Chicago Fire’s faults rest on the shoulders of Frank Yallop

Close your eyes. Now imagine a beautiful field. Grass lightly blowing against a light, warm, and damp wind as you feel spring evolving in front of your eyes. You look out and see a majestic deer running across a field into a forest. It looks like a baby. Just as you get a good look, the deer picks up speed. Just as it reaches its max speed it falls face first and crashes into the earth.

If you have no trouble seeing this then you understand what happened Sunday night as Chicago Fire took on San Jose Earthquakes. The final score was 2 – 1, with Chicago escaping California with the first goal of the season on the back of Harry Shipp, but in reality the game could have ended much worse.

Chicago shelled out quite a bit of cash this offseason, but one thing that seems to be clear is the lack of team cohesion among the three new DPs and the other players. All three DPs (David Accam, Kennedy Igboananike, and Shaun Maloney) are involved in the front part of the Fire’s attack. Each of them were signed with a specific role in mind, Maloney most specifically being the person responsible for feeding the ball in, but all three have thus been a disappointment with the activity on the field.

Chicago started with something of a clean slate, and really gave Yallop the keys to bring in guys he felt fit the style Chicago should be playing. While all the pieces together would easily be the picture perfect puzzle, it seems like none of the pieces really fit with one another.

The offseason with the circumstances that Yallop had going into the season should have been spent with the mindset of blending the team together. What we saw from the first game against LA up until San Jose is a team that looks about as uncomfortable with being on the field together as anyone else could.

Here are the things that need to be addressed as soon as possible:

Protecting the backline:

The backline is getting up to that point where it is comfortable. Gehrig and the gang showed in San Jose that they have the ability to defend when the ball gets past the midfield. They know how to defend, but the issue lies with how many times during the game they have to do it. Having a solid backline is good, but only when they can perform when called upon. The idea of using a defensive midfielder if the team has that ability might help coordinate the movement from the back forward and give an extra person that can easily help defend.

Flowing from midfield to the front:

The ability to attack is incredibly important. Chicago has lacked a real playmaking buildup that Maloney was supposed to bring when he signed. Three games in and it should be little tweaks here and there. At times it seems Chicago lacks any playmakers. Alexi Lalas mentioned during the national telecast that it is not easily apparent who the DP’s even are on this team. When they crossed the midfield area against San Jose it felt like I was watching a new born puppy learning to walk. Without the skill of Harry Shipp, Chicago would still be without a goal going into game number four of the season.

The time is coming when all these questions are going to sit squarely on the shoulders of Frank Yallop. In any sport, often the burden of failure sits on the shoulders of the head coach no matter the circumstances. Sometimes it’s the quality of the players, but it’s becoming more evident that the issues lie with the tactics and training.

Ultimately, the need for all this comes down to one aspect that needs to be addressed. The team shows promise on both sides of the ball. With the goal, Harry Shipp shows that the Fire can still score when they try. On the backline, even giving up four goals in the first three games, Chicago showed strength with the constant attack from San Jose. The need now is for the team to play like a team.

Creating a flow when the backline gets the ball to the front, Maloney snapping on his commander hat and being able to dictate and cross the ball in, all of these things that come with the expectations that the team had during the preseason lie with Yallop and his staff buckling down and creating a plan to actively lead the team in actually becoming a team. You can spend millions and have the best players in the world, but if they all play individually and don’t work together, you have nothing.

The cohesion and teamwork will come with time, but after a rough season in 2014, supporters are already lighting the torches. Yallop needs to really work on getting the roles set for the team in order to prevent the Fire from falling further behind.

With only three games, and a promising second half Chicago showed in San Jose there is still time on the clock for Chicago to leave a mark in the Eastern Conference this season, but one has to wonder what Frank Yallop can do to change the product on the field and change it fast.

Main Photo: SAN JOSE, CA – MARCH 22: P. Garcia #10 of the San Jose Earthquakes moves the ball against Eric Gehrig #6 of the Chicago Fire in the first half at Avaya Stadium on March 22, 2015 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)