Chicago is on Fire, Accam puts MLS on warning

By Paul Kennedy

The hottest team in MLS is the Chicago Fire. It took a gap of almost three weeks, but the Fire won its third game in a row with a 1-0 victory over New York City FC.

MLS: Week 8 Results & Standings, Week 9 Schedule

The Fire already had a bye in Week 6 and it agreed to reschedule its match with Montreal so the Impact -- coached by former Fire coach Frank Klopas -- could prepare for the Concacaf Champions League final. The break did nothing to stop the Fire's momentum.

Frankly, it should have been a lot worse. NYCFC keeper Ryan Meara, filling in for suspended Josh Saunders, gifted David Accam a goal in the 20th minute and after Andrew Jacobson's red card three minutes later, the game was effectively over. Only six saves from an otherwise excellent Meara kept NYCFC in the game.

NYCFC could not handle Accam, the Ghana international who was acquired from Swedish club Helsingborg but was injured in his first preseason game with the Fire and missed the start of the season. Yallop put MLS opponents on warning that there's more to come from Accam.

"David is an exciting player," the Fire coach said, "and when we saw him it was like, 'Wow, he could be available and let's go after him.' And we did get him, he's excited to be here and I thought he played fantastic tonight and I still think there is more in him. I think he can be a little more attack-minded."

Accam had an extra incentive in Friday night's game as Ghanaian national team head coach Avram Grant was on hand to watch him.

"For me," Accam said, "I just want to play well every game, no matter who is there, and that is what I did."

The Fire, which has not had a good record with Designated Players in recent years, rolled the dice this season. It's the only returning club that brought in three new DPs -- and paid transfer fees for all of them. Scottish international Shaun Maloney has improved each week and settled into the second forward slot, while Nigerian Kennedy Igboananike has struggled to get consistent playing time so far.

"He's fine," insisted Yallop, "just think that Shaun has done a good job as that second forward and we just need a bit of a presence of a bigger man with hold-up play with Guly. He'll get his chances to play, he's played a little bit this year, it just takes time to settle in sometimes."

That hasn't been an issue for other players the Fire acquired.

"Adailton has been absolutely solid and strong, smart," Yallop said. "Joevin Jones has been excellent, Matt Polster has been great, Eric Gehrig as well, I can go on and on about the guys we brought in."

MLS Scoring:
Week 1: 1.60
Week 2: 3.13
Week 3: 1.25
Week 4: 1.90
Week 5: 2.63
Week 6: 2.20
Week 7: 2.60
Week 8: 3.11
Season: 2.29

Week 8: Three goals you must watch

Jozy Altidore scored two great individual goals for Toronto FC as it broke its four-game losing streak with a 2-0 win at Orlando City, but on a week that produced season-high 28 goals, he couldn't beat out these three gems.

1. MAURO DIAZ vs. Colorado. Diaz's goal was all Fabian Castillo as the Colombian twisted in and out of the Rapids' defense before finding the Argentine on the far side.

2. BRADFORD JAMIESON IV vs. NY Red Bulls. Jamieson will remember his first MLS goal for a long, long time, side-stepping nicely Chris Duvall and Dax McCarty and finishing with a well-taken shot with his left foot to give the LA Galaxy the lead at Red Bull Arena.

3. BENNY FEILHABER vs. Houston. Feilhaber capped an eight-goal thriller in Houston with the tying goal in stoppage time for Sporting KC in the 4-4 tie. One could ask where was the Dynamo defense on the play but Feilbaber's technique on his shot from distance was perfect.

What Worked in Week 8 ...

Philadelphia is a mess, but you have to like the way the Crew tore apart the Union defense in its 4-1 win on Saturday night. The big news: Ethan Finlay broke out of a season-long slump with two goals and an assist.

The Crew offers one of the most multi-varied attacks in MLS with Finlay and Justin Meram on the wings supported by Hernan Grana and Waylon Francis coming out of the back and Federico Higuain in the middle.

The key for Columbus, which has scored seven goals in its last two games, has been the arrival of center forward Kei Kamara whom the other Crew attackers can play off of. Kamara also scored against the Union, tying Vancouver Octavio Rivero for the league lead with five goals.

What Didn't Work in Week 8 ...

Vancouver could pin a lot of things on its 2-1 loss to D.C. United -- its third game it has lost or tied at B.C. Place to Eastern Conference teams -- but one constant this season has been disciplinary problems.

The Whitecaps lead MLS with 27 yellow cards, two of them picked up by Matias Laba, who was sent off for his second yellow card in the first half -- the second, 'Caps fans will be quick to point out, after Pa-Modou Kah gave the ball away.

On top of suspensions handed out by the MLS Disciplinary Committee to Diego Rodriguez and Kekuta Manneh earlier this season and the red card captain Pedro Morales received against San Jose, that's four players the 'Caps have lost to suspensions.

Vancouver will have to watch out as Sam Adekugbe and Kendall Waston both already have four yellow cards, one away from receiving one-game suspensions.

National Team Watch

Jamieson was one of four U.S. U-20 World Cup candidates who didn't go on the U-20s' trip to Salzburg but started in MLS over the weekend.

Only 18 and less than a year out of high school, Jamieson had a strong preseason with the Galaxy and competed for a starting job in retired Landon Donovan's place on the left wing that eventually went to Jose Villarreal. He's started the last two games for the Galaxy and looked very comfortable.

Jamieson will likely give way to Steven Gerrard when the Englishman arrives in July, but he will certainly help out if Gyasi Zardes is called up for the Gold Cup.

U.S. UNDER-23s. Starters: Gil, Polster, Shelton. Subs: Dia, *Dunn, Zimmerman. U.S. UNDER-20s. Starters: Acosta, Jamieson, Miazga, Turner.
*Made MLS debut.

1 comment about "Chicago is on Fire, Accam puts MLS on warning".
  1. Paul Lorinczi, April 27, 2015 at 2:53 p.m.

    Did you actually watch the game on Friday? There was nothing hot about the Fire's performance. They still look mediocre and their only goal was scored on a goal keeping error from a guy who hasn't started in a while. Then, they should have dominated playing against 10 men. They were terrible. The hot team is NE and Columbus did not look to shabby either. Chicago? Hell no.

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