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Fire head to Seattle; Jones pursuit could end soon
Even with their tenuous league position and difficult travel schedule, the Fire are still all in for tonight’s U.S. Open Cup semifinal against the Seattle Sounders.
The same might not be true much longer in regards to their pursuit of Jermaine Jones.
Other than having to replace the suspended Mike Magee, coach Frank Yallop said the Fire won’t be using a weakened side against Seattle (13-6-2). That’s despite the fact the Fire are eighth in the Eastern Conference and in the middle of a three-game week that sees them travel from Chicago to Seattle and then to Montreal for Saturday’s game against former coach Frank Klopas and the Impact.
“It’s a tough one because it’s the semifinal of a cup and we have a massive game on the weekend,” Yallop said. “Not to use the old cliché but we have to take each game as it comes along. I’m putting out a team to win a game (Wednesday night). It won’t be weakened for sure.”
That said, it’s starting to feel like the Fire’s pursuit of Jones is wavering.
After Sunday’s 1-0 win over the New York Red Bulls, Yallop said he was hoping to hear more soon about Jones. On Tuesday, Yallop said he was still waiting on any answers and said the situation is in a “stalemate” right now as Jones and his agent negotiate with Major League Soccer.
Soon, the Fire (4-5-13) might have to move on and turn their attention to other players.
“We’re kind of getting to that point,” Yallop said.
The Fire first acknowledged their interest in Jones after their July 30 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps and were just waiting on an answer from the German-American midfielder, whom they were confident they’d add.
Now in mid-August, the Fire are still waiting on some kind of resolution. And since late July when this went public, they’ve seen the transfer window close without any more signings as part of them waited on Jones.
“At some point, this club and myself need to go ‘OK, we’re going to move forward and get somebody in to help us at this point,’” Yallop said.
But even if the Fire don’t add Jones there have been signs of improvement.
Sunday’s shutout was their second in three games and the spirit is high entering Wednesday’s game with Seattle, which has the best record in MLS.
“This is a good group of guys here. It’s not like when guys are not playing they are just walking around pouting,” defender Bakary Soumare said. “If you’re not playing, just work a little harder and you’ll get an opportunity to play, and that’s what everyone is doing. That’s the great thing about this team. Everyone is positive, everyone is fighting.”