Frank Yallop

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Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

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On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.

Chicago Fire sack head coach Frank Yallop

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Frank Yallop is out in Chicago.

The club announced that Yallop’s tenure as coach of the Fire has come to an end, as the club currently sits in last place in the Eastern Conference with the fewest points in the league.

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Yallop becomes the second MLS coach to be fired this season, as Montreal sacked Frank Klopas in August. Chicago’s Technical Director Brian Bliss will take over as interim coach.

Not only is Yallop out, but so is most of his staff, as the Fire have decided to make big changes behind the bench.

Below is part of a statement released by the club earlier today:

Chicago Fire Soccer Club today announced the appointment of former MLS veteran Nelson Rodríguez as General Manager. In addition, the Club has parted ways with Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop, as well as assistant coaches Marc Bircham and Clint Mathis, naming Technical Director Brian Bliss as the Interim Head Coach and former Fire Captain Logan Pause as Interim Assistant Coach. Rodríguez will join the Fire on October 19, all other changes are effective immediately.

Last season was Yallop’s first year in charge at the club, as Chicago missed the playoffs and finished in ninth place in the East. Things have gotten worse this year, as the Fire currently have the worst record in all of Major League Soccer.

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Many thought things would turn around for Chicago when Scottish international Shaun Maloney joined as a Designated Player in the offseason, bringing a wealth of top-level experience. However, Maloney’s tenure did not go as planned, as he left the club after just eight months to join Hull City in August.

After going to three straight Eastern Conference Finals from 2007-09, the Fire failed to reach the playoffs in four of the next five seasons.

Chicago adds Designated Player striker from Swedish powers AIK

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Chicago missed out on Jermaine Jones in the summer and vowed to bring in some firepower this offseason.

And now they have their first Designated Player slot filled with a man who can add goals to the Fire’s repertoire.

Kennedy Igboananike, 25, is coming to Major League Soccer from Allsvenskan powers AIK. The Nigerian-born Swedish player had an offseason last year, scoring just 6 goals in 31 appearances, but has numbers on his resume. He scored a goal every other game the previous year.

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The question is whether the style of play will translate to MLS. After all, Allsvenskan is arguably a lesser league.

Nonetheless, from MLSSoccer.com:

“Kennedy is a dynamic goal scorer with a track record of producing,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop said in a club statement. “He’s young and exciting, a player with incredible pace, and we look forward to adding him to our roster to bolster our attack.”

A product of Dynamos Football Academy in Nigeria, Igboananike made his professional debut with Djurgårdens of the Swedish Allsvenskan on June 19, 2007. The next year proved to be Igboananike’s breakout season, when he transferred to lower-division club Vasalunds and scored a league-high 18 goals, garnering the Division 1 golden boot in 2008.

It’s a risk, to be sure. Put plainly: AIK teammate Celso Borges of the Costa Rican national team scored four times in 18 games last season. How big of a signing would he be considered if he came to MLS?

Only four teams scored fewer goals than the Fire last season, and they certainly need an injection in offense. But will Igboananike be an answer, or even part of the answer?

Chicago Fire pleased with former Tottenham Hotspur Jaime O’Hara on trial

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Ending their 2015 season with a win over the Houston Dynamo, the Chicago Fire’s ninth-place finish in the Eastern Conference wasn’t exactly where they hoped to conclude the year.

However, it’s clear, after Frank Yallop’s team missed out on World Cup standout Jermaine Jones in a blind draw, that the Fire are looking to better their roster with talent overseas, as Chicago has brought ex-Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Jaime O’Hara on trial for the past couple of weeks.

Impressed with the technical abilities of the midfielder, Yallop and the Fire would be glad to have the footballer on their side.

“Jamie’s done well,” Yallop said to MLSsoccer.com. “We brought him in to see what he’s all about, and heard good things about his football. I know him from his Tottenham days, and Wolves and all the teams he’s played for.

“I think he’d be the first to admit that he’s kind of lost his way his way a little bit in England. He’s a Premiership-type player that has qualities that would add to our team. Again, it’s a jigsaw puzzle.”

The Fire’s manager wouldn’t reveal how close they are to the acquiring him, though.

“I’d love to say that, yeah, we got him and we’re going to sign him,” Yallop said. “But at this point we will sit down with Jamie and his agent and see where it takes us. I think he’s done well enough to be on our team, for sure.”

O’Hara, 28, spent five years at Arsenal’s academy before moving to Tottenham’s youth program in 2003. As a Spur, the Englishman was sent out on a series of loans, performing for Chesterfield, Millwall, Portsmouth, and then he finally settled down with Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2011. He made 41 appearances and scored two goals for Wolves preceding the expiration of his contract this summer.

Nearing season’s end, playoff-less Chicago Fire remain upbeat

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About to miss the MLS playoffs for a second-straight year, the Chicago Fire want to wind down 2014 on the most hopeful note possible.

After a 2-1 defeat to the top-seeded D.C. United earlier today, Chicago saw their winless streak increased to eight games, a harsh reminder that their form hasn’t aided their postseason intentions.

Nonetheless, the Fire, who sit at ninth place in the Eastern Conference, are staying calm and reflecting on their season in a positive manner.

Young midfielder Harry Shipp has relished a career-best year, and he was able to echo the thoughts of most Fire players following their second-to-last regular season contest.

“It’s the good thing about this group, individually each game or collectively over the season we haven’t given up despite being out of the playoffs,” Shipp said, per MLSsoccer.com. “Everyone gave 110 percent tonight, even the guys that subbed in, Pat Nyarko on the goal played a great ball, so I think it was a good collective effort and you can’t fault anyone for giving up or not trying.”

MLS veteran manager Frank Yallop, whose job in Bridgeview is certainly on the hot seat, spoke along the same lines.

“To be honest, it’s been good working with this group,” Yallop said.

“We’ve struggled to win games, but we’ve not lost many. That was our 10th loss of the season, it’s not great, but it’s not terrible. The group itself has not given up, each player individually and collectively have been in every game. We’ve competed; the coaching staff have set them up to do their thing and they’ve executed, other than giving goals up at the wrong times, giving goals to the opposition and not finishing our chances. But that’s football.”