Canaries hosting American visitors this week
CHICAGO Fire Head Coach Frank Yallop believes training at Norwich City is the perfect preparation for his side's upcoming Major League Soccer season.
The Fire began their journey to England on Sunday as they contended with the fifth-highest recorded snowfall in Chicago history, eventually arriving in Norfolk on Monday evening.
They enjoyed a first warm-up session at Colney yesterday afternoon, and Yallop told Norwich City TV: "It’s the start of our pre-season, so I wanted to bring the guys over to a football environment.
"Usually we go to warmer climates in the States, but a couple of years ago I went to Tottenham with San Jose [Earthquakes] and trained there. Our guys really enjoyed it, so I thought we’d do the same sort of thing this season with the Fire."
"Coming here has been great so far, having arrived a couple of days ago. We’ve had adverse weather, so it gets our guys ready for the season, which is coming up pretty quick.
A Norwich City XI will play Chicago Fire in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Colney Training Centre tomorrow.
The Fire finished 9th in the Eastern Conference of Major League Soccer last term, and recently completed the signing of Scotland international winger Shaun Maloney from Wigan Athletic as one of their Designated Players for the 2015 campaign.
"Players take time, but if we’re really firing a week out from that first game then it will be good."
"There's been a lot of turnover since last year, which we needed. This is the point to get to know each other, figure out how everybody plays and how the coach wants us to play.
"The fields are great and the facilities are perfect, so it's exciting. There are a lot of times in the MLS when you can be around American teams for the whole of pre-season, so for us to come here and get away is good.
The Illinois outfit will then return Stateside to conclude their preparations ahead of an opening day clash away to LA Galaxy in March, and captain Jeff Larentowicz said: "The English teams are who we watch on television at home, and it's incredibly professional.
Chicago will spend a total of eight days in Norfolk, before travelling to the capital for a three-day stint training at Queen's Park Rangers.
"I feel good about it; we've got some good weapons going forward but time will tell. It's our new season, and a challenge we're looking forward to."
"Last year was tough for us, and we've got a lot of new players so one of the reasons I wanted to come away was to get them to bond. When you come to places like this you’re away from it, and rely on each other because there’s no relatives or places that are familiar.
"I came over in November to look at it as I wasn't sure - being an Ipswich person - but thought it would be great and the Club has been fantastic to help out. It’s a great set-up, and everyone from the manager downwards has been great in making us feel welcome.
A former Ipswich Town player taking his side to Norwich may seem an unexpected move on the surface, but the ex-defender explained: "Trevor James, my Chief Scout, is from Norwich and he spoke to the Club and Dunston Hall to figure it all out.
GET YOUR TICKETS
Wolverhampton Wanderers, Saturday February 14, 3pm
NEXT AT CARROW ROAD