Blog

jeff crandall

02 June 9:55 am

When Quincy Amarikwa earned a 67th minute penalty kick in Sunday’s 1-1 draw vs. LA Galaxy, it occurred to me that the Fire had received a lot more spot kicks in 2014 than they have in recent seasons.

Upon further review, the Fire have received six penalty kicks in 12 matches this season, averaging one every two games. It’s safe to say the Fire wouldn’t have earned as many opportunities without the ability of Amarikwa to draw so many penalties…

Have a look...

Date/Result Penalty Earned Penalty Taken Converted Miss/Save
3/16/14 - 1-1 at POR Quincy Amarikwa Jeff Larentowicz X  
4/5/14 - 2-2 vs. PHI Juan Luis Anangono Mike Magee   X
4/19/14 - 1-1 vs. NE Victor Pineda Juan Luis Anangono   X
5/18/14 - 2-1 vs. SKC Quincy Amarikwa Mike Magee X  
5/18/14 - 2-1 vs. SKC Benji Joya Mike Magee X  
6/1/14 - 1-1 vs. LA  Quincy Amarikwa Jeff Larentowicz X  

While the table serves as a reminder that the Fire probably would be further up the table if not for a few penalty saves in April, let me also point out that the rate of penalties so far this year is a club record to this point in any of the team’s 17 seasons of existence. In fact, there are only five other seasons in which the club has earned six or more spot kicks the entire year.

See below:

Season Overall Conversion Rate Conversion Through 12 Games
2000 5/10 0/3
2003 7/9 3/4
2005 4/7 1/1
2001 4/6 2/3
2006 3/6 1/2
2014 4/6 4/6

The penalty earned by Amarikwa Sunday was his fourth since joining the Fire last season.  It's a relatively small sample size, but the team has never missed a penalty that #QuincyTime has earned as Mike Magee also scored on the penalty he won last July in a 4-1 romp of D.C. United. 

Amarikwa seems perfectly built to be a player that can draw dangerous opportunities for his team. Strength on and of the ball along with lightning quickness that turn what look like "meh" opportunities into beautiful chances mean defenders have their hands full whenever he's on the field. 

There have been a few times where he's fallen gracefully (and been punished for it) and Sunday's penalty call *may* have occurred just outside the area but there's little doubt that something will probably happen in or around the box whenever Amarikwa is on the field. 

Like in the MLS Fantasy Challenge, perhaps "Penalties Earned" should become an official statistic in Major League Soccer. Until that happens, perhaps you should take in the latest episode of #QuincyTime

28 May 4:30 pm

Coming soon to Chicago-Fire.com, the #cf97 TrueCar Grand Prix! Select players along with Head Coach Frank Yallop, Technical Director Brian Bliss and Fire broadcasters Dan Kelly and Kevin Egan took to K1 Speed in Addison this afternoon to film a two-part video series for Chicago-Fire.com

If the tweets mean anything, clearly an exciting day of racing has been had... 

 

Stay tuned to Chicago-Fire.com to see how everyone did!

27 May 8:41 am

Chicago Fire goalkeepers Sean Johnson, Kyle Reynish, Alec Kann and coach Aron Hyde will jump behind the bar at AJ Hudsons (3801 N. Ashland) to raise money for the Chicago Fire Foundation Tuesday from 6:30-8:30pm! A $20 wristband gets you select drafts, mixed drinks, wine and soda for two hours leading up to the U.S. Men's National Team's World Cup warmup friendly vs. Azerbaijan beginning at 9pm CT. 

Find more information on Tuesday night's event here

20 May 10:09 am

Coming off Harry Shipp's stunning hat trick display at New York, the halftime broadcast of Sunday's game vs. Sporting KC featured the seven hat tricks that have been recorded by Chicago Fire players in MLS Regular Season play.

Just in case you didn't set your DVR, check out all 21 of the historic goals below:

Who do you think will be the next Fire player to bag a hat trick? 

16 May 2:04 pm

The Fourth Round draw for the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup occurred Friday morning at Soccer House in downtown Chicago and with MLS teams entering at this stage, the process was much more elaborate than the straight forward flips from last week’s Third Round draw.

Before I lay out how it unfolded, a few bullets to keep in mind…

  • I was incorrect in my earlier tweets and statements that a USL PRO affiliate could not be matched with its partner MLS club. I’m a busy guy and sometimes you just have to admit you’re not perfect, sorry!
  • The only affiliate relationship that needed to be separated for this draw was that of the LA Galaxy and LA Galaxy II who are both owned by the same party.
  • USL PRO side Orlando City and their PDL side Orlando City U-23s, are both in the tournament but could not be matched up at this stage as MLS teams must be matched with a lower league pairing.
  • Chivas USA was the only MLS club to not apply to host a Fourth Round Open Cup match.

With those done, I will underscore that the most important principle to keep in mind for how pairings are determined comes from Page 7 of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup Handbook. It states:

“After each Third Round pairing has been determined, each Division I (MLS) team entering in the Fourth Round will be matched geographically to play the winner of a specific Third Round pairing. Instances where a logical geographic fit doesn’t exist will be resolved by random selection."

Jeff Crandall attends the fourth round draw for the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Soccer House on May 16, 2014
As all business as a selfie can be prior to walking into Soccer House...

Upon arrival to Soccer House, Competition Secretary Paul Marstaller handed me a sheet of paper with four geographic groupings, plus a wild card pool. The most straightforward grouping was the top table which featured eight Third Round matchups across from eight MLS teams that made “a logical geographic fit” with those lower league pairings.

The pairings with the result of the coin flip are below. Teams that are not bolded either did not have a suitable home venue or didn’t apply to host (U.S. Soccer did not distinguish the reason on this sheet).

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
X Brooklyn Italians SC (NPSL)/New York Cosmos (NASL)   New York Red Bulls (MLS)
  Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)/Indy Eleven (NASL) X Columbus Crew (MLS)
  RWB Adria (USASA)/Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USLP) X Chicago Fire (MLS)
  Minnesota United FC (NASL)/Des Moines Menace (USASA X Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
  Laredo Heat (PDL)/Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) X Houston Dynamo (MLS)
  NTX Rayados (USASA)/San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) X FC Dallas (MLS)
X Arizona United SC (USLP)/Oklahoma City Energy FC (USLP)   LA Galaxy (MLS)
  Fresno Fuego (PDL)/Sacramento Republic (USLP) X San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

For the local Fire fans, I was able to take OFFICIAL VIDEO documenting the Fire's winning coin flip:

The second grouping of matchups pooled three Northeast MLS sides with three lower league pairings. Of note here, Marstaller said that because the Harrisburg City Islanders and Baltimore Bohemians are about equidistant to D.C. United and Philadelphia Union, a flip off between the two sides would be done to determine which club would host the winner of that Third Round Matchup.

Based on alphabet, D.C. United was assigned heads and Philadelphia tails, with the Union winning. Because neither Harrisburg or Baltimore applied to host, no flip was necessary as hosting rights defaulted to the Union. 

LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAMS FLIP ASSIGNMENT
Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL) D.C. United
Philadelphia Union
Heads
Tails

United's loss on their first flip resulted in them moving down to the next pairing of two lower league matchups where a similar flip had to occur between New York Greek American Atlas/Richmond Kickers and Reading United AC/Rochester Rhinos to determind who would be D.C.'s opponent.

FLIP ASSIGNMENT LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAM
Heads New York Greek American Atlas (USASA)/Richmond Kickers (USLP)
Reading United AC (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)
D.C. United
Tails

Again, determined by alphabet, the New York/Richmond matchup was assigned heads while the other was assigned tails and the coin again flipped to tails matching D.C. United with Reading/Rochester.

This moved New York/Richmond down to a matchup with the New England Revolution and then flips were done to determine the hosting rights for those two matchups with both lower league matchups winning with heads. For the purpose of clarity, here is how that final grouping looked:

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
  Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL) N/A Philadelphia Union
X Reading United AC (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)   D.C. United
X New York Greek American Atlas (USASA)/Richmond Kickers (USLP)   New England Revolution

The third grouping was a product of Chivas USA being the only MLS club not to apply for hosting rights. Because of this, Marstaller needed to pair them with lower league matchups in which both clubs applied to host, of which there were two: Atlanta Silverbacks/Chattanooga FC (heads) and Charlotte Eagles/Carolina Railhawks (tails).

A coin flip was done to see who would host Chivas and landed tails giving Charlotte/Carolina the hosting rights. This pushed Atlanta/Chattanooga down to the very ending “Wild Card Pool”.

FLIP ASSIGNMENT LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAM
Heads Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)
Charlotte Eagles (USLP)/Carolina RailHawks (NASL)
Chivas USA
Tails

The fourth pool featured the PSA Elite/LA Galaxy II matchup paired against four MLS teams that were within geographical proximity. While both lower-league teams are based in Southern California, because PSA Elite also did not apply to host, Chivas USA could not be thrown into this group.

The most interesting part of the process Friday was the flip-off between four MLS clubs to determine who would play Galaxy II/PSA Elite.

Again determined by alphabet, Colorado/Portland and Real Salt Lake/Seattle Sounders did a preliminary flip. Both losers in that round (Portland & Real Salt Lake) were moved into the final Wild Card pairing, then Colorado and Seattle did a final flip, with Seattle winning again (which should keep Sigi Schmid somewhat happy) and Colorado also falling to the Wild Card group.

LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAMS
PSA Elite (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USLP) Colorado Rapids
Portland Timbers
Heads
Tails
Heads
Real Salt Lake
Seattle Sounders
Heads
Tails
Tails

One final flip was done to determine the hosting rights for that match with Galaxy II/PSA Elite winning and presumably, since PSA Elite did not apply to host, Sigi will be their biggest fan.

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
X PSA Elite (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USLP)   Seattle Sounders

After all the flips above were done, the Wild Card pool looked like the below table, with MLS clubs placed on the right according to alphabetical order. Because of the odd number of matchups, coin flips could not be used to determine who would play each other so Marstaller placed three slips of paper marked “A”, “B” and “C” into plain envelopes. As the matchup moved down from the initial Chivas USA grouping, Atlanta/Chattanooga was assigned “C” while the other two lower-league pairings were assigned “A” and “B” based on alphabetic order.

WILD CARD POOL
Letter LOWER-LEAGUE MATCHUP MLS TEAMS
A
B
C
Orlando City U23s (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)
Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)/Orlando City (USLP)
Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)
Colorado Rapids
Portland Timbers
Real Salt Lake

Marstaller then went down the alphabetic list of MLS sides and drew the slips of paper from the envelopes. When all three matchups had been finalized, final flips for hosting rights occurred, concluding the fourth round Open Cup draw. You can see how the envelopes were drawn and the winner of the flips below:

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
  Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)/Orlando City (USLP) X Colorado Rapids
X Orlando City U23s (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)   Portland Timbers
X Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)   Real Salt Lake

Following the draw, Marstaller said the published fourth round scenarios would not be accompanied Friday by match dates yet. This is because the Fourth Round has three possible match dates over an eight-day span. With USL PRO and the PDL, along with amateur sides having league games between the June 10-18 Fourth Round window, all clubs that have the potential to host a Fourth Round match will have the weekend to give their preferred hosting date before U.S. Soccer balances the already scheduled league games. Because of the logistical process, hosting dates are expected to be announced sometime next week. 

A comprehensive list of who won hosting coin flips can be found below.

FLIP HEADS FLIP TAILS
X Brooklyn Italians SC (NPSL)/New York Cosmos (NASL)   New York Red Bulls (MLS)
  Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)/Indy Eleven (NASL) X Columbus Crew (MLS)
  RWB Adria (USASA)/Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USLP) X Chicago Fire (MLS)
  Minnesota United FC (NASL)/Des Moines Menace (USASA X Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
  Laredo Heat (PDL)/Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) X Houston Dynamo (MLS)
  NTX Rayados (USASA)/San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) X FC Dallas (MLS)
X Arizona United SC (USLP)/Oklahoma City Energy FC (USLP)   LA Galaxy (MLS)
  Fresno Fuego (PDL)/Sacramento Republic (USLP) X San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)
  Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL) N/A Philadelphia Union
X Reading United AC (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP)   D.C. United
X New York Greek American Atlas (USASA)/Richmond Kickers (USLP)   New England Revolution
N/A Charlotte Eagles (USLP)/Carolina RailHawks (NASL)   Chivas USA
X PSA Elite (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USLP)   Seattle Sounders
  Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)/Orlando City (USLP) X Colorado Rapids
X Orlando City U23s (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP)   Portland Timbers
X Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL)   Real Salt Lake

Thanks again to the U.S. Soccer staff for being great hosts once again!

13 May 8:56 am

Simon Borg's Instant Replay video series on MLSsoccer.com continues to be destination viewing. In this week's episode, Simon cites the updated FIFA Laws of the Game to explain why Harry Shipp's first goal on Saturday vs. New York stood despite offside shouts from just about everyone in Red Bull Arena.

He also looks at another play the Fire may have gained an advantage on...

 

13 May 7:53 am

As we've all learned, GoPro cameras make everything look so much cooler. The guys over at Chicago Fire Rec Soccer have taken that to heart by putting together some of the best highlights from their leagues each and every week. 

Check out the video below and get more info on CFRS leagues, as well as registration by clicking here.

 

11 May 6:49 am

Sometimes in the stat world you need an assist. Sometimes in the MLS stat world, you quite appropriately may need a second assist.

This came for me Saturday night when Fire Analyst Kevin Egan tweeted to ask this question following a wild 5-4 win in New York:

Perhaps knowing I was too busy bowing at the altar of a boy wunderkid, Hot Time in Old Town founder Tweed Thornton did the quick research: 

Having finished the lamb sacrifice (kidding!), I woke up this morning to do some more research of my own. Kevin and Tweed were correct, not only did we see the first-ever Fire rookie/Homegrown score a hat trick Saturday night, we also saw the quickest four-goal barrage in the club's 17 season. Wow!

Here's a list of the ones that came (sort of) close:

Date Opponent/Score Minute Span Total Minutes Goal Scorers
5/10/2014 5-4 W at RBNY 49-64 15 Amarikwa 49, Shipp 53', 58', Nyarko 64'
7/4/2001 7-0 W at KC 72-88 16 Nowak 72', 81', Stoitchkov 83', 88'
7/1/1998 4-1 W at DAL 7-36 29 Kubik 7', Razov 16', Kosecki 20', Podbrozny 36'
5/13/2000 4-1 W vs. SJ 5-40 35 Kovalenko 5', Kubik 12', og 13', Razov 40'
4/3/2008 4-0 W vs. NE 4-39 35 Barrett 4', Frankowski 22', 39', Blanco 37'
5/23/1998 5-0 W vs. COL 21-57 36 Brown 21', Razov 51', Podbrozny 55', Kosecki 57'

 

08 May 5:35 pm

As I did much of last year, I was excited to be invited back to Soccer House, headquarters of the U.S. Soccer Federation, for Thursday’s third round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup draw.

I was joined on Prairie Street by Indy Eleven President Peter Wilt, who was there to witness his club’s first Open Cup coin flip.

If you read some of my Open Cup draw articles last year, you might have seen a very complicated process which involved bigger groupings of geographical possibilities, numbering pieces of paper and drawing from envelopes before any coins were flipped.

None of that was the case on Thursday as Competition Secretary Paul Marstaller was able to fit all potential third round matchups in to "logical geographic pairings" so only coin flips needed to take place.

For the Open Cup nerds out there, this may disappoint you and if you'd rather go no further, I suggest you just read U.S. Soccer's official release on the potential third round pairings. If you would still like to know some of the interesting intricacies of the day's happenings, keep reading: 

  • Five lower-league professional sides did not apply to host third round matches: USL PRO's Harrisburg City Islanders, Orange County Blues, Arizona United SC, Oklahoma City Energy FC and NASL's Atlanta Silverbacks.
  • As they did last year, USL PRO's Dayton Dutch Lions did apply to host but their field does not meet U.S. Soccer's competition requirements (a common theme here). Their second round opponent, North Chicago side Schwaben AC also applied to host but their venue does not meet requirements as well. 
  • Why would both clubs apply to host if they didn't meet requirements? While it's unlikely it would happen, supposing the opponent that pair was matched up with also didn't meet field or venue requirements or didn't apply to host, U.S. Soccer could then award hosting rights to either club. In the case of Dayton/Schwaben, because Indy Eleven applied to host and their home venue meets requirements, a coin flip did not occur for this matchup. 
  • Another interesting example of this was on the last flip of the round in the matchup of Cal FC / LA Galaxy II and PSA Elite / San Diego Flash. Of the four teams, only LA Galaxy II's venue met requirements, while both PSA Elite and San Diego Flash applied to host although neither team's field met requirements. So in the case that Cal FC won, the winner of the PSA Elite / San Diego Flash match would host a third round match up by default.
  • With USL PRO's Charleston Battery having the only suitable host venue in their potential match up (they play the PDL's Panama City Pirates in Round 2), they automatically were rewarded hosting rights should they advance to a third round matchup against the winner of Jacksonville United FC / Orlando City U23s. Jacksonville United did apply to host but their home venue was deemed not to fit stadium requirements. However, should Charleston lose and Jacksonville win, the NPSL side would host Panama City in the third round. Should both Panama City and Orlando City win, because neither applied for hosting rights, U.S. Soccer would quickly quoroum with both clubs to figured out a host for a third round match. 
     
  • USL PRO's Wilmington Hammerheads applied to host but their field was also deemed unsuitable. Paired with NPSL's Chattanooga FC in the second round, should Wilmington win, they would host by default as Atlanta Silverbacks did not apply to do so. 
  • Because of some of these differing scenarios, coin flips did not occur as matchups defaulted to a suitable host team. 

Complete Third Round U.S. Open Cup Grid (as I saw it today).

BOLD: Applied to host; Venue meets requirements
ITALICS: Applied to host, Field width doesn't meet requirements
BOLD ITALICS: Applied to host; Venue doesn't meet requirements
N/A - Matchups where coin flips did not occur because of hosting defaults

HEADS FLIP TAILS FLIP
Greater Binghamton Thunder (NPSL)/Reading United (PDL)   W. Mass. Pioneers (PDL)/Rochester Rhinos (USLP) X
Brooklyn Italians (NPSL)/Jersey Express (PDL)   New York Cosmos (NASL) X
NY Greek Americans (USASA)/Ocean City Nor'easters (PDL) X Richmond Kickers (USLP)/RVA FC (NPSL)  
Harrisburg City Islanders (USLP)/Lehigh Valley Utd. (NPSL) X Icon FC (USASA)/Baltimore Bohemians (PDL)  
NY Red Bulls U-23 (NPSL)/Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USLP) X RWB Adria (USASA)/Michigan Bucks (PDL)  
Carolina Dynamo (PDL)/Charlotte Eagles (USLP)   Carolina Railhawks (NASL) X
Wilmington Hammerheads (USLP)/Chattanooga FC (NPSL) N/A Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL)  
Jacksonville United (NPSL)/Orlando City U23s (PDL)   Panama City Pirates (PDL)/Charleston Battery (USLP) N/A
Ocala Stampede (PDL)/Orlando City (USLP) x Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL)  
Red Force (USASA)/Laredo Heat (PDL)   Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) X
Dayton Dutch Lions (USLP)/Schwaben AC (USASA)   Indy Eleven (NASL) N/A
NTX Rayados (USASA)/Austin Aztex (PDL)   San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) N/A
Real Colorado Foxes (PDL)/Des Moines Menace (USASA) X Minnesota United SC (NASL)  
Oklahoma City Energy (USLP)/Tulsa Athletics (NPSL)   Arizona United SC (USLP)/Portland Timbers U23 (PDL) X
Orange County Blues (USLP)/Fresno Fuego (PDL)   Sacramento Republic (USLP)/Ventura County Fusion (PDL) X
Cal FC (USASA)/LA Galaxy II (USL Pro) N/A PSA Elite (USASA)/San Diego Flash (NPSL)  

Thank you again to U.S. Soccer for allowing me to play witness to the draw once again. Chicago-Fire.com plans to bring coverage of the fourth round draw procedure when it occurs next week. 

08 May 8:33 am

The first round of the 2014 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup kicked off across the country with seven matches (and a forfeit) Wednesday night.

Of note, three games went to extra time with two of those going to penalty kicks. One of the matches decided in a shootout was that of local side RWB Adria downing NPSL darlings Detroit City FC 3-1 on penalties after playing to a dramatic 2-2 draw.

Hot Time in Old Town's Sean Spence live tweeted the match from Livonia Stevenson High School in suburban Detroit where Adria took an early lead through Vlad Baciu in the 20th minute. Fueled by the always raucous DCFC partisans, the home side took a 2-1 lead with second half goals from Tyler Arnone and former Colorado Rapids defender Kevin Taylor in the 71st and 77th minutes respectively.

Baciu bagged a dramatic brace in the dying moments of regulation to send the match to extra time where both teams saw two players sent off and neither could find a goal in the 30 extra minutes. Adria played the spoiler connecting with three of their penalties to see out Detroit City FC and set up a return date to Detroit next week where they'll face perennial U.S. Open Cup spoilers Michigan Bucks next Wednesday, May 14.

Adria will be joined in the second round by another local Chicago side, Schwaben AC, who host USL PRO's Dayton Dutch Lions in Arlington Heights next Wednesday at 4pm CT. 

These games should be of interest for Fire fans as the regional groupings make sense for a potential fourth round match up (where MLS teams enter the tournament).

Other Notes:

  • The tournament saw it's first forfeit in a decade as USASA side Corinthians were forced to withdraw from their match against the San Diego Flash due to not being able to obtain international clearance for their players in time to play the match. TheCup.US has more information on this intriguing story
  • Kudos to U.S. Soccer for upping their coverage of the tournament this year by introducing a "Game of the Round" which streamed on the Federation's official site Wednesday night. The chosen match saw the USL Premier Development League's Western Mass Pioneers down USASA side GPS Massachusetts 4-1 to advance to the second round. Catch the archive of the match here.
  • With the first round done and second round matches set, U.S. Soccer will conduct the tournament's third round draw at Soccer House in Chicago this afternoon. Chicago-Fire.com will once again be a witness at the festivities and have a full account of how the matchups happened later Thusday. 

For more information on the 2014 U.S. Open Cup, please visit USsoccer.com and the tournament's unofficial site TheCup.us.