Blog

jeff crandall

16 May 9:21 am

Those that paid attention to the Twitter-verse during Tuesday night’s U.S. Open Cup first round might have seen the name Duka being bandied about in Icon FC’s 4-1 defeat of Brooklyn Italians.

No, Fire midfielder Dilly Duka isn’t moonlighting out east.

The Duka in question was actually his older brother Argjent who tallied a hat trick in the New Jersey-based side’s first round Open Cup win. The 27-year-old Duka scored in the 12th, 51st and 76th minute to push Icon past the NPSL side and into a second round matchup with the Richmond Kickers next Tuesday.

READ: Icon FC vs. Brooklyn Italians Match Report

Back in Chicago, Dilly forewent Twitter updates and found his own way to see the match.

“I actually watched the game through Facetime on my iPhone,” he joked. “I had my sister post up in the stands and kind of record it while I watched. I didn’t get a TV view of everything but I saw most of the plays.”
The younger Duka isn’t surprised by his brother or Icon’s success either.

“He’s quick, he’s technical and he obviously knows how to finish. It’s a good team and it’s a lot of guys I play with in the offseason so their chemistry is obviously better than some of the PDL or NPSL sides now.

“I’m excited for them. I think they can make it a little further.”

Duka also reacted to the news of the Fire’s potential third round opponents: the Charlotte Eagles or Seattle Sounders U-23s.

“These teams are going to be excited to play against us. They’re definitely going to change their formation and go more defensive. We have to go in focused and take it seriously.

READ: Fire to Enter in Third Round of USOC

“I was in Columbus the past three years – the first year we took it seriously and did okay but the second and third year we lost in our first game. Whoever we play, it’ll be the biggest game of the year for them.”

While Duka is a former Crew player, he knows well his current team’s history in the U.S. Open Cup.

“You come here and you know the Open Cup is important. I’m aware of that and I’m sure we’re going to try and live up to our name and history in the competition.”
 

15 May 3:50 pm

In case you missed it, I had the opportunity to serve as a witness for today's Third Round U.S. Open Cup draw at Soccer House in Chicago.

I detailed the interesting tidbits of how the draw is done but in case you don't want to nerd out, just check out the potential third round matchups below...

HOME TEAMS LISTED FIRST

#1 Pittsburgh Riverhounds (USL-Pro) vs. Philadelphia Union -or- Philadelphia Union vs. Ocean City Nor'easters

#2 Richmond Kickers (USL-Pro) vs. D.C. United -or- D.C. United vs. Icon FC (USASA)

#3 Rochester Rhinos (USL-Pro) vs. New England Revolution -or- New England Revolution vs. GPS Portland Phoenix (USL PDL)

#4 Charlotte Eagles (USL-Pro) vs. Chicago Fire -or- Chicago Fire vs. Seattle Sounders U-23 (USL PDL)

#5 Orlando City Lions (USL-Pro) vs. Colorado Rapids -or- Colorado Rapids vs. Ocala Stampede (USL PDL)

#6 Ft. Lauderdale Strikers (NASL) / Laredo Heat (USL PDL) vs. FC Dallas

#7 Charleston Battery (USL-Pro) / Portland Timbers U-23 vs. San Jose Earthquakes

#8 Sporting KC vs. Minnesota United FC (NASL) - Des Moines Menace (USL PDL) / Madison 56ers (NPSL)

#9 Real Salt Lake vs. Atlanta Silverbacks (NASL) / Georgia Revolution (USASA)

#10 LA Blues (USL-Pro) / Ventura County Fusion (USL PDL)  vs. Chivas USA

#11 Carolina Rail Hawks (NASL) / Carolina Dynamo (USL PDL) vs. LA Galaxy

#12 Columbus Crew vs. Dayton Dutch Lions (USL-Pro) / Dearborn SC (USASA) winner

#13 New York Red Bulls  vs. Harrisburg City Islanders (USL-Pro) / Reading United (USL PDL) winner 

#14 San Antonio Scorpions (NASL) / FC Tucson (USL PDL vs. Houston Dynamo

#15 Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL) vs. Seattle Sounders FC -or- Seattle Sounders vs. VSI Tampa Bay (USL-Pro)

#16 Portland Timbers vs. Wilmington Hammerheads (USL-Pro) / Austin Aztex (USL PDL)

13 May 9:19 am

Our Team for the World partner Club America took a big step towards their first domestic title since 2005, defeating Pumas UNAM 2-1 in the second leg of the Liga MX Clasura quarterfinals on Saturday at the Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. 

Heading into the match, America already held a 1-0 aggregate lead after Raul Jimenez struck in the 28th minute of the first leg on Wednesday.

Pumas pulled the series level by virtue of Robin Ramirez' classy one-time volley past Moises Munoz in the 21st minute.

Club America would re-take the lead as Ecuadorian international Christian Benitez finished from close range following a redirected shot in the 56th minute.

With the hosts already looking like they'd advance, Benitez put the final nail in the coffin deep into second half stoppage time, beating Pumas 'keeper Miguel Palacios inside the post to clinch a 3-1 aggregate victory.

With the win, Club America moves on to the Liga MX Clasura semifinals and will vist Montrerrey in Wednesday's first leg before welcoming los Rayados to the Azteca for leg two Saturday night.

The Chicago Fire face Club America in an international friendly on Saturday, July 10 at Toyota Park.

Purchase tickets here!

09 May 12:46 pm

If you follow him on Twitter or Instagram, you'll know Fire midfielder Daniel Paladini is a social butterfly.

Instead of talking to him in 140 characters, why not join him live for a Google+ Hangout Friday afternoon?

Daniel will begin taking your questions at 12:15pm CT but you can begin asking him questions for the chance to win

- 2 FREE Premier tickets to Saturday's match vs. Philadelphia Union

- 2 FREE tickets to next Thursday's Art of Futbol event

- A team-signed Chicago Fire ball.

Submit your questions in the comments section below, on our Facebook or Google+ pages, or by tweeting #AskPaladini!

09 May 7:55 am

The Toyota Park Turf Field has been put to good use this week as the club's full-funded Academy program began tryouts for the 2013/14 Academy season.

The Chicago Tribune was put together a video documenting some of the tryout process with Academy Director Larry Sunderland, Staff Coach Charlie Trout and Director of Soccer & Team Development Paul Cadwell.

08 May 2:02 pm

The soccer world was stopped in its tracks Wednesday as legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson announced this season would be his last.

I got the reaction to the news from the Fire’s resident United supporters, Patrick Nyarko and Brendan King earlier Wednesday.

Patrick Nyarko…

“I actually heard this morning before training. I had a moment. Then I had a moment to think. It’s just sad. I know it’s the right time but sometimes as the speculation has kept on going you start to think it’s never going to happen. You think he’s going to be there until he dies.

“I guess he’s made his decision it’s just a tough one because he’s simply irreplaceable. He’s given the club so much and as he said he left the club in the best possible state.

"I’m curious to see who the next manager is going to be. I’m sure whoever it is he’ll take after Sir Alex. He can’t be him but he can follow the tradition and apply his philosophies to keep the club at a top-level.

“I’d absolutely be alright with the next guy being David Moyes. That guy’s demeanor and his success with Everton with a smaller budget make me feel he’d be successful at United. I think he’s a player’s coach, every player he’s had plays hard for him.

“To go to a bigger club like Manchester United, he’ll have a lot more flexibility and I think he’d be really successful. I’d vouch for him and I hope the United faithful would be behind him.”

Brendan King…

“It’s a sad day. I woke up and checked my Twitter – that’s how I found out. You knew at some point it had to come to an end.

"It’s pretty sad but at the same time it’s great to celebrate what he’s achieved. I grew up a United fan and he’s the only manager I’ve known there.

“Sir Alex is such an iconic figure around Old Trafford and in the English game and he’ll forever be the greatest manager there. It’ll be pretty weird to see someone else sitting where he was – I don’t know if they’ll be chewing gum or not but it’ll be sad to see someone else step in.”

07 May 2:11 pm

UPDATE! The Chicago City Council voted unanimously to pass the the below resolution Tuesday morning.


The Chicago Fire today took part in hearings regarding a historic resolution regarding LGBT athletes to be introduced for passage by the Chicago City Council on Wednesday.

The Fire were represented at Tuesday’s hearings by Senior Director of Communications Dan Lobring who brought to light the club’s support for Robbie Rogers, participation with Equality Illinois in the 2012 Chicago LGBT Pride Parade and Section 8 Chicago’s “Our Diversity, Our Strength” tifo displayed prior to a game against the Houston Dynamo on April 15, 2012.

Sponsored in tandem by Alderman Joe Moore, the City Council’s Human Rights Committee and The Last Closet, should Wednesday’s resolution pass, Chicago would become the second city after San Francisco to declare its backing for LGBT athletes.

The end goal of the resolution is to ultimately get commissioners of all major North American sports leagues to state publicly their support for LGBT athletes, invite them to come out and pledge to make them safe and accepted. 

For more information on Wednesday's resolution, please click here.

02 May 1:26 pm

You could imagine my surprise when I saw the above headline on Grindtv.com...

I thought back to late February when I shot a viral video of an alligator watching the first team train at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. The video has over 40,000 views so of course I wondered what I did wrong... 

As much as I like it when Section 8 Chicago sings "There's only one Jeff Crandall" at Fire reserve matches, I've come to terms with the fact that its probably not true.

I've also come to terms with the fact that I'm not the bravest Jeff Crandall in the world either...

From the article:

"A sheriff’s deputy didn’t bother to wait for a trained alligator trapper to deal with an unruly alligator that was snapping at cars near a dentist’s office in Oldsmar, Florida. Nope, Pinellas County Deputy Jeff Crandall decided to take action himself, since the animal was heading toward the roadway.

According to numerous reports, Crandall grabbed a rope from his trunk, lassoed the gator’s neck, jumped on its back and taped its huge mouth shut—exactly what wildlife officials tell you not to do."

I'd never have done that... In case you've forgotten, this is my closest encounter with a gator...

30 April 8:44 am

The month of May is one day away which means the U.S. Open Cup begins just a week from today.

The 68-team field for the 100th edition of the historic tournament is set, with the play-in round commencing next Tuesday with two matches.

Then every Tuesday throughout the month of May will be a U.S. Open Cup date, with the Fire and Major League Soccer sides entering in the tournament's third round on May 28.

Coming off a difficult extra time loss to the Michigan Bucks at the first hurdle last season, there's no doubt that the four-time tournament champions Chicago Fire are chomping at the bit to get back to Open Cup play.

Be sure to keep up with this year's tournament via the excellent coverage provided by Josh Hakala and his team at TheCup.us

A quick look back on the Fire's four U.S. Open Cup titles:

27 April 10:52 am

Our MLSsoccer.com friends Dan Haiek and Matt Doyle give their view on how Saturday's game vs. Montreal will play out...