Blog

jeff crandall

08 February 9:15 am

Earlier this week, the club released the news that Chris Rolfe would return to wearing the number 17 while Steven Kinney would fill the number 18 shirt in 2013 for the Fire. Today, we announce a few more number changes, this time with three offseason acquisitions…

A new midfield partnership for Joel Lindpere and Jeff Larentowicz in Chicago has at least in part brought along with it new numbers than those the pair have previously ever worn.

Having worn 20 during his three seasons at Red Bull, Lindpere will now suit up in the number 26 this year for the Fire. He says switching number has actually been part of the routine whenever he’s joined a new club.

“I’ve been a different number at every club I’ve been to. It’s always sort of like a new beginning for me,” he joked.

PERUSE: TrueCar Chicago Fire Player Registry

In reality, he also selected 26 out of respect for Fire players that have been with the club longer than him.

“I chose it because I knew some of the other guys that had been here for a while were choosing new numbers. I wanted to just pick a number no one else would -- it was one no one had worn in a while at the Fire and now it’s mine.”

NOTE: Previous #26s in Fire History: Mike Sorber (2000), Amos Magee (2001), Billy Walsh (2002), Denny Clanton (2004), Andy Herron (2006, 2008).

Having worn numbers 31 and 13 while with New England and number 4 while with the Colorado Rapids, Larenowicz is changing it up again by choosing the number 20.

Much like Lindpere, it was about starting a new in Chicago…

 “I think it’s a good looking number,” said Larentowicz. “I’ve never worn it before and moving to Chicago I was looking for a fresh start and I didn’t want to feel or look like I did in the past.”

NOTE: Previous #20s in Fire History: Francis Okaroh (1998-99), Jamar Beasley (2001), Sergi Daniv (2002), Orlando Perez (2003-04), Tony Sanneh (2005-06), Mike Banner (2008), Brian McBride (2008-10), Tony Walls (2012)

The more things change, the more they stay the same as Brazilian forward Maicon Santos will stick with the number 29 that he’s worn with previous MLS clubs Chivas USA, Toronto FC and D.C. United.

NOTE: Previous #29s in Fire History: Thiago (2005), Peter Lowry (2008-2009).

GALLERY: The #20s, #26s and #29s in Chicago Fire History

 

07 February 7:34 pm

Chicago Fire goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi seems to be in fine form after offseason surgery to repair his pinkie finger.

Check out this video of a drill from a few days ago where Paolo shows fine form on a few stops (special thanks to James Belshaw for stepping right in front of me there too...)

07 February 10:32 am

Very few people have meant as much to the soccer scene in Chicago as Frank Klopas.

Tonight Dave Kaplan goes in depth with the Fire manager to talk how he came to The Windy City and learn more about his intertwining soccer story with the Sting, U.S. Men's National Team, AEK Athens and of course the Fire over the past 30 years "Inside Look" (7:00pm CT on CSN Chicago).

CSNChicago.com's Len Ziehm previews the show here.

 

06 February 12:14 pm

I'm pleased to announce that Saturday's preseason friendly vs. the San Jose Earthquakes at Harder Stadium in Santa Barbara, Calif. will stream live on Chicago-Fire.com beginning at 8pm CT/6pm PT.

The stream will mark the third of four preseason matches that have had live video coverage on Chicago-Fire.com this preseason. 

As a reminder, all three Fire matches at the Carolina Challenge Cup later this month will also be carried live on Chicago-Fire.com. By the end of preseason, six of the team's seven total warmup matches will have been carried with live video while all seven will have had some type of live coverage.

Fire fans in Southern California can get tickets to Saturday's friendly for $12 (adults), $8 (youth). Click here to purchase.

06 February 11:16 am

Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson is in Honduras for this afternoon's opening Final Round CONCACAF qualifying match vs. los Catrachos (LIVE pre-game beginning at 2pm CT on beIN Sport).

It's unlikely Sean will see time in the match, much less even dress but the honor of being chosen is still great.

Check out video excerpts from Tuesday's pre-game press conference with head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and midfielder Michael Bradley here.

Also re-live the team's last visit to San Pedro Sula, a dramatic match in which the U.S. qualified for its sixth straight FIFA World Cup appearance, below:

05 February 12:25 pm

What do musical acts The Talking Heads, the Rolling Stones and Paul Simon all have in common?

They’re all favorite musical stylings of Fire midfielder Jeff Larentowicz.
 
The Ginger Ninja waxes about his musical tastes with Jon Langford of The Chevin in a new piece to MLSsoccer.com called The Tuesday Top 10.

05 February 8:03 am

Preseason is always a lot of work and a lot of fun.

One of the best parts though is the ongoing saga of number choice throughout camp as players leave, new players come in.

Last week on Twitter I alluded to the fact that more than a few new numbers would be announced in the coming days and the first two are in…

Fire forward Chris Rolfe re-launched his dormant Twitter account (aptly named @ChrisRolfe17) last week to ask Fire supporters their thoughts on his switching back to #17.

Rolfe had worn the number through his first five seasons with the Fire but when he re-joined the side last April, Mexican legend Pavel Pardo had it.

“There was no need to try and shift things around then,” Rolfe told Chicago-Fire.com. “While 18 was good for me last year I thought that it would be a good idea to switch back to 17 when it became available.”

With Pardo’s retirement announcement last month, the opportunity arose and the league recently approved Rolfe’s change back to the numerals with which he’s scored 40 of his 48 Fire goals across all competitions.

Check out the impromptu and sort of awesome video of the first new "Rolfe 17" jersey being pressed by Assistant Equipment Manager Allan Araujo below...

NOTE: All-Time Fire #17s: Andrew Lewis, (1998-2001), Aleksey Korol (2002), Dipsy Selolwane (2002-2004), Rolfe (2005-2009), Davis Paul (2011), Pavel Pardo (2011-12), Rolfe (2013- )

Kinney’s Switch

With the #18 left vacant, renaissance Fire defender Steven Kinney jumped at the opportunity to switch from #28.

“My whole life I had been #18,” said Kinney. “Coming here the first year Mike Banner had it and through all my injuries I wasn’t going to be switching numbers. Then Rolfie came in and had it last year but when I heard him talk about switching to 17 I knew it was time to make my move.

Asked why #18 had always been his number, Kinney said, “It’s always just felt lucky for me. I would have done anything to get my hands on it.”

To be fair, he didn’t have to do too much.

NOTE: All-Time Fire #18s: Zach Thornton (1998-2004), Matt Pickens, (2005-2007), Mike Banner (2008-2010), Gaston Puerari (2011), Chris Rolfe (2012)

Stay tuned later this week for more updates on Fire squad numbers heading into 2013. 

WATCH: Rolfe #17 is BACK!

 

04 February 7:09 pm

A quick update on unsigned players currently with the team in Ventura, Calif...

Unsigned holdovers from Ave Maria
James Belshaw – GK – Supplemental Draft
Alec Kann – GK – Trialist
Neal Kitson – GK – Trialist
John Gallagher – DF – Supplemental Draft
Rauwshan McKenzie – DF – Trialist
Yazid Atouba – MF – SuperDraft Pick

*Note that while not listed, forward Colin Rolfe picked up an injury during the Columbus friendly last week. The former Houston Dynamo draftee won’t be with the team in Ventura but will re-join the squad in Charleston.

Players Departed:
Rich Balchan – DF – Trialist
Caleb Konstanski – DF – Supplemental Draft Pick
Eric Robertson – DF – Trialist
Trialist #1 - MF - Trialist

New Trialists for Phase Two

Blake Brettschneider; Forward (D.C. United, New England Revolution)
If it seems like you just saw Brettschneider, that’s because he was on trial with the Crew, playing against the Fire in last Wednesday’s friendly. The South Carolina alum has made a habit of earning a spot on an MLS rosters in preseason, impressing D.C. United (2011) and New England Revolution (2012).

Like Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson, Brettschneider is also from Lilburn, Ga. and attended rival high school Parkview High School

Dailos Tejera; Forward (Conquense; Spanish Tercera Division)
A 22-year-old midfielder/forward that played in the Spanish second division with Conquense before being relegated after the 2011-12 season.

Kevin Mercado; Forward (LDU Quito; Ecuador)
One of two players on trial from LDU Quito, Mercado is an 18-year-old forward who made it into five matches during LDU’s 2012 campaign in Ecuador.

Jose Alexander Pabon Midfielder (LDU Quito; Ecuador)
The other trialist from LDU Quito, the 21-year-old Pabon has been with the club’s first team since 2010, appearing in 13 matches in midfield.

There are also two other new trialists that for discovery reasons will remain unnamed… Call them Trialist #3 and Trialist #4. 

04 February 10:40 am

Five things you should know about the newest member of the Fire, Dilly Duka.

1) He's Albanian-American and his name is short for "Dilaver".

2)  Dude's also got the Twitter machine, follow @D_Duka11.

3) A product of Montville, NJ, Duka came up in the New York Red Bulls Academy and went to Rutgers for two years before signing a Generation adidas contract and being selected eighth overall by Columbus in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.

4) He scored a ridiculous goal from the left wing for the U.S. U-20’s in the 66th minute of the team’s 4-1 win over Cameroon at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Championships in Egypt. (See video below, start at 2:45).

5) The trade to the Fire reunites him with U.S. U-20 teammate Sean Johnson. Check out a great flashback shot of Sean Johnson beginning at 42 seconds of at video….

WATCH: Dilly Duka Scores Impressive Goal at 2009 U-20 World Cup

04 February 8:38 am

Though he didn’t have all that much to do in the U.S. Men’s National Team’s 0-0 friendly draw vs. Canada last week, it seems clear the Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson remains in Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans after being one of three goalkeepers called in for Wednesday’s CONCACAF Final Round World Cup qualifier at Honduras (LIVE 3pm CT on beIN Sport).

The summons means Johnson will miss most of the team’s second phase of preseason camp in Ventura, Calif. but nearly a month of training with the national team won’t leave him out of shape.

Consistently called up since last August’s 1-0 friendly win at Mexico, the 90 minutes the fourth-year Fire ‘keeper earned in Wednesday’s draw seems to indicate Johnson is stating a strong case for the U.S. Men’s third goalkeeper shirt behind English Premier League veterans Tim Howard and backup Brad Guzan.

Should his form hold up and the U.S. Men navigate another difficult CONCACAF qualifying test, Johnson could find his way to Brazil next year.

There are still too many variables to allow anyone to get that far ahead and strong competition will remain from the likes of veteran Nick Rimando (injured for January camp), as well as Johnson’s friendly rival Bill Hamid.

While the trio wouldn't be expected to appear in this year's qualifying matches, with the U.S. expected to send a B-team to the this summer's CONCACAF Gold Cup, the tournament will likely serve as the next indication as to who Klinsmann favors for the presumable third spot.

Even if he’s not always playing in matches, the 23-year-old's continued inclusion in camps, working with the best ‘keepers American soccer has offer, can only help with his chances and his form for the Fire.

It should be an interesting year for Sean and the U.S...

Remember the last time the U.S. went to Honduras?

Trailing 1-0 just after the break, the U.S. used a brace from Conor Casey and a Landon Donovan free kick to eventually win the match 3-2 and qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Check out highlights below: