While the MLS offseason continues to grow shorter and shorter, at times it can be slightly boring compared to the fast-paced nature of what comes from January to October (and hopefully November).
With #cf97withdrawals inhabiting my brain as I await the very big schedule announcement that will allow me to figure out what away cities I’d like to visit, I did have one thought and request from Major League Soccer…
WATCH: Nyarko's Blast from Distance (10/27/2012)
Over the last three seasons, MLS has found a way to schedule a match between the Fire and D.C. United in October and whether deserved or not, to their credit those games have always been memorable…
In 2010, the Fire’s last home game came against United, with perhaps the 0-0 draw being overshadowed by American soccer legend Brian McBride taking his final bow in his hometown of Chicago.
In 2011, who could forget the Fire’s incredible, “Capitol Comeback” which saw the team score two stoppage time goals to win the match after just conceding a Dwayne DeRosario penalty kick at RFK?
The 1-1 draw between the teams this past October was less memorable because of the result but still provided some excellent moments. Among them, Patrick Nyarko’s stunning goal from distance in the first half as well as the Fire’s late barrage on United goalkeeper Bill Hamid with playoff positioning on the line.
Maybe it’s just dumb luck or the MLS scheduling computer has psychic powers but each instance has provided moments that fans of at least one team won’t forget.
With that in mind, my request to the MLS league office as well as United:
Keep things going for 2013 and have the Fire host D.C. on Friday, October 25 to mark the 15 year anniversary of MLS Cup 1998. Why not package it as one of NBC Sports Network’s Friday night broadcasts?
With both teams showing reinvigorated form this past season, coupled with the famous Austin Berry/Nick DeLeon Rookie of the Year battle, perhaps the flames of rivalry that waned over recent years have been fanned once again.
Even better, Frank Klopas and Ben Olsen both played against each other in the match as did Josh Wolff who now serves as an assistant in D.C.
The storylines going in would be as good as any and if there’s as much to play for as when the two sides met this past October, it would have all the makings of being another memorable game, one that the Fire would hopefully win 2-0.
The openers are set to be announced any day now but there's plenty of time to make something like this happen before the full schedule release.
Hopefully we can see it happen.
WATCH: The Run to MLS Cup '98
After Day 1 of the 2012 Chicago Fire Open Tryouts, below is the final list of players selected to participate in Day 2 on Saturday. Thanks to all the participants!
Miguel Lopez Varela
Celso De La Luz Machuca
Leon Fabio Zapata
The 2012 Chicago Fire Open Tryouts have just kicked off at the Bridgeview Sports Dome! We'll have live updates of the players that advanced through every session right here! Stay tuned!
Over the last few years, tifo displays have become a rather large part of showcasing the vibrancy of a club’s supporters.
Long before tifo became the backdrop for so many wire photos and national broadcasts, it was Section 8 Chicago that helped to pioneer the movement in MLS circles.
It’s hard to forget some of the very memorable displays the ISA has come up with over the years: Super Mario Bros., “La Vida es un Carnivale”, “Tonight, We Reignite the Fire” and the Diversity display are just a few.
While all of those are very elaborate displays that take months of planning and work, much more simple displays (referred to as two-poles for the mechanisms that hold them in the air) have also become staples of the Harlem End.
Personal favorites of mine are the Stewie Griffin (right), The Blues Brothers and even my own special display that made its way into the Section earlier this year.
As we head towards the 2013 season, Section 8 is holding a Tifo Workshop this Sunday, December 16 from noon to 7pm at ChiTown Futbol (2255 S. Throop) in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.
The workshop is open to all Fire fans who wish to create where their own two-pole or wall banner to hang at Fire matches. Folks that come out can also learn more about the work involved in creating the larger, aforementioned tifo displays that decorate the stadium from time to time.
The Banner Workshop will run from 12 noon until 7PM, and Tifo Crew members will be on hand to help you with your project. Bring your design on a USB flash drive or on a computer that has an HDMI output. Supplies will be provided by Section 8 Chicago.
Check out this video from the Tifo Crew Workshop held at ChiTown in Feburary…
See you Sunday!
What better way to celebrate the day then by taking a look back at the men who have worn 12 for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club…
Ante Razov (#12 from 1998-99)
Ante began what would go on to be an illustrious club goal-scoring record wearing 12 in his first two seasons in Chicago. As he did almost every season he was with the Fire, the young striker led the team in goals across all competitions both years he wore the number, tallying 11 to go with an apt 12 assists in 1998 before bagging 18 and seven assists the following season.
In all, Razov wore the number 12 in 75 competitive matches over the two seasons before Jerzy Podbrozny’s departure allowed him to switch to the number 9 for the 2000 seaosn.
Carlos Bocanegra (#12 in 2000)
Many forget that the future U.S. Men’s National Team captain, who came to wear lower defensive numbers later in his career, began his rookie season in 2000 with the number 12.
It would suit Boca well, as he tallied one goal and one assist in 39 competitive matches, en route to helping the Fire to the 2000 U.S. Open Cup title, an MLS Cup final appearance and that season’s Rookie of the Year honors.
Following Sam George’s retirement in early November 2000, Bocanegra would switch to the number 4, wearing it until his departure for Fulham following the 2003 MLS season.
Justin Evans (#12 in 2001)
In 2000, midfielder Justin Evans had been a Fire call-up from the A-League’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds when national team commitments left Bob Bradley with a thin lineup. The following season, the Fire actually selected Evans in the MLS SuperDraft with the defensive midfielder appearing in seven competitive matches wearing the number 12 that year.
In July 2001, he was traded to Dallas for future considerations and would go on to have a fruitful career in USL and indoor leagues. Evans has been the head coach of the Riverhounds since 2010.
Logan Pause (#12 from 2003-06, 2010-present)
After the 12 shirt sat vacant during the 2002 season, Fire rookie midfielder Logan Pause would begin occupying it the following season. In his first stint with the number, the defensive midfielder and sometimes right back would make 117 appearances, tallying five assists and would go on to win the 2003 and 2006 U.S. Open Cups as well as the 2003 MLS Supporters Shield.
Sometime between the end of 2006 and start of 2007, Pause switched to the number 7, wearing it for three seasons before switching back to 12 in 2010.
I asked Logan about the reasons behind the switch earlier this year and perhaps channeling Yogi Berra just a tad he responded saying, “At the time I felt more like a number seven and around 2010 I felt like a number 12 again.”
Pause has worn the number each of the last three seasons, scoring two of his three career goals while in it. Much like he’s one of the longest all-time tenured members of the club, Pause has occupied the 12 longer than any other Fire player, wearing it in 211 competitive matches across seven seasons.
Paulo Wanchope (#12 in 2007)
The legendary Costa Rican striker joined the Fire from FC Tokyo midway through 2007 and wore the 12 shirt in 13 matches that season, scoring two goals before bringing an end to his illustrious career.
Patrick Nyarko (#12 in 2008)
Much like forgetting Bocanegra wore the shirt, I’d forgotten Patrick Nyarko briefly suited up as #12 during his rookie year of 2008. This is perhaps because Nyarko didn’t play for the Fire in the first half of the season as he finished his degree at Virginia Tech.
Before moving to the number 14 the following season, Nyarko tallied his first-ever goal in the 12 shirt, scoring the lone strike in a 1-0 home win over Chivas USA on August 2, 2008.
Atletico de Madrid
Though Lionel Messi set a very impressive career mark on Sunday, it would be hard to argue anyone on the planet had as good of a weekend as Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao who scored five goals in Atleti’s 6-0 home win over Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.
Teammate Diego Costa put Atletico ahead 1-0 in the 23rd minute before Flacao unleashed a fury of goals in the 28th, 42nd, 64th, 68th and 71st minutes as the club eased to victory over the La Liga bottom dwellers.
The goal fest moved Falcao past Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and into second on the La Liga goal charts with 16, sitting behind only Barcelona’s Messi who has 23 goals in the current campaign.
Atletico will shift focus to Copa del Rey play when they welcome Getafe to the Calderon for the first leg of their series on Wednesday.
Sitting six points behind Barcelona at second place in the La Liga table, the club will hope to cut into the lead when they travel to the Nou Camp for a top of the table clash on Sunday.
See all the goals from Sunday below...
In Turkish Super League play on Friday, Besiktas ran out to a 2-0 lead over Eskisehirspor through Slovakian striker Filip Holosko (sixth minute) and Portuguese forward Hugo Almeida (66th minute).
They often say that in soccer 2-0 is the most dangerous lead though and that proved true as Eskisehirspor pulled two late goals back through a Necate Antes penalty in the 82nd minute before Austrian substitute Atdhe Nuhiu equalized in the 90th.
With the 2-2 draw, Besiktas sit third on 26 points in the Super League heading into Wednesday’s Turkish Cup match at Antalyaspor. They return to league play Saturday when they visit ninth place Genclebirligi.
Raja Casablanca remained first in the Moroccan Botola Pro League, earning four points in two matches last week.
The Green Eagles downed Moghreb Tetouan 3-1 at home last Wednesday before playing to a 0-0 draw at Maghreb Fez on Sunday.
With 23 points, the side sits one point above second place Wydad Casablanca with a game in hand, heading into their top of the table clash this Friday.
Despite going into its third-year of existence, the MLS Re-Entry process still leaves plenty of folks scratching their heads every December. I'll try to explain the ins and outs ahead of today's Stage One Draft...
What is it?
The Re-Entry Process is confusing because its also unique in terms of North American sport. The idea came as a compromise to help settle the latest Collect Bargaining Agreement in early 2010.
In essence, the Re-Entry Process is Major League Soccer's form of free agency, allowing players that meet certain requirements the opportunity to test the waters of moving to another team. Prior to the signing of the current CBA, teams still held league rights to players that were out of contract, meaning that in order for a player to move, a team would need to waive his rights or a trade would have to occur.
Under the new terms, players that have played a minimum of three years in MLS and are at least 23 years of age are eligible for the annual Re-Entry process should their current team decline their option or if they're out of contract. Full eligibility requirements for players can be found in Section II.G here.
There are two stages to the Re-Entry Process, each with different caveats...
Explaining Stage One
Thursday night MLS released the final list of players eligible for Stage One of the 2012 Re-Entry Process set for Friday at 2 p.m. CT. Prior to the release, players had up until 4 p.m. CT Thursday to opt out of the draft.
This was the case for Gonzalo Segares, who re-signed with the club on Thursday. With that transaction, two Fire players, midfielder Corben Bone and goalkeeper Jay Nolly, remained on the list of 52 players eligible for selection.
UPDATE: As of 1:30 p.m. CT, Fire defender Dan Gargan was added to the Stage One Re-Entry list by the league.
Teams that pick players at Stage One on Friday must exercise the option (pick up the player's salary), or in the case of out of contract players, extend a Bona Fide Offer to, the player. If the player rejects the offer, the drafting club will hold the right of first refusal for that player in MLS (the player's league rights). Teams may not select their own players in Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft.
Held via conference call, generally Stage One of the Re-Entry Process is a quick affair, with only five players having been selected in the previous two stages combined. This is generally because of the first caveat above, by which a team must pick up the salary of a player's whose option hae been declined (the majority of players available fall under this category).
Players that are not selected in Stage One are then able to come back to the table with their club and negotiate up until a second blackout period begins on Thursday, December 13 at 4 p.m. CT.
After passing through the first stage of Re-Entry in 2010, Jovan Kirovski re-negotiated his contract to stay with the LA Galaxy another season, prior to Stage Two.
Expaining Stage Two
This is where the magic happens as Stage Two of the Re-Entry Process is one of the biggest days of player movement within the league every year.
In 2010, 11 players were chosen in Stage Two while 10 were take in 2011.
Set for next Friday, December 14 at 2 p.m. CT, players that are selected in Stage Two can negotiate a new salary with the team that has chosen them. As long as that salary is deemed as a genuine offer by MLS, the team retains the player's league rights.
A genuine offer must be placed within seven days of selection, though a signing doesn't necessarily need to happen in that time as negotiations can continue.
A team is eliminated from Stage Two once they pass on their turn. A team can only select it's own player once all other clubs have passed on that player.
Players that pass through both stages of the Re-Entry process are deemed free agents and available on a first-come, first-served basis to all MLS teams.
Fire History in the Re-Entry Process
The Fire have selected two players through the Re-Entry Process and both had different cases.
In 2011, the Fire picked forward Kheli Dube, also from New England but the Zimbabwean forward didn't sign a contract with the club until late January as the two parties negotiated terms of the deal.
The team has also had two players selected from it in the Re-Entry Process.
In 2011, the Fire saw midfielder Baggio Husidic and goalkeeper Jon Conway chosen in Stage Two by the Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy respectively. Neither player signed with those clubs as Husidic elected to sign for Swedish side Hammarby while Conway announced his retirement.
We here at Always on the Inside like seeing nice goals. We like it even more when nice goals are scored by product's of the club's player development system.
Today, we take a trip in the way back machine to two days ago when Fire U-16 Academy striker Luca Giovine hit an absolute blinder in the 66th minute to give the side a 2-0 lead over Portland Timbers at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Showcase in Lakewood Ranch, Fla. Giovine would also assist on the third goal from Alex Underwood to give the Fire a 3-0 win over Portland.
Certainly the team highlight at the showcase was going 3-0-0 and defeating two MLS Academies, Giovine's second second strike of the three-game set takes individual honors.
Watch below (at the 44 second mark)....
In this edition of Burning Questions we sat down with Italian goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi. The former Inter Milan youth product earned a spot on the Fire roster after impressing the technical staff during preseason and started the first three games of the 2012, posting a shutout while helping the team to a 1-1-1 record. Prior to heading back for offseason in Milan, Paolo took the time to answer our Burning Questions about the worst American fashion trend, the best Italian restaurants in Chicago and his favorite MLS away city.
Always on the Inside: Favorite thing to do in the summer here in Chicago?
Paolo Tornaghi: It’s nice in the summer to go to the lake and the beach. I like to ride my bike on the bike path from Navy Pier to North Beach.
AOTI: Have you checked out any of the Italian restaurants here in Chicago? What’s the best one and how does it compare?
PT: There are a couple. One is Prosecco and one is Marcello. It’s like home.
AOTI: Do you cook? If so, what is your specialty?
PT: Not too much but I do cook. The easiest is pasta.
AOTI: You’re from Milan, which is considered one of the fashion capitals of the world. What’s your favorite place to shop?
PT: There’s the coast of Vittorio Emanuele. It’s a beautiful street with a lot of stores. It’s not very, very expensive but it’s nice.
AOTI: What is the worst American fashion trend?
PT: There are a lot but I think the shirts are too wide. They’re not fitted to the body.
AOTI: Which of your teammates is the best and worst dressed?
PT: I think Pavel Pardo is the best, because he has the European style. I don’t want to say a worst, I’m too respectful.
AOTI: You recently tweeted that you were having surgery on your finger. How’s the new finger?
PT: It’s heavier. There’s a lot of iron inside.
AOTI: What’s your favorite MLS away city that you visited this season?
PT: New York. It was my first time there. We went to Times Square and it was beautiful with all the lights.