While Fire Strength and Conditioning Coach Tony Jouaux took the team through their warmups during the afternoon session, Mathis, Flores and Yallop colluded to play a prank on myself and Fire Press Officer Eunice Kim.
If you would have told 15-year-old Jeff Crandall that one day Clint Mathis would be punking him on camera, he wouldn't have believed you...
Today’s Numbers Game features a switch as second-year Fire midfielder Dilly Duka will now wear the #11. Acquired from Columbus this time last year in exchange for Dominic Oduro, the pair took each other’s numbers when they got to their new clubs (Duka taking 8, Oduro taking 11 in Columbus).
This year, with the Crew’s #8 shirt vacant, Oduro has switched back to his regular number while Duka completes the swap. Coincidentally, #11 became available at the Fire when the team traded Daniel Paladini to Columbus back in December.
“Number 11 is what I’ve worn going back to youth soccer,” Duka said. “It’s what I’m familiar with, it’s part of me as a player.”
Meanwhile, fresh off scoring the game-winner in Sunday’s friendly vs. Florida Gulf Coast Univesity, Giuseppe Gentile becomes the first player in Fire history to wear #92.
The dual Swiss-American citizen, who also happens to speak four languages and also shares a name with an Olympic triple jumper, went the Kellen Gulley route in choosing his number according to the year he was born, 1992.
So with that, we have two trivia questions for today…
1) Dilly Duka becomes the eighth player in Fire history to wear the #11 shirt, name the other seven.
2) What four languages to Giuseppe Gentile speak? We’ll give you a freebie: English.
(SCROLL DOWN FOR ANSWERS)
1) Roman Kosecki (1998-1999), Diego Gutierrez (2000-2001), Billy Sleeth (2002), Nate Jaqua (2003-2006), Thiago (2007), John Thorrington (2008-2010), Daniel Paladini (2011-2013).
2) English, Spanish, Italian and German
The Numbers Game rolls on Tuesday with the latest contestants being the center back duo of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni, who were recently acquired from the Seattle Sounders in a trade that sent Jalil Anibaba the other way.
Let’s start with the Hurtado. The 29-year-old center back will continue to don the same #34 he wore for five seasons in Cascadia. Asked why he’s chosen a somewhat “off the beaten path” soccer number, Hurtado explained 34 was the number he was given when trialing with AC Milan in early 2009.
“The opportunity was a special one and it’s stayed with me ever since,” he told Chicago-Fire.com last week.
Though 34 isn’t the most common soccer number, two Fire players have worn it before. Former Trinidad & Tobago international Osei Telesford was the club’s #34 in 2007 while Austin Washington wore it from 2008-2009.
Meanwhile, Ianni has chosen to suit up wearing the #6 for the Fire this season. Interestingly, Ianni and Anibaba weren’t just in part swapped for each other but they’ve also taken one another’s number at their new club as the former Fire defender will suit up as Seattle’s #4 this season.
Asked about the choice of #6, Ianni said, “I just wanted a lower, defender’s number,” but the only two digits that fit the criteria for the Fire were #2 and #6.
Althought the #2 is free for anyone to choose, Ianni says he took into account the legacy of assistant coach C.J. Brown’s 13 years wearing #2 for the Men in Red and the fact that it’s only been worn one other time for 27 minutes by another Fire player (Wells Thompson in 2012).
In the end, the choice was simple.
“I have a ton of respect for what C.J. did here wearing that number and what that means to Fire supporters. The six shirt suits me just fine.”
QUESTION: Ianni becomes the ninth player in Fire history to wear #6 for the Men in Red. How many of the other eight can you name? (SCROLL BELOW FOR THE ANSWER).
ANSWER: Brian Bates (1998), Tom Soehn (1998-2000), Sergi Daniv (2001), Kelly Gray (2002-2005), Brandon Prideaux (2008-2009), Julio Martinez (2010), Peter Lowry (2010), Jalil Anibaba (2011-2013).
On the first day of full training in Ave Maria last week, we mic'd up head coach Frank Yallop for a forthcoming preseason documentary.
What he hadn't planned on was the Ave Maria groundskeeper doing us a solid by mis-timing the sprinklers...
Watch Frank's reaction below and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos throughout 2014 preseason
The final day of training in Ave Maria saw a spirited hour and a half session before the coaching staff held a Q&A with members of the Florida Fire Juniors club. See photos of the day's proceedings below:
After nearly a month of training camp and an early January trip to Brazil, Fire forward Mike Magee and goalkeeper Sean Johnson are set for Saturday afternoon's U.S. friendly vs. South Korea at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif.
For Johnson, January camp has become part of his preseason routine, while Magee's only been to one previous camp, way back in 2005. The 2013 MLS MVP spoke to ESPNFC's Doug McIntyre about his hopes of finally receiving his first U.S. cap at the age of 29 on Saturday and goal of making the U.S. team for this summer's FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Catch the U.S. take on South Korea Saturday at 4:00pm CT on ESPN2, Watch ESPN and Unimas.
UPDATE: U.S. Soccer has announced Magee will not dress for today's friendly due to food poisoning. I don't even know what to say. We love you Mike, feel better.
New Fire assistant coach Clint Mathis scored a few goals in his career, many of which were stunning.
There was this darting run in 2001 vs. Dallas that wound up winning MLS Goal of the Year.
There was also this one-time volley from 2004 while playing for Hannover 96 in Germany.
But if you got this far into this blog post and didn't already know what the favorite goal of Clint's career was, you haven't been a U.S. Soccer fan long enough. Of course you know what it is:
Daegu, South Korea.
June 10, 2002.
Deft touch with his right.
Beautiful finish with his left.
Jack Edwards: "That's why he's here!"
When I asked him this question which was very easily answered, Clint, with his Southern Charm, responded like he'd never been asked before saying, "The goal in 2002. That’s one that my kids can tell their grandkids and it’s one of those situations where I have some goals I remember playing in the league but it’s different when you score in MLS vs. the World Cup.
"I think the significance behind that goal – it ended up being the one goal we needed to get out of the group because of the other results that happened on the final day to put us through – you just can’t rate anything higher than that. You can't forget it."
Ahhh, just watch it again:
As Sunday's first preseason friendly vs. Florida Gulf Coast University approaches, more number choices are being made.
Today's "Numbers Game" features the club's two new Homegrown players Chris Ritter and Harry Shipp who have chosen #21 and #19 respectively. Asked if their was any significance behind their number choice, both said, "No, not really."
The #19 shirt has been worn by nine players previously and was actually worn by six different player's in the club's first five years. Those were Josh Keller, Jeff Zaun, Yuri Lavrinenko, Chad Prince and David Vaudreuil before Craig Capano donned the shirt from 2002-2004. Jim Curtin's little brother Jeff wore #19 in 2007 while Corben Bone was the most recent #19 from 2010-2013.
Most notably, Chad Barrett (pictured above) switched to the #19 shirt in 2008 when the club acquired Tomasz Frankowski who moved into the #9 shirt. Barrett wore #19 for half a season before being dealt to Toronto FC in the Brian McBride trade that August. So in closing, Harry has the chance to really make #19 his own.
Conversely, Ritter is just the fourth player in club history to wear the #21 shirt. Michael Videira most recently wore it the past three seasons but before him, two of the club's top offensive leaders wore #21.
Dema Kovalenko (1999-2002)
Justin Mapp (2003-2010)
Coincidentally, the Fire acquired Mapp from D.C. United for Dema Kovalenko prior to the start of the 2003 MLS campaign. Kovalenko sits fourth on the club's All Competitions goal scoring list with 26, while Mapp sits fourth on the All Competitions assists list with 35.
Select shots from Wednesday morning's training session in Ave Maria, Fla.
Select shots from Tuesday morning's training session in Ave Maria, Florida