Blog

Chicago Fire

11 November 9:07 am

Because we love quoting what Landon Donovan says about current members of the Fire, we couldn't help ourselves when we saw his quote about his former coach with both San Jose and LA, Frank Yallop in Sunday's feature in the Chicago Tribune.

"Frank is the epitome of a players coach," Donovan said. "Every player who ever has played for him absolutely loved their time with him and would run through a wall for him. … He treats his players with respect and inspires hard work and success through calm leadership."

Landon's quote goes along with everything I've heard about the Fire's new head coach and Director of Soccer from former players and while Yallop admits he has a lot of work to do this offseason, you can't help but be excited about the first time he actually gets to coach the Fire in 2014.

Just 11 more Saturdays until the start of preseason and 15 until March...

Check out the full feature from Jack McCarthy here [+].

04 November 1:06 pm

In this business when you swear you won't use your laptop for a day, often times you miss something. Such was the case for yours truly Friday as I took a much-needed day off following 10 months of non-stop career work...

So the story goes, I missed what seems to be a pretty clear, if not indirect endorsement of Mike Magee for MVP from a former teammate and probably the greatest American soccer player of all-time, Landon Donovan.

It came in an article from Scott French on MLSsoccer.com where the veteran So-Cal writer spoke with Robbie Rogers about the trade that saw his rights traded to LA in exchange for Magee to come to Chicago.

While the article centered mainly on Rogers adjustment to LA, Donovan, who is teammates with another potential MLS MVP candidate in Robbie Keane, had this to say of his Magee's exploits this season in Chicago:

“Would we like Mike Magee here? Yes,” he said. “I think any team wants the MVP of the league on their team, so, yeah, we would like Mike here. But the reality is Mike's not here, and we're all happy for Mike, and there's no guarantee those things [Magee achieved in Chicago] would have happened had Mike stayed here."

If you know Magee, he'd traded the chance to still be playing for any individual accolade but it does seem we should add Landon to the list of MLSsoccer.com editorsWashington Post reporter Steven Goff and Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney on #MikeMageeMVP endorsements.

03 November 7:45 am

There's a decent chance if you were coming to Toyota Park from the south, west or even sometimes the north prior to 2011, you played a game called 71st Street Train Roulette.

You know what I'm talking about. 71st Street would provide great access to Toyota Park if only one of those long freight trains wasn't crawling through at the time. If you got past the train tracks, it was a cool final breeze to the stadium.

If you got stopped by the train (especially close to kickoff) it was gut wrenching to have to sit and watch as it slowly passed by or even stop on the tracks as the game began in earnest inside Toyota Park.

At the end of 2011 access to the stadium from north-bound 71st Street was shutdown in order to build an underpass that would eliminate the need for 71st Street Train Roulette. Of course this didn’t make things easier for those coming from any of the above mentioned directions as you simply couldn’t gain access to the stadium. 

It was a two-year headache that made entering and exiting from Toyota Park difficult.

All for the greater good though as the project was completed this past week and a ceremony held Saturday morning featuring Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to open the 71st Street Bridge.

It’s been a long wait and we’re glad it’s over…

 

28 October 2:29 pm
Wait. What just happened? The Fire were up 1-0 with just over one hour left in their season. The first 25 minutes were insanely fast, yes, but the Fire were creating chances and were up a goal. Dilly Duka in particular looked menacing, and Mike Magee had got his 21st to lead the league in goals! The Fire only needed a draw and there was one hour left!
 
Then Anangono lost the ball at the NYRB box. They made one, two passes and boom. This ridiculous goal from Thierry Henry sent the Fire reeling.
 
 
What can you do? Henry didn’t even see the ball coming until it was basically on his chest. His volley was so powerful it was in the net before Sean Johnson could move his feet.
 
Suddenly the Red Bulls had not only recovered, they were growing, and the first half turned into one of the best the MLS had this year. Top quality superstars playing like it. MLS playoffs, Supporters’ Shield, and Golden Boot on the line. Red Bull Arena was the loudest it’s ever been. Things got hectic. The players were all over the field like a game of Benzedrine capture the flag. Johnson saved from Peguy Luyindola. Duka hit the side netting. Tackles were coming in from everywhere, and the only time to breathe came at the whistle for halftime.
 
So it was 1-1 and the Fire were still in the playoffs. A draw was all they needed. But we know what happened next. NYRB came out of halftime like a pack of wild dogs. They overran the Fire, starting with their hyena pack second goal, then their third, and so on and so on until five-two. Five-two - a result we’ll all remember.
 
But what happened?! How can NYRB have just three more wins than the Fire and be the best team of the regular season while the Fire are done? Whither the knife’s edge?!
 
After some time to digest, you could say the Fire just ran up against a team that simply wasn’t going to be beaten - or tied - on Sunday. NYRB was a hot team that hadn’t lost since August 25, playing in front of the best crowd most of them had ever seen at home, with a long tortured fan base poised to lift the organization’s first ever trophy. Their superstars (Henry, Tim Cahill) were inspired, the team was clicking all fall, and nobody was beating them that night.
 
So then we can ask how the Fire ended up having to play the best team in MLS with the season on the line, but we know that story. We know about the crazy ride that was the 2013 Chicago Fire. 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, etc. The pre-Magee era, the hot June, the U.S. Open Cup semifinal loss, the Anangono-Rios era, the late burst into playoff contention. Despite it all, they needed just one more point. It’s easy to look for it in games like the draw in Toronto, the blown lead against Montreal, gut punch games against Houston and Philly. The points don’t lie.
 
No, what we saw on Sunday night was what we’ve seen in parts all year. We saw a first half with some of the most entertaining footy you’ll see, and then the second half was so brutal that, to paraphrase Richard Jeni, you’d rather give birth to a porcupine that is on fire than watch it again.
 
But it wasn’t totally unexpected. That two-faced nature has been as much a part of the Fire as anything else this year. It’s just too bad it resurfaced when it did. Maybe Magee was hobbled from rolling his ankle early in the game. Maybe the Fire missed Jeff Larentowicz after accumulating too many yellows. Either way, this was the evil inconsistent side of the 2013 Fire. It’s the team that can make a 4-4-2 look like the most advanced formation around only to deteriorate into a side with little shape, leaving mismatches and wide open space all over the field.
 
After the two quick go ahead goals, NYRB was able to sit back and pick their spots. The Fire reverted to some ugly and desperate long balls that never quite came off and the second half raced to its depressing conclusion.
 
We have all fall and winter to think about what happened. How the Fire went, in 60 minutes, from one of the hottest teams heading into the playoffs to going home, season over. But personally I won’t only think about 5-2. I’ll think about Magee Face, Larentowicz Face, Duka’s megs, Chris Rolfe’s megs, all the megs!, Jalil Anibaba’s swing and miss in the wind against Philadelphia and his rocket against Dallas, Magee’s spike, the blue kit, the third kit, Joel Lindpere’s crosses, assistant coach Leo Percovich’s hair, the way Dan Kelly uses “class” as an adjective, the #cf97 moodswings, the drama, and the totally unpredictable energy that was the 2013 Chicago Fire.
28 October 7:39 am
Quote Sheet
Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls
Red Bull Arena – Harrison, NJ
Sunday, Oct. 27

CHICAGO FIRE HEAD COACH FRANK KLOPAS

On the match:
Yeah I mean I just think that we had some chances in the first half and I think if we could have got the second goal I think that could have changed things a little bit and then I think when we started the second half we had some bad turnovers in bad spots. I feel we had the ball and we turned it over and when they get the ball in good spots they have quality players that are going to hurt you. In the first half we had our chances to score another goal and the second half was just the key I think, in possession when we had it I think we just turned it over in bad spots and then once they went two, three up, we knew the score, we knew the results of the other game and we had to push the game. From then on, for me, it really didn’t matter; we just kept on pushing to try to come back [and at least tie the match to get into the playoffs].

On the season:
Right now it’s a lot of emotions. I’m proud of the guys just the way the second half of the season [went] and we were probably the best team in the league in the second half of the season. Through adversity you learn and you become better but I think the group fought all the way to the end, it’s just unfortunate that early on [in the season] if you get one more win it’s a different thing. I take my hat off to the guys because they competed. I know it’s disappointing right now for sure, but you have to learn from every situation and move on.

On Mike Magee:
For me he’s the MVP. Another very good performance, scored another very good goal tonight and look at the impact he’s had on our team. He’s a fantastic player and we’re happy to have him starting next year from the beginning [of the season].

CHICAGO FIRE FORWARD MIKE MAGEE

On the match:
I wish I knew [what went wrong in the match]. First and foremost I think New York was great. I think anytime you got Tim Cahill and [Thierry] Henry on your team and those guys are in the form that they were in tonight they’re going to be hard to beat. I definitely think we might have lain down a little bit.

On reflecting on his season:
This is going to hurt for a while. It’s cool to score goals and all but you play the game to lift the trophy and to kind of come that close after so much work just to get ourselves back in a spot to have a chance at making the playoffs – to be honest, it’s heartbreaking.

On Thierry Henry:
He’s the best. He’s probably the best player in the league and one of the classiest guys I’ve met. I got a chance to hang with him a little bit in Kansas City this year and I have nothing but respect for him. I just told him I wish him luck and that’s all.

27 October 6:04 am

Sunday's regular season finale at Red Bull New York will be shown in A LOT of countries around the world... Check out the list below and for our international fans, check your local television listings.

Kickoff is 4:00pm CT in the United States.

Albavision (Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panamá)

Al Jazeera (Algeria, Bahrain, Chad, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen)

Antel (Uruguay - highlights only)

Arena Sport (Former Yugoslavia - except Slovenia)

Astro Supersport (Malaysia, Brunei)

beIN Sports (Indonesia, Vietnam, Japan)

Benfica TV (Portugal, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique)

BT Sports (United Kigdom)

C More (Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden)

Canal + (France)

CYTA (Cyprus)

DirecTV (Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela plus the following territories in and around the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bonaire, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominica, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadaloupe, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Eustatius, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Martin, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago and Turks and Caicos.)

GSP TV (Romania)

Ma Chaine Sport (Sub-Saharan Africa, Israel)

One (Israel)

Orange (Poland)

Perform (WorldWide)

PPTV (China)

Prisa TV (Spain)

Rightster (Clips WorldWide - highlights only)

SCTV/VCTV (Vietnam)

Setanta Africa (Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Comoros Islands, Congo Brazzaville, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Kenya, Lesotho,  Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, South Africa, St. Helena, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Zanzibar, Zimbabwe)

Skynet (Myanmar)

Šport TV (Slovenia)

Sportdigital.tv (Germany, Austria)

Sport Klub (Hungary)

Sportradar (Worldwide excluding USA, Canada, Mexico, MENA & Japan)

SportsMax (Aruba, Bermuda, The Bahamas, The Cayman Islands, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Curacao, The Leeward Islands (including Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts/Nevis, Montserrat and the British Virgin Islands), The Windward Islands (including St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Dominica and Grenada), Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and Turks & Caicos)

Super Sport (South Africa)

Ten Sports (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka)

25 October 11:00 am

Patrick Nyarko did a pretty sweet twitter takeover yesterday... Here are some of the highlights!




















25 October 8:09 am

With three wins on the bounce, the Fire are on the brink of a playoff spot with only one game to go. The Men in Red could be in before the start of play on Sunday but the earliest they’ll know is a little over an hour from kickoff of their match vs. New York Red Bulls (LIVE 3:30pm CT on My50/Time Warner Sports WI; 4pm on UniMas).

Still, there is plenty to play for, including a possible third place finish thus avoiding the play-in game. For New York no incentive is bigger than knowing a win against the Fire will guarantee the team’s first ever trophy. Here are some things to look out for from a tactical perspective.

Patrick Nyarko and Jalil Anibaba vs New York’s left back – taking advantage of a Red Bulls weak spot

Left back has been a problem position for the Red Bulls this season and with the two natural left backs nursing injuries, the Red Bulls may have to resort to playing right-back Brandon Barklage out of position as cover. Red Bulls coach Mike Petke admitted that he is wary of Patrick Nyarko and hinted that it could be Barklage that gets the start due to his strong 1v1 defending.

WATCH: Segares, Nyarko preview NYRB

 

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With that in mind, I feel the Fire coaching staff will be encouraging Nyarko to get the ball and take the left back on as much as possible. Left midfielder Johnny Steele is not the best at tracking back and helping in the defensive third and this could also allow Jalil Anibaba to get forward and support Nyarko on the Fire’s right.

Anibaba’s crossing ability has improved dramatically this year and regardless of who New York starts on the left, I expect the majority of the Fire’s attacks to come down that side.

Logan Pause vs Alex – who will partner Rios in the middle?

The toughest decision for the Fire’s coaching staff this week is who will replace the suspended Jeff Larentowicz in the center of the midfield alongside Arevalo Rios. One of Logan Pause, Alex or Daniel Paladini will be half of the tandem that will have to compete against one of the strongest midfield pairings in MLS: Dax McCarty and Tim Cahill.

On the one hand, the Fire know that the Red Bulls will be playing for the win and the Supporters Shield crown that comes with the points. On the other, the Fire will also be going for the win, knowing what they will have to do to finish in either fifth, fourth or even third.

With this in mind, Alex would be a more logical pick to start alongside Rios due to his attacking creativity and willingness to get forward and support the strikers. To those who argue that starting Alex over Logan would mean the team loses some defensive clout, coach Frank Klopas would argue that Alex’s defensive play has been excellent this season.

Tactically, I think starting Logan Pause would be the wiser choice, especially when you take into account the fluidity of the New York attack. The center midfielders and strikers for the Red Bulls are never static, with players like Henry often drifting wide and Cahill moving forward to play as the target striker.

With Pause alongside Rios, the Fire would form a very solid block of four, similar to the formation that the Republic of Ireland played under Giovanni Trapattoni. This formation would make the Fire very difficult to break down but would put a lot more emphasis on the wide players to create. This coaching decision has the potential to have huge impact on the match.

Shutting down Fabian Espindola – a player easily lost in the shadows of Henry and Cahill

In the Red Bulls last home match against New England, Mike Petke started with Henry and Fabian Espindola up front and in the first half in particular, Espindola was unstoppable. The New England defense could not keep up with the Argentine striker, who dropped deep and wide in search of the ball, dragging defenders out of position along the way.

Espindola is a player that any coach would love to have due to his tireless work rate. He also hounds opposition defenders when they are in possession, always looking to force a turnover or mistake and does not give up possession easily.

His low center of gravity can be very difficult for defenders to contain and he will certainly pose a challenge for the Fire’s backline on Sunday afternoon. The Fire defenders must not allow Espindola to get behind the backline.

Individually the defenders must not allow him to drag them out of position and create space for players like Cahill and McCarty to move into.

Prediction: With both teams knowing a win would be massively rewarding, I expect an end to end thriller, especially if there is an early goal. 2-2 with goals from Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko.

24 October 8:31 am

The Chicago Fire Twitter Takeover is back Thursday with Fire midfielder Patrick Nyarko taking the controls from 1:30-2:15pm CT!

Get Pat's take on how he's feeling heading into the all-important season finale at New York on Sunday, how the team has progressed to this point over the course of the season or just where the best spot to get Peanut Butter Soup is in Chicago...

Hit him up @ChicagoFire on Twitter at 1:30pm or tweet your questions to him now using hashtag #AskPat.