Blog

Chicago Fire

20 June 10:39 am

Earlier Thursday morning I was once again invited back to U.S. Soccer Federation headquarters in downtown Chicago to witness the semifinal round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup coin flips.

Let me be honest, unlike the previous three rounds, Thursday's process was the simplest I've witnessed.

That's because even before showing up at Soccer House on Thursday morning, U.S. Soccer had already confirmed what the potential semifinal pairings would be earlier this week based on geography.

Combine that with all eight quarterfinal teams applying to host the semifinals, literally all that was needed was to flip the famous bicentennial silver dollar twice.

Still, Competition Secretary Paul Marstaller kept things official, handing out the same formatted paper which clearly listed the matchups and assigned heads and tails.

That sheet looked like this:

Heads Tails
D.C. United/New England Revolution Chicago Fire/Orlando City*
Real Salt Lake/Carolina RailHawks* Portland Timbers/FC Dallas

If I can be bold enough to say, every time the Fire have come up in a coin flip, I honestly get this strange excitement in my stomach. The feeling of a simple coin going a long way to deciding your team's tournament fate is a thrilling, if not brief emotion.

TICKETS: Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City Quarterfinal on June 26

Luckily for the Fire, the first coin flip landed tails, meaning the winner of next Wednesday's game vs. Orlando City will host the winnder of D.C. United/New England on August 7. This is the third straight flip the Fire have won after losing the initial third round flip to the Charlotte Eagles.

In the second flip, the coin came up heads, meaning the winner of Real Salt Lake/Carolina RailHawks will host the winner of Portland/FC Dallas. The flip was the fourth consecutive win for RSL in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup.

And that was it.

Only one coin flip remains and that's for the final which will be played in early October. I'm told that will go down at some point in July.

All intentions to host the final were due along with intentions for the semifinal on Wednesday, though U.S. Soccer will likely not make that list public until the final coin flips occur.

I can confirm the Chicago Fire have applied to host the 2013 U.S. Open Cup final.

Earlier 2013 Open Cup Coin Flips:

- Quarterfinals
- Fourth Round
- Third Round

19 June 11:24 pm
Quote Sheet
Chicago Fire 2 – 1 Colorado Rapids
Toyota Park – June 19, 2013
 
Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire Head Coach
 
Overall thoughts on the win
 
“It’s a team effort. It’s always about the team and I think it was an important game for us in this homestand and we needed to get the three points and we found a way, again, to come back from behind. I’m just proud of the guys because I think we did create, even in the second half, good chances but also they had good looks. And that’s the game. Sometimes things have to go your way. We put the second goal [in], we created some more chances so we could get a little more comfortable lead, but in the end we suffered a little bit but the guys stuck together, they played well, and it was a great three points for us at home.”
 
On Mike Magee’s injury
 
“I think he’s a little bit sore we’ll see better tomorrow. I think he’s got ice on it, hopefully it’s not that bad but three games in seven days, we have to see how guys feel tomorrow and then make some decisions. We have players on the team that we can count on and that’s going to be the case throughout the season.”
 
On if Magee’s injury is a concern
 
“No, I think it’s not that bad but you never know. Tomorrow we will have a better idea. He’s got an ice pack right now. I felt that after that shot, he wasn’t one-hundred-percent and its good that we were able to take him out.”
 
On Austin Berry’s performance today
 
“I think it was a whole team effort. I think Austin is always a guy that is dangerous in the box and we knew that he’s very good in the air. He’s a competitor. The kid leaves everything on the field. He’s played some great matches. I think that every game he goes in and competes and leaves everything for the team on the field and that’s all you can ask for. Fantastic outing today again by him and by the whole.”
 
On if he was worried about Austin Berry after his early mistake to give up the goal
 
“No, not at all because I know him, how he is. I know him very well and I think that’s part of the game. Things happen and you have to move on. You can’t look back and as a team we always look forward and you saw his response. You see how the guy’s mentality is very strong and I think that that’s part of the game, it’s going to happen and you have to move on and we did and I think he responded well and the team responded well. But he’s got a pretty strong mentality and those things don’t faze him. Other guys maybe it’s different but with him I knew there was no issue.”
 
On the team conceding goals in the air recently
 
“I think we got to keep working on our box defending. This is something we have talked about. Baky [Soumare] is someone that’s not new into the group and we have been working on that and that’s crucial…our ability to mark in the box. But that’s not the kind of goal we gave up tonight. But I thought the back line was solid and Sean [Johnson]did a very good job coming out. Inside the box he was the man. He came out, he stopped a lot of plays in the air, but I think as a whole, that’s a crucial part of the game because where are the goals scored from? Inside the box. So our ability to get tight on the wide players so they don’t have easy service and then our ability in the box to defend is something that we work on constantly during the week but I didn’t feel there was an issue tonight. The guys did well. I think Sean [Johnson] was huge for us coming out with his sight and ability to pick up those balls. It was great.”
 
On how Dilly Duka is coming along
 
“We knew Dilly [Duka] and his ability. He’s only going to get better. He had another fantastic game tonight. He made the PK, he was very dangerous, and he’s a young player with a lot of ability. He just keeps getting better and stronger with every match.”
 
On what will be similar and different against Columbus this weekend
 
“We just got to assess where the team is. I think we have depth in the team and there’s opportunities when we play a lot of matches to count on the team as a whole. So we will see where the guys are tomorrow and we will adjust knowing that we have 3 games in 7 days but we will have a better picture of where guys are tomorrow. Like I said, we got to rely on the team and these are the times where you do that. I have confidence in the whole group.”
 
Austin Berry, Chicago Fire defender
 
On going down early in games
 
“A lot of it is our own fault, obviously tonight it was my fault.  There aren’t a lot of teams breaking us down and beating us, so if we shore things up from our end that should eliminate the early goals.”
 
On his mistake that led to the first goal
 
“Basically, I passed the ball to him.  I couldn’t have helped him out anymore. I was too lazy on the ball.  I didn’t play quickly enough and he caught me.”
 
On scoring after a mistake which lead to a Colorado goal
 
“I think this is the third time since last year that I’ve made a mistake, then come back to score a goal.”
 
On the unbeaten streak
 
“It feels good. Even early in the season we kept a good mindset.  We were still focused on the goals at hand and now we’re starting to score some goals and get the victories.  It feels good to be rewarded for all our hard work.”
 
On pattern of going down early, like last season
 
“It’s great that we can get good results to make up for our mistakes.  We have to remember not to get down on ourselves, but like we keep saying, we can’t always rely on coming back; sometimes we aren’t going to be able to put goals in the net.  Luckily tonight we were able to get that goal back in the first half, I think that was key to the victory.”
 
Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire midfielder
 
On giving up the early goal
 
“We need to have great concentration coming out of the gates.  I can’t wrap my mind around it happening today because I thought we were playing really well – we were creating chances and getting possession in the midfield.  The goal was just a bad mistake, but it happens.  But it let you see how strong the kid is, he came back and scored a goal and we won the game.  Giving up the early goals has got to stop.  Personally, I think it was better today because we had control of the game.”
 
On the game plan in the second half
 
“I think in the first half we handled ourselves pretty well.  It wasn’t the perfect game, but I think we were on top.  This was one of our better games all year putting the first and second halves together.  Last game we played better in the second half, but not so much in the first half.  This game we didn’t let them play to their strengths.  We dominated them, not entirely, just enough to win.”
 
Mike Magee, Chicago Fire forward
 
On the five goals in five games streak
 
“If I start talking about that it won’t be six in six, so no comment.”
 
On the PK
 
“The only thing you need to know about that goal is Dilly [Duka].  He did an incredible job to beat his guy.  He was going one on one with Marvell Wynne, which is a pretty daunting task – he just went at him.  The finish was pretty simple.”
 
On his leadership on the field
 
“The intention is to help the team win.  Tonight wasn’t even my best game.  I thought Jeff Larentowicz was fantastic, I thought Patrick Nyarko was fantastic and my only job tonight was to tap in a penalty kick so not much credit should go to me.”
 
Oscar Pareja, Colorado Rapids Head Coach
 
On what he saw tonight
 
“Our team had a very good start to the match.  We created some chances and I think we controlled the game.  The plan we designed with the boys at the beginning of the game went very well.  Unfortunately we gave up one play in the first half, where Magee took the penalty kick and scored.  Second half I thought it was tight; Chicago pushed and found an early goal in the second half off a set piece.  We reacted and we had chances to equalize but at that point, I thought the game was back and forth.  Chicago waited for us and they didn’t move their line up from the back.  Also, we tried to have the initiate to create chances and they tried to play on the counter.  Again, it could have gone both ways.  Unfortunately for us, it went to them.”
 
On feeling like they could at least had a point tonight
 
“You always think that you can get more.  At this point we have learned our lessons and we cannot keep saying we deserve more.  We just need to make it happen on the field.  We have to get the points and the points sometimes you get the points by doing the small things all the time.  I thought today we mostly were good and we had initiative but we still made some mistakes and it cost us.”
 
On the second game in a row where the defense allowed two goals
 
“We’re concerned about it.  It’s just something we were showing a lot of improvement and now in the last three we have let in goals.  That’s our main concern now.  I think it’s a bunch of little things.  We can’t point out just one, because when you attack and you defend it’s a collective effort.  We attack as a unit, we defend as a unit.  When we correct the defensive mistakes we have to see the whole team.”
 
On Chicago’s second goal and if it was offside
 
“No, I didn’t see it.  I didn’t have replay where I was.  Unfortunately I couldn’t be on the line.  I would have to see it again.  It looks to me he was off, but I have to see it and judge well.  At that point, I thought the assistant referee had him and I hope it’s not the case.”
 
On Martin Rivero’s injury
 
“He felt some tightness in his quad.  He’s a bit confused now-he’s not sure if it’s a knock there or a pull in his muscle.  We’ll be waiting for the doctors.”
 
On getting ready for Portland
 
“It’s a mental stage for us.  We had a good stretch of games where we were getting points and winning, now we had some games where we got no points.  So it’s a mental game now.  We have to prepare our team mentally and we will jump over this hurdle that we have.”
 
Deshorn Brown, Colorado Rapids Forward
 
On the match
 
“I think it was just a tough loss tonight.  We go out there and get the first goal and we thought we had the game in hand.  The team turned around and started to harm us.  We had some chances that we should have put away.  We didn’t make the chances and that turned around and hurt us.”
 
On his goal
 
“I saw the defender play back to his other defender.  I just read the play and kept going, hoping he would make a mistake, and he did.  Just got into an one-on-one with the goalkeeper and put it into the back of the net.”
 
On scoring 3 goals and four assists in his rookie season
 
“I think I’m doing pretty good and trying to get used to the league more and understand how to play a lot better so I will keep pushing myself.  Hopefully as time goes on, we progress and get ready for Portland on Sunday.”
 
On what the team needs to do to prepare for Portland
 
“We need to get some rest, and focus on the mistakes we made in this game and correct them.  Make sure we go to Portland, and switch on, do the right thing and get three points and go home happy.”
19 June 12:17 pm

The Chicago Fire's Chris Rolfe, Logan Pause and Frank Klopas took part in U.S. Soccer's Centennial celebration and World Cup qualifying viewing party Tuesday night at Chicago's Grant Park.

Check out photos from the event below:

 

18 June 12:44 pm

After a rousing comeback against Portland last time out in the league, the Fire start a busy period Wednesday night against a tricky Colorado Rapids team (LIVE 7pm CT on My50) who just their six-game unbeaten streak snapped at the weekend by San Jose Earthquakes. Here are some things to look out for from a tactical perspective:

Exposing the Rapids center backs: targeting Drew Moor and Marvell Wynne

Colorado's usual starting pair at the center of the defense is Shane O'Neill and Drew Moor but with the Irish-born youngster in Turkey with the US U-20 team, right back Marvell Wynne has slotted into the middle.

FIRE vs. RAPIDS: Tickets Still Available

Against San Jose last week, this pairing had a lot of trouble, especially when the Quakes attacking players separated and isolated the center backs.

The movement of Rolfe and Magee, both very mobile strikers, could open up the Colorado defense. If the Fire’s attacking pair can draw Moor/Wynne out, it can lead to space being created behind them, something San Jose did well last weekend.

Keeping an eye on Deshorn Brown - the rookie has 4 assists this season

Similar to my thoughts a few weeks ago about D.C. rookie Kyle Porter, Deshorn Brown has caught my eye for Colorado this season.

Playing on the left of a front three he’s dangerous and a good supplier of the ball for striker Edson Buddle. Much of Colorado's chances in the past few matches have come from Brown’s side.

Larentowicz, Duka Preview Colorado

The Rapids will be without Atiba Harris after his red against San Jose last week which puts even more emphasis on Brown to step up in the Kittitian’s absence.

Right-sided players Jalil Anibaba and Patrick Nyarko will need to be very wary of the rookie on Wednesday night.

Fire squad rotation - my case in for it

The Men in Red have a tough stretch of 4 games in 11 days and it would be very demanding on the players to try and stick with the same starting XI for all four because of a risk of burnout.

A more likely approach would be one of steady and not drastic rotation meaning making a few changes each match and not starting a completely different team. This is of course assuming the team doesn't pick up any injuries or suspensions during this stretch.

READ: Nyarko says next eight day stretch is "crunch time"

Giving a few players a break Wednesday night with one eye on the tough away Eastern Conference match against Columbus on Saturday might be a worthwhile policy for head coach Frank Klopas.

Fire squad rotation - my case against

Something fans have criticized coach Klopas for is sticking to a regular starting XI and not making too many changes from game to game.

That being said, the team is currently unbeaten in four games and if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

The last 20 minutes against Portland last weekend was the team’s best spell all season and if they can continue that form the next few weeks could see us in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals and moving closer to the MLS Cup playoff positions in the East.

With the back line finally stable and the Mike Magee/Chris Rolfe partnership starting to really gel, there is a strong case for coach Klopas to stick with the same XI during this run of games.

Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @Irish_Steve.

18 June 8:57 am

It's simple really: #MakeMagee an #MLSAllStar.

Last year we here at Always on the Inside put our eggs in one basket when it came to #MLSAllStar voting by getting behind talisman winger Patrick Nyarko.

Stealing the Chicago White Sox idea of #TakeJake, (a ploy to get pitcher Jake Peavy to Major League Baseball's All-Star Game), we decided to push the #PickPat hashtag on Twitter. Along with the social calls to action, we got CSN Chicago's Dave Kaplan in on the action, with him displaying this sign on Chicago Tribune Live.  

In addition, I wrote open letters to All-Star head coach Ben Olsen and MLS Commissioner Don Garber appealing for them to #PickPat.

While there was a lot of nice buzz created, in the end, Pat wasn't chosen (though I still think he should have been).

Fast-forward to today when we find out that Mike Magee is second in fan voting among MLS midfielders (even though he's a forward in Chicago) to go to this year's All-Star Game vs. AS Roma at Kansas City's Sporting Park.

Though we came up short last year, I think its time we bring the hashtags back out and #MakeMagee an #MLSAllStar for the first time in his career...

His credentials...

- A career high of eight MLS goals in 12 games played this season (currently third most in MLS and definitely most for a "midfielder").

- 10 goals in 14 competitive matches in 2013.

- As of Tuesday, he's never not scored in a match for the Fire, tallying four in as many games since joining the Men in Red last month. 

- A true leader on the field and player that has come into his own over his 11-year MLS career.

- While the MLS All-Star Game is a reward for achievement during the first half of the season, we'd be remisce if we didn't mention that Mike Magee has won two MLS Cups and two Supporters Shields over the course of his 11-year MLS career. 

- #MikeMageeFacts can truly go national when he's included among the league's best players.

Vote for Mike, Patrick Nyarko, Jeff Larentowicz, Sean Johnson, Austin Berry, Jalil Anibaba and Chris Rolfe by clicking here or by texting the player's last name to 22442 through July 2 at 2pm CT.

17 June 4:33 pm

The Chicago Fire U16 and U18 Academy sides as well as the U18 Indiana Fire Academy learned their groups for next week’s U.S. Soccer Federation Development Academy National Playoffs set to be held in Dallas, Texas earlier Monday. 

UPDATE! U.S. Soccer then realized they had made a mistake with the drawings and held a re-draw for both age groups. Below are the updated groupings for the Chicago Fire U16, U18 and Indiana Fire Academy U18 side...

- Chicago Fire U18s are in Group 1 with Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Houston Dynamo and PA Classics
- Indiana Fire Academy U18s are in Group 7 with Baltimore Bays Chelsea, Chivas USA and De Anza Force (CA)
- Chicago Fire U16s are in Group 1 with De Anza Force (CA), Georgia United and Arsenal FC (CA)

With the USSFDA now into the fourth season of their current playoff format, the Fire Academy is one of just four clubs (out of 80) to see both U16 and U18 sides qualify for the National Playoffs every year.

They’re joined by FC Dallas, CASL (NC) and Concorde Fire (GA) as the four clubs with the current distinction.

The USSFDA National Playoffs feature eight groups of four teams in a round-robin format with the winners of each group advancing to the July’s national finals in Houston, Texas.

Earlier Draw, now null and void:

The Chicago Fire U18 side has been paired in Group 4 with Real Salt Lake (AZ), Dallas Texans and Weston FC (FL) while the Indiana Fire U18s join Vancouver Whitecaps, Pateadores (CA) and Kendall SC (FL) in Group 1.

The Chicago Fire U16s were drawn into Group 3 with PDA (NJ), Colorado Rapids and Revolution Empire (NY).

17 June 9:47 am

In what was widely considered one of the best results of 2012, the Chicago Fire earned a 3-1 victory over the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Park on June 17, 2012.

Patrick Nyarko got the scoring going early with a powering fourth minute header which left Red Bull defender Roy Miller on the ground in its wake. 

The shortest man in the box would equalize just after halftime as Mehdi Ballouchy picked out Dax McCarthy at the back post to level things at 1-1 in the 55th minute. 

The Fire should have gone back ahead nine minutes later. Making his home re-debut, Chris Rolfe slipped Dominic Oduro through the Red Bull back line and the Ghanaian hit a desperate sliding effor that Ryan Meara got a piece of but would trickle all the way over the line.

Despite the whole ball crossing the line, former Fire defender Wilman Conde slid to scoop it out of the net and referee Baldomero Toledo relied on his linesman who waved off the goal, sending Fire players into a bit of fury.

The Fire would rightfully go ahead four minutes later as Gonzalo Segares was fed into the box on the left and saw his first effort saved by Meara before emphatically slamming home the rebound, charging the home crowd up in the 68th minute.

Rolfe would ice the game 13 minutes later when a great piece of individual skill from Nyarko down the right eventually found the veteran Fire striker at the back post for a tap-in, giving the Fire a 3-1 win on Father's Day.

15 June 9:28 am

In the Fire's Reserves first foray into the MLS/USL Pro partnership, the team dropped a 2-1 decision away to the Charlotte Eagles at Queens Sports Complex Friday night.

Led by Fire assistant coach Leo Percovich, the team started eight first team players and three from the club's Development Academy sides, two of which (Jake Taylor and James Myall) slotted in as center backs.

The Fire Reserves took the lead just before halftime. In a play quite similar to Patrick Nyarko's winner in Thursday's Open Cup match vs. Columbus, Michael Videira's cross from the right found Quincy Amarikwa at the back post where he headed past Eric Reed to make it 1-0 in the 42nd minute.

Charlotte responded with a number of chances in the second half outshooting the Fire Reserves 12-0, forcing Paolo Tornaghi into eight second half saves. . They would find their two goals in the span of five minutes as Christian Ramirez equalized in the 70th before Ben Newnam found the winner in the 75th.

Two more Fire Academy products Jeff Farina and Hayden Cochrane made cameo second half appearances, meaning the maximum five Academy players were used in the game. The Fire Reserves fall to 1-4 on the 2013 campaign and will welcome the Eagles to Toyota Park on Saturday, June 29 at 7:30pm (Live webcast on Chicago-Fire.com).

For more, visit the match report on CharlotteEagles.com.

Box Score

Chicago Fire - Paolo Tornaghi; Wells Thompson, James Myall*, Jake Taylor*, Hunter Jumper, Brendan King (Jeff Farina 76'), Mike Videira, Grant Lillard*, Yazid Atouba (Hayden Cochrane 74'); Corben Bone, Quincy Amarikwa

Charlotte Eagles - Eric Reed, Fejiro Okiomah, Matt Gold, Ben Newnam, Shaun Francis (Nick Courtney 46'); Stephen Okai, Sam Asante, Jorge Herrera, Nate Thornton (Will Prado 88'), Juan Guzman (Drew Yates 34'); Christian Ramirez (Tommy Smith 76')

Scoring Summary
CHI - Quincy Amarikwa (Michael Videira) 42'
CHA - Christian Ramirez (Sam Asante) 70'
CHA - Ben Newnam (unassisted) 75'

Misconduct Summary
CHI - Jake Taylor (caution; Foul) 12'
CHI - Wells Thompson (caution; Foul) 82'
 

Statistics           CHI          CHA
Shots:                    4             15
Saves:                  10             3
Corners:                4              4
Fouls:                   16            10    
Offsides:               1               2

Referee: Dustin Thorne; Assistant Referees: Ross Cox, Gustavo Solorio; Fourth Official: Brandon Cline

12 June 8:59 am

According to the TrueCar Player Registry, Amos Magee played only eight competitives games, three goals and 225 minutes as an A-League "call-up" player for the Men in Red in 2001 and 2002.

In fact, as of now, he has a better strike rate than man of the hour and namesake Mike Magee (three goals in 267 minutes).

Despite his short time with the Fire, the revered lower-league striker wrote a legend of his own in Chicago with one very memorable extra time goal in the 2001 U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal victory over the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Wheaton College.

In the first of our Fire "Unsung Heroes" series, we speak to Amos "Chesty" Magee about the cult following he earned from his short time with the Fire.