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Chicago Fire

03 July 9:24 am

Happy Tuesday Matchday! The Chicago Fire travel to Houston for their first-ever match at BBVA Compass Stadium tonight at 7:30pm CT LIVE on NBC 5.2 (Channel Finder) and 97.5FM ESPN Deportes Radio.  

Here are five things to know heading into tonight’s Fourth of July-eve match…

1) FOUR GAME WINNING STREAKS…  With a victory tonight in Houston, the Fire would achieve the club’s first four-game MLS regular season winning streak since June and July 2005 when the team took down Real Salt Lake (3-1), D.C. United (4-3), Chivas USA (1-0) and New England (1-0). 

 

PREVIEW: Fire at Dynamo

 
It’s been seven years since it’s happened and even then two of the opponents were expansion teams with only the win against Chivas coming on the road. IF the Frank Klopas’ side is victorious tonight, this streak will be more impressive as it will have come against two teams higher in the standings (New York, Sporting KC) with two matches in difficult environments (Sporting KC and Houston).
 
IF the Fire win tonight, it would mark just the seventh time in 15 years that the team has strung together a four-game winning streak. It happened twice in 1998, once in 2000, twice again in 2001 and not again since 2005. A win tonight would not only be good from an historic perspective but would also move the side into third place in the Eastern Conference.
 
2) WHAT A WIN TONIGHT WOULD MEAN… Aside from equaling a little bit of history, a win tonight would also equal the team’s total victories (nine) achieved over the course of 34 games during each of the past two seasons. 
 
3) FIRST TIME IN A NEW STADIUM… Thankfully and for what seems like the first time in a while, the Fire aren’t the team having to open a brand new MLS stadium. Tonight will however mark the team’s first visit to BBVA Compass Stadium where the Dynamo are unbeaten (4-0-2) since opening their new downtown facility with a 1-0 victory over D.C. United on May 12. 
 
But let’s keep this about the Fire, who are 9-15-7 all-time in their first match at an MLS stadium. The last time the team won in this instance was a 1-0 victory against San Jose in a one-off match for attendance purposes at McAfee Coliseum on April 12, 2008. In a more permanent venue, the last time the Fire won in this instance came with another 1-0 victory in the Dynamo’s first home, Robertson Stadium on May 20, 2006. 
 
4) 50th CONSECUTIVE… Last season Fire forward Dominic Oduro scored his team-leading 12th goal in his first return to Houston since being traded to the Dynamo by the Fire following the first week of the MLS campaign. IF he steps on the field in his second return to Houston tonight, he’ll make his 50th consecutive appearance for the Fire. The current Fire “iron man” has appeared in every regular season match since joining the team last March, providing 17 goals and four assists. 
 
Who’s next closest to Dom in consecutive appearances? Fellow Ghanaian Patrick Nyarko who is set to make his 40th straight appearance tonight.
 
5) 25 GOALS FOR MARCO… Marco Pappa has sort of quietly wrote his name into the Fire history books over through the first half of the season. Since the start of the season, the Guatemalan international has moved from ninth on the club’s all-time MLS goal scoring list all the way to fifth with his game-winner Friday night. his  and with one more goal will tie inaugural Ring of Fire inductee Piotr Nowak for fourth on the list at 26. Two more goals will make Pappa the all-time leading scorer among Fire midfielders.  
 
02 July 4:07 pm

I remember my 15th birthday like it was yesterday. I woke up early and went to the DMV with my mom to secure my Learner’s Permit – gaining the ability to drive (with supervision) was a true right of passage growing up just outside of the Motor City. 

Coming up later this year, October 8 to be exact, the Chicago Fire officially turn 15 years old and to celebrate our Quinceñara, we’ll be counting down the 15 most memorable matches, goals and top players in Fire history, as part of our #Fire15 series.


We started last Friday by posting this video counting down Games #13-15 on our list. We’ll have a video each week in the above categories as we lead up to our 15th Anniversary celebration to be held Wednesday, October 3 against the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park. 

#Fire15: Memorable Matches 13-15

#15  -  Chicago Fire 2, New York Red Bulls 0 - June 25, 2006   MLS Regular Season - Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL
 
In the Grand Opening match of Toyota Park, a capacity of 20,133 watched their Chicago Fire take on the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer’s newest soccer-specific venue.
The players responded to the enthusiastic crowd and captain Chris Armas put the Fire ahead in the 12th minute by jumping on a bouncing ball at the top of the Red Bull box. New York ‘keeper Tony Meola got a hand on the shot, but it wasn’t enough as the ball slowly rolled past the goal line. Later, 
Brazilian Fire midfielder Thiago capped off the day by making a diagonal run into the Red Bull box and beating the goalkeeper with a low, powerful shot (69’) to ice the match at 2-0.
 
#14  -  Chicago Fire 4, Dallas Burn 3 - May 24, 2000  -  MLS Regular Season -  Soldier Field, Chicago, IL
 
Before any of the scoring occurred in this match, Fire defender and current TV Analyst Evan Whitfield was ejected from the match in the 15th minute. With the man advantage, Dallas would open the scoring with a 37th minute goal from Jorge Rodriguez but the Fire would pull level when the Burn’s Richard Farrer redirected his clearing header into to his own net just before the half. The Burn pulled back ahead in the second half, adding two more goals from Jason Kreis (57’) and Chad Deering (63’). 
 
Down 3-1, the Fire looked like they were heading for an inevitable loss at home. Ante Razov, however, began the counter crusade with a goal in the 79th minute. Entering pandemonium, Dema Kovalenko tied the affair with one minute left in the match. The Fire were not content with a draw and kept pushing up the field, receiving a glorious stoppage time winner from Ante Razov (91+’) to close the book on one of the best comebacks in club history.
 
#13  - Chicago Fire 1, LA Galaxy 0  October 21, 2007  -  MLS Regular Season -  Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL
 
After a slow start to the 2007 campaign which resulted in the firing of head coach Dave Sarachan midseason, the Fire rebounded under Juan Carlos Osorio to make a late playoff push. As a result of their strong form, the team needed just a draw in this match on the final day of the regular season and would control the lion’s share of this meeting having outshot the Galaxy 10-1 by the end of the match. 
 
Playing in front of a sellout crowd of 21,374, the Fire saw great chances from Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Chad Barrett and Wilman Conde go begging. Just as it looked like the team would back-in to the playoffs with a 0-0 draw, then-rookie forward Calen Carr popped up the ball over the Galaxy’s back line to an unmarked John Thorrington. The former Manchester United midfielder chested down the bouncing ball and with one touch chipped the LA ‘keeper Joe Cannon to give the Fire a dramatic win in the 93rd minute.

 

 

 

29 June 8:29 am

1) FIRE LOVE NBC SPORTS… If you didn’t already know, tonight’s match can be seen LIVE on NBC Sports Network and that’s a good thing for the Fire. The side has won both previous matches on the national sports network earlier this season (3-2 at Toronto April 21; 3-1 vs. New York June 17) and had three different players score in both matches. Will the good ride on NBC Sports continue tonight?

2) GRAZZINI OPTION PICKED UP, ALEX ELIGIBLE FOR DEBUT… It was announced Thursday that Sebastian Grazzini’s option to stay with the Fire has been picked up by the club but the Argentine midfielder wouldn’t be in the 18 because of a lack of training this week. That all coincides quite well with Brazilian attacker Alex, who trained with the side the past three weeks, now being eligible for the team upon the opening this week of the summer transfer window.
 
3) WHETHER OR NOT WE SEE HIM START… It’s probably not likely that Alex will slot directly into the starting lineup to replace Grazzini in his debut. The most likely to move into the attacking hole would be Chris Rolfe, who has replaced Grazzini in the position in each of the past two matches. The returning veteran looked best there on June 17 against New York when he scored the icing goal and setup what should have been a Dominic Oduro goal from the spot.
 
Other options include Rafael Robayo, who played in the spot on May 26 in Columbus and Daniel Paladini who has filled in previously when Grazzini was injured.
 
4) SEGARES RED CARD… Fire defender Gonzalo Segares will miss Friday night’s match after receiving a straight red card for a mis-timed challenge on Tony Tchani in Saturdays 2-1 victory over Columbus. The third red card of the Costa Rican international’s MLS career, the Fire have actually faced Kansas City before when Segares was suspended from an ejection in the previous match. The team earned  a 2-0 win over the Kansas Wizards on August 25, 2007 after Sega was ejected in the 66th minute of a 3-2 loss (also against Kansas City) three days earlier…
 
5) THE LEFT (and right) BACK QUESTION…  Segares last missed a match to suspension (yellow card accumulation) on September 10 last season, falling 2-0 at San Jose at the small pitch at Buck Shaw Stadium. In that match, first-choice right back Dan Gargan played on the left while midfielder Logan Pause replaced him on the right. That was the same shift Frank Klopas made to the Fire back line after Segares’ sending off Saturday but is it good for 90 minutes?
 
Fire rookie Hunter Jumper is a natural left back but is he ready for his first start? If not, Gargan likely moves back to the left for this one. 
 
If that’s the case, who does Klopas use on the right? In the 2-0 loss at Colorado, we saw earlier this year how much not having Pause in midfield to break up attacks hurt the team. With Arne Friedrich back, is it prudent to instead move Jalil Anibaba back out to the right and leave the captain in the middle of the park? Is Friedrich good to go 90 minutes?
 
The decisions across the back will be the most interesting to come out tonight…
 
PREVIEW: Chicago Fire at Sporting KC
28 June 11:04 am

Germans and baseball? In this edition of Touchline TV, Brendan Hannan talks to Arne Friedrich prior to his first pitch at the Cubs game on Tuesday, with Arne questioning why there isn't a batter at the plate for his ceremonial throw.

The TLTV Crew then follows the big German as well as teammates Dominic Oduro and Dan Gargan for the practicing and eventual traditional singing of "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" during the seventh inning stretch at Wrigley. 

27 June 4:49 pm

Daniel Paladini and defender Hunter Jumper took time out last week to answer questions for the Chicago Fire Kids Club newsletter, powered by American Family Insurance.

Check out their interesting answers to Kids Club member questions below and be sure to sign your young Fire fan up for the Kids Club for awesome giveaways at home matches, exclusive player autograph sessions and much more! Best part is it's FREE! Register here.

27 June 9:15 am

U-16s Open with 4-2 Win Over Clearwater

Tuesday was the Chicago Fire Academy’s busiest day at the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs in Frisco, Texas as both the U-16 and U-18 sides were in action and came away victorious to keep hopes of advancement to next month’s national finals alive.
 
In the mid-afternoon 100+ Texas heat, the U-16 Academy opened their playoff run with a 4-2 victory over Clearwater Chargers (FL) in a match that saw the two sides trade the first four goals back and forth. 
 
Dealing with the weather conditions, the Fire went ahead 1-0 when Mississippi Fire Juniors product Marcus Epps fed Jeff Farina through in the 12th minute. Seven minutes later Clearwater would respond of what was described by Fire Academy Director Larry Sunderland as “a long bomb”.
 
The Fire would get a bomb of their own from Epps on a 25-yard effort that screamed inside the bottom right corner in the 34th but Clearwater would again respond two minutes later to take things to 2-2.
 
“The heat here is incredible and is having a great effect on the play,” said Sunderland. “Through the first two goals, it looked as if both teams were playing five men on each side off the field and not playing with any type of midfield. We both looked tired 20 minutes into an 80-minute match.”
 
Luckily for the Fire, the team pulled away just before the half when AJ Jeffries slotted Farina into the box with a diagonal ball and the striker coolly finished for his second of the night in the 39th minute. Just after the break, Christian Henock was chopped down in the area to draw a penalty kick which Epps stepped up and finished in the 43rd.
 
With a two-goal lead in hand and taking advantage of a tired Clearwater team, the Fire possessed throughout the rest of the second half to kill of the game and take a 4-2 opening victory. With the result, the U-16s sit tied on three points with Real Salt Lake Arizona atop Group 4 who scored a matching 4-2 victory Tuesday over Seattle Sounders FC. 
 
The U-16s will look to move to six points when they take on Sounders FC at 6:30pm CT tonight in Frisco, Texas. Follow the game LIVE @ChiFireMatch
U-18s Leave it Late to Rebound from Opening Defeat 2-1 over Albertson
 
In what was another physical match against a bigger opponent, a smaller Fire U-18s side earned a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Albertson SC (New York) to keep their hopes for advancement to the National Finals alive Tuesday night.
 
Knowing the team needed a victory, the U-18s braved the heat, spreading the ball around to create opportunities but Albertson, who dropped their initial match 4-1 to Solar Chelsea Monday night resorted to long-ball and physical tactics to keep things scoreless at the break.
 
The Fire pressed the issue in the match after the break and thought they’d earned a sure penalty in the 72nd minute when forward Andrew Oliver navigated through three defenders into the box before being shoved from behind but no call was given.
 
The situation would be resurrected five minutes later when Manny Rios received the ball on the right and entered the box on the run before being hauled down. 
 
Fire midfielder Victor Pineda stepped up to the penalty spot and channeling Andrea Pirlo on Sunday, cheekily chipped his penalty effort right down the middle and just over the line to give the team a 1-0 lead.
 
“At that point in the match, when we’d played better soccer and things hadn’t been called, I didn’t mind Victor making a statement with his penalty,” said Sunderland. “We know Victor’s abilities and I don’t think it’s a bad thing for the club to have a player with the confidence in himself to do something like that.”
 
The Fire would stave off an equalizer in the 82nd minute when defender Dan Lojek cleared a ball off the line but Albertson would equalize in the 87th. 
 
Staring elimination in the face, late second half sub Manny Chavez would find the stoppage time winner for the Fire when he picked up a loose ball 25-yards out of the box and sent a looping effort that tucked inside the bottom right corner to clinch a 2-1 victory.
 
“The 18s haven’t played our best soccer of late but Tuesday night it felt we got our game back a little bit,” continued Sunderland. “Guys are excited and feel good about having to get three goals on Thursday.”
 
Sunderland refers to the scenario by which the U-18 side would find its way to the top of the group after Solar Chelsea defeated the Concorde Fire 2-0 in the day’s other group match. The Fire would need to defeat the Dallas-based club in the group finale Thursday at 11am CT (LIVE @ChiFireMatch) and hope Concorde doesn’t win by four clear goals in their finale vs. Albertson.
 
“I told them last night, since we’ve had these guys when they were 15 and 16, they always liked to make things interesting on themselves. We’ve scored three goals before and Solar’s given up three goals – we have nothing to lose on Thursday.”
DATE TIME CHICAGO FIRE OPPONENT FOLLOW/RESULTS
6/25 8:30pm CT Chicago Fire U-18 Concorde Fire (GA) 1-2 L
6/26 4:00pm CT Chicago Fire U-16 Clearwater Chargers (FL) 4-2 W
6/26 8:30pm CT Chicago Fire U-18 Albertson SC (NY) 2-1 W
6/27 6:30pm CT Chicago Fire U-16 Seattle Sounders FC (WA) @ChiFireMatch
6/28 11:00am CT Chicago Fire U-18 Solar Chelsea SC (TX) @ChiFireMatch
6/29 9:00am CT Chicago Fire U-16 Real Salt Lake (AZ) @ChiFireMatch

 

26 June 8:58 am

When you haven’t lost a game in 21 matches and the bulk of your team was the one that took a Development Academy national title in 2010, its fair to say you have a target on your back.

This was the case in the Fire U-18 Academy’s 2-1 loss to Concorde Fire (Ga.) to open the U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Playoffs Tuesday night in Frisco, Texas.

Playing in the 94-degree early summer heat in Dallas, the Fire U-18s nearly went up in the 10th minute when Andrew Oliver had an effort cleared off the line.

The team continued to possess throughout the first half and got what seemed a back-breaking goal just before the interval. A long sequence of passes led to Oliver sliding Luis Barajas through the Concorde backline before the winger placed his shot past the opposing ‘keeper to give the Fire a 1-0 lead in the 44th minute.

The goal didn’t put the physically more dominant Georgian side down however as a scramble off a 35-yard free kick led to the equalizer in the 69th minute. Nineteen minutes later, a similar sequence off a free kick from nearly the same spot saw Concorde steal a late goal to upset the top-ranked Fire U-18s, 2-1.

“We didn’t play a complete 90 minutes,” Fire Academy Director Larry Sunderland said following the match. “It never fails – when you cheat yourselves a little bit, it catches you. That’s what happened here.

“Concorde is a team we were going to have trouble with because they’re big, physical, direct and we’re a smaller team. Aside from those free kicks, they didn’t threaten us much but the muscle they play with kept them in the game. Credit to them for the win.”

With the gauntlet laid down and Solar Chelsea’s (Texas) 4-1 drubbing of Albertson SC (NY) Tuesday night, the Fire U-18s now have no more room for error and will likely need a little help in their remaining group matches. They also have little time to recover as their second game of the tournament comes tonight against Albertston at 8:30pm CT (LIVE on @ChiFireMatch).

While the U-18s prepare for another primetime match, their U-16 brethren will take their opening bow of the competition later this afternoon when they face Clearwater Charges (Florida) at 4pm CT (LIVE on @ChiFireMatch).

With the following two group matches coming against fellow MLS Academy sides Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake Arizona, a win Tuesday afternoon is considered key to advancement from the group. 

DATE TIME CHICAGO FIRE OPPONENT FOLLOW/RESULTS
6/25 8:30pm CT Chicago Fire U-18 Concorde Fire (GA) 1-2 L
6/26 4:00pm CT Chicago Fire U-16 Clearwater Chargers (FL) @ChiFireMatch
6/26 8:30pm CT Chicago Fire U-18 Albertson SC (NY) @ChiFireMatch
6/27 6:30pm CT Chicago Fire U-16 Seattle Sounders FC (WA) @ChiFireMatch
6/28 11:00am CT Chicago Fire U-18 Solar Chelsea SC (TX) @ChiFireMatch
6/29 9:00am CT Chicago Fire U-16 Real Salt Lake (AZ) @ChiFireMatch

 

25 June 9:24 am

Its playoff time! No, Doc Brown hasn't taken you in a Delorean to early November, rather, today kicks off the 2012 U.S. Soccer Development Academy postseason at the FC Dallas training complex in Frisco, Texas. 

Having finished the 2011-12 USSDA Regular Season as the top ranked team in the nation, the Fire U-18 squad begins its bid for a place at next month's Finals Week in Houston tonight when they take on the Concorde Fire (Georgia) tonight at 8:30pm CT. 

A bulk of the current squad were part of the club's 2010 U-16 National Championship team and have gone on to impress again this season with an 18-2-3 overall record. After last losing their first two matches of the season, the team is riding a 21-match unbeaten streak into this week's round-robin tournament and will be bolstered by current first teamers Victor Pineda and Kellen Gulley (pictures left and right above).

Having finished the regular season sixth in the nation, U-16 Academy side kicks off its bid for Houston Tuesday afternoon when they take on the Clearwater Chargers (Florida) at 4pm CT. 

Fire fans can follow all six of the club's U16 and U18 Academy matches this week LIVE via @ChiFireMatch (see full schedule below) and here on Always on the Inside, we'll have daily updates on how both squads are doing this week in Frisco!

DATE TIME CHICAGO FIRE OPPONENT FOLLOW
6/25 8:30pm CT Chicago Fire U-18 Concorde Fire (GA) @ChiFireMatch
6/26 4:00pm CT Chicago Fire U-16 Clearwater Chargers (FL) @ChiFireMatch
6/26 8:30pm CT Chicago Fire U-18 Albertson SC (NY) @ChiFireMatch
6/27 6:30pm CT Chicago Fire U-16 Seattle Sounders FC (WA) @ChiFireMatch
6/28 11:00am CT Chicago Fire U-18 Solar Chelsea SC (TX) @ChiFireMatch
6/29 9:00am CT Chicago Fire U-16 Real Salt Lake (AZ) @ChiFireMatch

 

23 June 9:25 am

Five things you should know ahead of tonight’s match against the Columbus Crew at Toyota Park (Pre-game on NBC 5.2 beginning at 7pm, radio broadcast on ESPN Deportes 97.5 FM beginning at 7:30pm).

1) ANOTHER UNBEATEN RUN… A 3-1 win over Red Bull on Sunday extended the Fire’s unbeaten run vs. New York at Toyota Park to 6-0-3 since the stadium opened in 2006. Tonight, the Fire have another unbeaten run to extend at Toyota Park against the Crew where the team has gone 3-0-4 since last losing to Columbus in Bridgeview on October 7, 2006.
 
2) WHITFIELD 15… Though he’d never say it, it must be somewhat difficult for Fire color analyst Evan Whitfield to watch as current players pass his amount of appearances. Earlier this year it was Patrick Nyarko who moved into 13th on the club’s all-time appearance list by passing the former Fire defender at 103 regular season games played. With an appearance tonight, Marco Pappa will do the same, moving past Evan into 14th place with 104 games played. 
 
3) LOGAN SECOND AGAIN… He sits second behind C.J. Brown in all-time Fire appearances and starts in MLS and across all competitions. With five minutes spent on the Toyota Park pitch tonight Fire captain Logan Pause (19,201) will move past Zach Thornton (19,205) into second all-time in MLS minutes played for the Fire.
 
4) MILLER LITE HOLOGRAM CUP… More of a promo than anything else but the first 5,000 fans 21 and up into Toyota Park tonight will receive this Fire hologram cup courtesy of Miller Lite!
 
5) #VoteFIRE… Twitter voting for the MLS All-Star game may be over but the Hashtag battle with the Columbus Crew runs through tonight at 7pm CT! Continue to find creative ways to #VoteFire in your tweets, to ensure we beat the Crew in the digital world before a win on the field tonight.
 
 
PREVIEW: FIre vs. Crew
21 June 9:24 am

Buon compleanno to the Fire’s resident Italian goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi!

In case Paolo was feeling a bit homesick on his birthday, we at “Always on the Inside” decided to bring a little bit of Italy to him.

Make sure you wish Paolo a Happy 24th Birthday today by commenting and liking this post on Facebook or Tweeting to him @PaulTornaghi!