Blog

MLS Regular Season

31 July 10:23 am

As I’m sure you’ve come to realize the last week, picking a Top 15 list for this club is a daunting task. Weighing personal accomplishments along with how the team did during a players tenure and how that player represented the badge – let’s just say you can enter everything you want into an Excel Spreadsheet and you’ll still change your mind 43 different times.

Luckily for everyone else voting, your ballot is private, so you don’t have to worry about excluding someone very deserving, or even someone you see on a daily basis.

After much deliberation, here are my public picks for the Top 15 Fire players of all time.

DISCLAIMER – These are my own picks and do not necessarily reflect voting trends or the ballots of other voters.

#15 Frank Klopas (1998-99) – Though Frank played only two seasons for the Fire, he was part of the original group that wore the badge with pride. His “Golden Goal” in the 1998 U.S. Open Cup Final started the club’s tradition of success in the tournament and few players have meant as much to the club as Frank as reflected by being chosen second into the Ring of Fire back in 2004.

#14 Hristo Stoitchkov (2000-02) – Stoitchkov only won one trophy in Chicago, following up Frank’s ’98 Golden Goal with the game-winner in the 2000 U.S. Open Cup Final. A world renowned star, when the Mad Bulgarian came to Chicago, he reinforced the spirit of the hardworking, win-at-all cost teams that the Fire became known for early on in the league. With 24 goals and 22 assists in just 70 competitive matches, Stoitchkov was on the score sheet in some form 66% of the time during his Fire stay.

#13 Gonzalo Segares (2005-present) - Segares is one of the few true left backs the Fire have ever had and most of the reason for that is the fact that he's locked down the position for half the club's existence. One of only three players on the current roster to win a trophy with the club, Segares sits behind only Lubos Kubik for most offense produced by a defender and seems destined to become just the eighth player in club history to hit 200 competitive appearances before season's end.

#12 Logan Pause (2003-present) – The current club captain, Logan Pause stands as the club’s connection to the near treble winning year of 2003. A hard-working midfielder that’s modeled himself after the likes of Chris Armas and Jesse Marsch, Pause has been a constant in the Fire lineup the past 10 seasons, even going to play at right back when needed. Though lacking in offensive achievements, Pause has been a part of three title winning teams and sits second behind only C.J. Brown on the club’s all-time appearance list at 291 games played.

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#11 Jesse Marsch (1998-05) – Like Gutierrez, Marsch combined with Armas, Pause and others throughout the years to make the Fire midfield an undesirable place for opponents. Never accuse of being the most skilled, Marsch was always smart on the ball while quietly tallying 23 goals (9th all-time) and 32 assists (6th all-time) on his way to winning five of six of the club’s domestic titles.

#10 Chris Rolfe (2005-09; 2012-present) – The highest on the list of the current Fire roster, Rolfe became the club’s second all-time leading goal scorer before leaving for Denmark at the end of 2009. That feat is even more impressive when you consider a lot of games saw him playing out of position on the right wing and he never tallied 10 goals in a season.  The two goals since his return have him at 41 but it will take a while for him to catch Ante Razov at 95…

#9 DaMarcus Beasley (2000-04) – One of the most fouled players in MLS during four and a half seasons in Chicago, Beasley provided speed and constant danger to aid the likes of Razov, Peter Nowak, Josh Wolff and Damani Ralph. A winner of three domestic titles with the Fire, his stats (134 GP, 18 goals, 28 assists) would be much higher had he not left for PSV Eindhoven midway through 2004.

#8 Cuauhtemoc Blanco (2007-09) – The only player on my Top 15 list that never won a trophy in Chicago, Blanco proved those wrong that anticipated him viewing MLS as a retirement league. The legendary Mexican midfielder tallied 19 goals and 28 assists in his 77 appearances for the Fire (61% conversion rate) and led the team to three consecutive Eastern Conference finals as well as the 2009 SuperLiga championship match.

#7 Carlos Bocanegra (2000-03) – Boca’s case is very similar to that of Beasley’s in that his stats and accomplishments would likely be much greater if he hadn’t left for Fulham after 2003. Still, Boca was the 2000 Rookie of the Year, two-time MLS Defender of the Year and Best XI selections (2002-03) along with three domestic titles. There are few defenders all-time in MLS that have been quite as dominant as Carlos Bocanegra was in his time with the Fire.

VOTE FOR YOUR #FIRE15 PLAYERS BY CLICKING HERE

#6 Lubos Kubik (1998-00) – The backbone of the 1998 double-winning team, Kubik won MLS Defender of the Year that season and was likely one of the few MLS defenders more dominant than Bocanegra during his three seasons in Chicago. The third inductee into the Ring of Fire, Kubik also holds the distinction of being the most offensive defender in club history, tallying 19 goals and 25 assists in 88 matches.

#5 Zach Thornton (1998-2006) – One of only three players to be part of all six domestic championship teams, Thornton beat out Jorge Campos to win the starting job during his first season in Chicago. He holds the distinction of holding most of the club’s goalkeeping records and is one of Major League Soccer’s top goalkeepers of all-time.

#4 C.J. Brown (1998-2010) – The club’s all-time longest serving player, C.J. Brown’s heaviest stats come in the form of being the Fire’s  leader in appearances (372 competitive, 296 MLS) and yellow cards (62). A former club captain, Brown joins Thornton as one of the three Fire players to be part of all six domestic titles, while carrying on the tradition of hard-nosed soccer in Chicago. Brown was the most recent inductee into the Ring of Fire.

#3 Ante Razov (1998-2004) – What can you say about a guy that nearly scored 100 goals in a Fire uniform? Having tallied double-digit goals in five of his seven seasons in Chicago, Razov’s offensive achievements with the Fire (95 goals, 51 assists in 196 games) match up with anyone else’s in Major League Soccer. Despite his incredible scoring record, Razov was just once named to the MLS Best XI (2003) and All-Star Game (2000).

#2 Chris Armas (1998-2007) – A revelation of sorts when he joined Chicago via trade from LA in 1998, Armas epitomized the work ethic and attitude that would come to be known from Fire teams in years to come. His play in Chicago helped him carve out a place with the U.S. Men’s National Team and if not for a devastating injury, would have taken part in at least one FIFA World Cup.  Despite being known as the ultimate destroyer in midfield, Armas quietly racked up 53 assists, good enough for second on the club’s all-time list. The club’s second captain, Armas was a five-time MLS Best XI selection, four-time all-star and is one of seven members of the Ring of Fire.

#1 Peter Nowak (1998-02) – I hope there was little doubt that Nowak would always be the number one choice. The first captain in club history, it was the former Polish international that often times put the team on his shoulders during the early seasons. The only player in Fire history that can claim an MLS Cup MVP award, Nowak is the club’s all-time leader in assists with 60, a three-time Chicago Fire MVP and MLS Best XI selection and the original inductee in the club’s Ring of Fire.

Flame away or continue to vote for your #Fire15 players through August 1 by clicking here.

 

 

 

27 July 9:58 am

The Fire play the Supporters Shield leaders San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday night at Buck Shaw Stadium. Here are a few things to look out for from a tactical standpoint…

Outside Backs: San Jose’s Biggest Threat?

 

COACH'S TAKE: Matko on Quakes

 

When people think of the ‘Quakes, everyone’s mind wanders straight to 17-goal striker Chris Wondolowski. Unfortunately for the Fire, San Jose is far from a one-trick pony. Saturday night the team has another date with a league-leading side in the Golden State but they’ll head north of Carson to take on the high-flying San Jose Earthquakes at Buck Shaw Stadium.
 
Two of the Earthquakes biggest threats come in the form of their wingbacks, Steven Beitashour and Justin Morrow. Beitashour, who has six assists this year, is suspended for Saturday’s match but this will not stop the ‘Quakes from pushing their full backs forward at every opportunity. They look to get in 2v1 situations which allow them space to cross into the middle for the ever-dangerous trifecta of Wondowski Steven Leinhart and Alan Gordon.  
 
Last week, Vancouver allowed Morrow and Beitashour to get behind on too many occasions with Morrow in particular causing problems down the left wing. Marco Pappa’s suspension means we will likely see Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko playing in the wide positions for the Fire. Both Rolfe andNyarko are very good at tracking back and helping out the wide defenders – something that will be essential in thwarting San Jose on Saturday.
 
Outside Backs: San Jose’s Biggest Weakness?

With six more goals scored than any other team in the league this season and two in-form strikers, San Jose just can’t stop scoring. That being said, the team’s 44 goals eclipse the fact that they have given up 27. Of the teams currently in playoff positions, only New York and the Galaxy have given up more. 

Last week’s loss to Vancouver exposed one of San Jose’s biggest weaknesses which also happens to be one of Fire’s greatest strengths: speed. Though Morrow had a good game on the attacking side, he was punished time after time by Dane Richards whose goal came directly from a Morrow error.

On the right hand side, San Jose will be without Beitashour for the first time all season which could pay dividends for the Men in Red. The pace of the Fire’s Ghanaian duo of Nyarko and Oduro could cause San Jose some major problems on the outside. Because the outside backs push up so much, there is plenty of room behind them for Oduro to run into. When he does go wide however, it requires the other attack-minded players Rolfe, Alex and Nyarko to get into the box in support.

Wondo and Gordon: Stay Tight

A major reason San Jose is sitting at the top of MLS this season are the goals from Wondolowski (17), Gordon (9) and Lenhart (6). The Quakes don’t  set up their strikes the traditional way, with one on the shoulder off the last defender looking for flick-ons from the target man. Wondolowski and Gordon/Lenhart are constantly switching positions; dropping back into midfield and drifting wide. The interchanging of positions causes major problems for defenders and is one reason why you see Wondolowski score so many simple goals (think Fire vs. San Jose last season) - even though he is the obvious danger man, his movement makes him so difficult to pick up.

The other reason is that San Jose attack in such great numbers that it allows Wondo to go undetected. It sounds simple to say “stay with your man” or “keep your eye on the man and not the ball” but that’s exactly what the Fire need to do. 

Using last week’s game as an example again, Jay DeMerit didn't let him out of his sight for almost the entire match to great effect. The Fire's defensive performances have been stellar this season we and should expect nothing less from Austin Berry and co on Saturday night.
 
Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @Irish_Steve.

 

17 July 10:52 am

A midday, midweek match in mid-July Jersey humidity doesn’t seem like the greatest idea in the world but, that’s what will occur Wednesday afternoon as the Fire visit the New York Red Bulls in Harrison, New Jersey.

While the kickoff time gives the game a bit of a Chicago Cubs at Wrigley feel, I did a non-scientific survey of Fire players Monday to see if they’d ever played a game of significance in the middle of a week day.

Cory Gibbs: “No.”
Corben Bone: “No.”
Austin Berry: “No.”
Jalil Anibaba: “No.”

Though the topics couldn’t be more different, the responses put together began to sound like a certain Amy Winehouse song.

Fire captain Logan Pause came to the rescue with this answer, “Midweek, midday? Maybe in youth soccer. I don’t think in college we even played midweek games in the middle of the day so I'm sure Wednesday will be a first for most of the guys.”

Part of that is likely because playing in the middle of the day in summer heat doesn’t necessarily make for good soccer. For those wondering why the kickoff is set for 12pm CT (1pm local time), the Red Bulls are going back to experiment with a “Camp Day” looking to attract summer camps to Red Bull Arena Wednesday afternoon.

As this article from BigAppleSoccer.com’s Michael Lewis points out, it’s something the team’s precursor, the MetroStars, did in a match against Kansas City back in 2003. The result for the Wizards Jimmy Conrad and the Metros Edgar Bartholomeu weren’t great

Luckily for both sides Red Bull Arena’s grass field is not the Giant’s Stadium turf, which should make things a little bit cooler in a match that is absolutely considered a “swing game” with the Fire sitting just one point behind New York in the Eastern Conference standings.

“Wednesday is obviously an important game despite the weird time and whatever heat we have to deal with,” said Pause. “Either way, the way our schedule goes through the summer – midweek, weekend -- I honestly lose track of the days.”

PREVIEW: Fire vs. Red Bulls

11 July 10:07 am

Yesterday I wrote an open letter to MLS All-Star head coach Ben Olsen asking him to consider selecting Patrick Nyarko for the 2012 MLS All-Star Game. I was told this morning Ben had indeed read the letter which is the most I could hope for in the matter. Thanks for your consideration Ben!

Now into the third day of the #PickPat campaign, this morning I took the deep plunge in writing another open letter, this time to MLS Commissioner Don Garber to ask for his consideration of Patrick as one of the two "Commissioner's Picks" for this month's match vs. Chelsea FC.

Here's what I said...

Dear Commissioner Garber,

Though there’s no way you remember, I had the pleasure of meeting you at the Chicago Fire Season Kickoff Luncheon in 2011. Fire owner Andrew Hauptman graciously pulled me over and introduced me as “the man who knows all things about our club”. Surely he might have been exaggerating a bit but I do pride myself on my ability to name our Top 15 goal scorers by total, in reverse order, without skipping a beat.

It’s in that spirit that I come to you with a request: select Patrick Nyarko as one of your two “Commissioner’s picks” for this month’s MLS All-Star Game against Chelsea FC.

As Commissioner you’ve accomplished a lot -- modern day statisticians and soccer purists hold you in high regard for abolishing the hockey-style shootout while the businessmen and marketers of the league praise your name for the push of soccer-specific stadia and Designated Players.

Pat’s not a DP and he’s not even the biggest name in the Chicago Fire locker room so perhaps it wasn’t all that surprising for him to not be included in the team’s six nominees for this year’s MLS All-Star fan voting. Anyone that has watched the team and Pat’s play over the past three seasons will tell you he’s likely been the club’s most consistent performer, shredding defenses with his speed, ability on the ball and excellent work rate.

With that in mind, it was considered quite a coup for the club to re-sign Patrick earlier this year as he would have easily been a target of European sides once his contract expired at season’s end. 

While I made the statistical and playing case to MLS All-Star head coach Ben Olsen Tuesday, today I point to Patrick’s dedication to the club and the league as a reason you should consider him for one of your Commissioner’s picks for the All-Star game.

The DP’s of the league will certainly help sell tickets, merchandise and TV rights but players of Pat’s ability and ethic are the ones the league has always built its back on. His story alone is a great one but his ability to come in and improve every day and be a positive force on and off the field is a great advertisement for our club as well as Major League Soccer.

In the past your choices for the All-Star game have sometimes been about making sure a certain name is present but you’ve also selected players deserving players that have been overlooked.

I can think of no one better that Patrick that falls in to the second category of recognition and ask you to strongly consider to #PickPat on Sunday for this year’s MLS All-Star Game.

Yours in Soccer, 

 
Jeff Crandall
Chicago Fire Team Writer

Keep up the #PickPat campaign. Tweet the #PickPat hashtag to @TheSoccerDon with your best reasons to #PickPat for the 2012 #MLSAllStar Game!

10 July 1:05 pm

Last week we began our #Fire15 countdown with Memorable Matches 13-15. This week we continue with Games 10-12 as we work our way towards the club's 15th Anniversary match to be held Wednesday, October 3 against the Philadelphia Union at Toyota Park.

#12  -  "CHI-TOWN BEATDOWN" - Chicago Fire 3, New England Revolution - November 6, 2008  -  MLS Eastern Conference Semifinals, Second Leg  -  Toyota Park, Bridgeview, IL

Prior to this match, the Fire had tied New England 0-0 at Gillette Stadium in the first leg of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Playing at home for the second leg, the Fire found their way to driver’s seat just before the half  when, Cuauhtemoc Blanco's shot from the edge of the box forced New England goalkeeper Matt Reis cough up a rebound. Chris Rolfe put himself in the right place and casually knocked the ball into goal to give the Fire the lead.

Four minutes later, Justin Mapp's perfectly placed  free kick toward goal found the head of Wilman Conde who pounced on the chance with the header to take things to 2-0.

The Fire would put the match out of reach when Chris Rolfe's cutting low cross was calmly finished by Gonzalo Segares, giving the Toyota Park crowd 16 minutes to sing about going to the team's seventh Conference Final appearance in 11 seasons. 

#11  - "THE FOURTH OF JULY MASSACRE" - Chicago Fire 7, Kansas City Wizards 0 - July 4, 2001  -  MLS Regular Season -  Arrowhead Stadium, Kansas City, MO

With a sour taste in their mouths from the 2000 MLS Cup defeat to the Wizards less than a year before, there were truly fireworks on this Fourth of July matchup at Arrowhead Stadium. The Fire didn't take long to take off in the first minute with a goal from Jamar Beasley.
 
The feasting on KC continued when Sergi Daniv (7’) made it 2-0 inside 10 minutes before U.S. international Eric Wynalda's 44th minute goal took the team into the half at 3-0.
 
After an early first half lull,the Men in Red sprung back into action, as both Peter Nowak (72' and 81') and second half substitute Hristo Stoitchkov (83' and 88') tallied two goals each inside the final 20 minutes to make this match one to forget for all in Kansas City. 
 
#10  - "THE CAPITAL COMEBACK" Chicago Fire 2, D.C. United 1  October 15, 2011  -  MLS Regular Season -  RFK Stadium, Washington, D.C.
 
The Fire dominated the majority of this regular season match, with eight shots on goal to D.C.’s one. Still, the Men in Red were continually thwarted by United goalkeeper Bill Hamid.
 
With a scoreless deadlock and both teams' playoff hopes hanging in the balance, referee Jorge Gonzalez whistled Fire defender Gonzalo Segares for a foul in the box on Santino Quaranta in the 88th minute. Lethal MLS attacker Dwayne De Rosario stepped up and sent Sean Johnson the wrong way on the spot kick, giving the home side a late lead.
 
Despite the foul, Segares kept his head up and laid off a pass for Sebastian Grazzini to equalize in the 92nd minute.
 
Just as it looked like both sides would settle for a draw, Segares would chase down Orr Barouch's hopeful endline ball, and center his effort past a flailing Hamid, leaving Diego Chaves an empty net to finish in and giving the Fire an incredible 2-1 "Capital Comeback" victory.
 
Stay tuned next week for Games #7-10 in our #Fire15 Memorable Matches countdown!

 

10 July 8:49 am

The #PickPat for #MLSAllStar Campaign got off to a successful start on Monday with a lot of great tweets appealing to Ben Olsen and Don Garber to select Patrick Nyarko to the squad that will face Chelsea FC on Wednesday, July 25 in Philadelphia. 

Our work isn't done though. Just minutes ago, I sent the below e-mail (on Fire letterhead) to MLS All-Star Head Coach Ben Olsen, drawing on the similarities between he and Patrick and asking for him to consider @PattyBerron as one of his selections for this month's All-Star game. 
 
Dear Ben,
 
I’ve been an admirer of your career for your on-the-field contributions as well as your ability to come back. I say this as someone that didn’t enjoy seeing your name on the team sheet against the Men in Red.
 
In the early days of your career, there were few others in MLS that combined the speed and attacking ability and most importantly work ethic that you provided with D.C. United. 

After experiencing a pretty devastating injury in 2001, you fought back, moved into a new position and made your way on to a U.S. World Cup team in 2006, one you would have been on four years earlier if not for said injury.
 
Meet Patrick Nyarko. 
 
I say that in jest because I know you already know him. As part of the MLS head coach’s fraternity, you certainly include him in your pre-game team talk prior to a match against the Fire. Just a guess, but you might mention that he’s a player that reminds you of well, you.
 
Pat left his family in Ghana to join Virginia Tech (don’t let your Cavalier side hold that against him) and went on to become one of the most coveted players in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. Much like you spent your first year in D.C. living with Bruce Arena, Pat counts one of his former Hokie teammates’ families as his “American family”.
 
Similarly, Pat moved away from his normal position as a forward to play as a winger early on in his professional career. This move wasn’t forced by injury but was one to make the player more effective for the team. Over the past three seasons, Pat has used his speed, ability to change directions and skill on the ball to terrorize MLS defenses.
 
While you suffered from ankle and other issues, Pat has dealt with concussions. Despite suffering at least two during his time with the Fire, he’s continued to improve every match and played fearlessly while knowing the risk of another is there.
 
Like you, Patrick hasn’t scored a ton of goals so far but ironically, he’s just ahead of your five-year assist mark at this point in his career (23 to 24). 
 
Many in Chicago (not that you care what anyone here thinks) found it surprising that Patrick wasn’t included among the team’s six players nominated for the MLS All-Star Game considering the consensus says he’s been the team’s most consistent performer this season. 
 
I say all this in an appeal to you to name Patrick as one of your selections to the 2012 MLS All-Star Game in Philadelphia later this month. Knowing the character you’ve always shown, I know you won’t let that MLS Cup ’98 defeat sour your view of Patrick. It would have capped a nice rookie year for you but Patrick was only 13 then. 
 
Maybe a start isn’t in the cards, but can you think of many other players in the league you would want coming off the bench in a game like this? When a Chelsea team in preseason form begins to whither in the Pennsylvania heat? 
 
If not, you should #PickPat
 
Yours in Soccer,
 

Jeff Crandall
Chicago Fire Team Writer
 
Keep up the #PickPat campaign by tweeting your support for Patrick to @DCUnited and @TheSoccerDon. The remaining selections for the 2012 MLS All-Star game will be announced at halftime of Sunday's Seattle vs. New York match at 3pm CT on ESPN.
 

 

09 July 12:13 pm

Full disclosure here: I saw the Twitter campaign the Chicago White Sox did to get Jake Peavy onto the American League All-Star team for tomorrow’s game.  #TakeJake made its way into the Fourth of July Parade and with Dave Kaplan on Chicago Tribune Live and I have to admit, I became a little envious.  

Though it didn’t exactly work (Peavy finished second in MLB Twitter voting to the Texas Rangers Yu Darvish), the Sox right-hander has reportedly replaced injured L.A. Angels southpaw C.J. Wilson on the All-Star team.

 

THE INVERTED WINGER: Patrick Nyarko

 
Last month Fire supporters did an amazing job in registering Twitter votes for the team’s six nominated MLS All-Stars. In a contest with Columbus, the Fire Twitter family quite frankly sent Crew fans back to the cow pasture from whence they came, outvoting them by a 3-1 margin. Though all the while, the victory seemed bittersweet as seemingly one of the team’s most deserving candidates wasn’t included.  
 
You see the journalists of North American soccer (who decided every team’s six All-Star nominees) fight the good fight, though like any other sport, they seem to recognize name a bit more than form or other contributions.
 
Cut to Patrick Nyarko, who over the past three seasons has become one of Major League Soccer’s most underrated players. Even when the side’s on-the-field play hasn’t been sub-par, the Ghanaian winger, forward (let’s just call him attacker?) has always provided danger and shown a constant threat in stretching and exposing the opposition’s defense.
 
A goal scorer he is not… Nyarko has only hit the back of the net nine times in his MLS career but he has found his role as a set up man providing 22 of his 24 league assists in the past three seasons. On top of that, Nyarko finished in the  Top 5 in the league in Big Chances Created (7) and Chances from the run of play (56) in 2011 and is currently tied with Javier Morales for Big Chances (7) and behind only Landon Donovan in Chances Created from the Run of Play (30 to 36). 
 
While speed is one of his best attributes, the most impressive quality that he’s gained over the past 12 months has been his ability to navigate through defenses, maintaining possession of the ball almost as if it never leaves his foot. 
 
Those qualities combined with the fact that Nyarko is fouled a lot (he’s been Top 10 in fouls suffered each of the past two seasons) and still finds a way to get back up is impressive and draws a lot of comparisons to former Fire winger DaMarcus Beasley. Moreover, he currently sits behind only countryman Dominic Oduro for consecutive league appearances at 41.
 
The Ghanaian national team recognized Nyarko’s effort earlier this year when he received his first call-up for the Black Stars in a 1-1 friendly draw with Chile back in February. Coming on as a second-half sub in that match, by all accounts Ghana could have easily won if only they’d found a way to finish one of the many chances created by Nyarko.
 
So while there is no Twitter vote left for the #MLSAllStar’s game vs. Chelsea, there is a chance to make an appeal to the two men who will decide the remaining players to fill out the league squad.
 
Over the next few days I’ll post my open letters to MLS All-Star Head Coach Ben Olsen and League Commissioner Don Garber, laying out the case for a player that has often been overlooked but is deserving of such an honor this season. 
 
Knowing how active Fire fans are in the Twitter-verse, I call on all of Fire nation to send your #PickPat messages to @DCUnited and @TheSoccerDon. Heck, send them over to @MLS_Insider and all your friends too. 
 

Spread the word,
 

 

05 July 12:37 pm

One-named players in the game of soccer are almost exclusively Brazilian. Going by a single name is almost a rite of passage for anyone that learned to play “joga bonito” growing up and its no different for new Fire arrival Alex who didn’t take long to put the Brazilian flare on display in last Friday’s 1-0 victory at Sporting KC.

While Alex shows promise, I thought it a smart exercise to detail the other Major League Soccer’s other one-named players that Alex  should look to as an example.

The Good 

Welton (New England, 1996; LA Galaxy, 1997-99; Miami 1999-00) - One of my sentimental favorites, Welton (pictured right) never really won a title in MLS and but #OldSchoolMLSFans will remember him as one of the most successful one-namers in league history (as well as a constant on my early MLS Fantasy team).

A traveling man of sorts, the Rio native would tally 43 goals and 34 assists over 144 career matches for New England, LA and Miami. He twice hit for double-digit goals in a season, scoring 11 goals in 1997 and 17 goals in 1998 for the Galaxy.

Fire fans will probably remember him best for ruining Zach Thornton’s shutout bid in the 2000 U.S. Open Cup Final with his 90th minute strike, which was the last goal he would score for an MLS side.

Camilo (Vancouver, 2011-present) – The midfielder led the Whitecaps with 12 goals and three assists over 32 matches in the club’s inaugural MLS campaign last season. His scoring pace is slightly slower this season with only three goals and two assists but he’s aided Vancouver to third place in the West at the half way point.

Preki (Kansas City 1996-2000, 2002-05; Miami 2001) – The best one-namer in league history isn’t even Brazilian. Preki’s (right) story is well known… a Yugoslavian indoor star who made his way back to Europe to play for Everton and Portsmouth before returning stateside to carve out one of the top careers in MLS history.

Spending all but one of his 10 MLS seasons in Kansas City, Preki amassed 79 goals and 112 assists in 242 games from 1996-2005, winning one MLS Cup (2000), two Supporters Shields (2000 KC; 2001 Miami) and one U.S. Open Cup (2004). He was twice named MLS Most Valuable Player in 1997 and 2003 and had four seasons in which he hit double-digit goals (scoring 18 in 1996).

Oh he also scored the United States’ only game-winning goal against Brazil.

Preki was good, that’s all. 

Juninho (LA Galaxy, 2010-present) – There have been more than a few Juninho’s before the Galaxy’s Juninho Paulista came onto the MLS scene but the central midfielder has proven to be one of the best one-namers ever in MLS. Since coming to the Galaxy on loan from Sao Paulo in 2010, Juninho has appeared in 72 matches, tallying seven goals and five assists while helping the Gals to a Supporters Shield and the team’s third MLS Cup last season.

Thiago (Chicago Fire, 2005-2007) – No Fire list of one-name players could ever be complete without Alex’s precursor at the club, Thiago (photo right). After impressing on a trial in 2004, the Porto Alegre product joined the Fire in 2005 and would go on to tally six goals and seven assists during his first season in Chicago.

The following year, he would bag just three goals and two assists in the league but wrote his name into Fire lore for his late-game, close-range tap-in to send Toyota Park into pandemonium as the Fire clinched their MLS-record fourth U.S. Open Cup title with a 3-1 victory over the LA Galaxy on September 23, 2006.

With diminished playing time in 2007, Thiago was released by the Fire that September. Now 30, he’s bounced around Brazil’s lower leagues, winning the Campeanato Gaucho Segunda Divisao with hometown club Porto Alegre in 2009 and currently plays for Sao Luiz de Ijui. 

 

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.