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16 May 10:21 am

Those that paid attention to the Twitter-verse during Tuesday night’s U.S. Open Cup first round might have seen the name Duka being bandied about in Icon FC’s 4-1 defeat of Brooklyn Italians.

No, Fire midfielder Dilly Duka isn’t moonlighting out east.

The Duka in question was actually his older brother Argjent who tallied a hat trick in the New Jersey-based side’s first round Open Cup win. The 27-year-old Duka scored in the 12th, 51st and 76th minute to push Icon past the NPSL side and into a second round matchup with the Richmond Kickers next Tuesday.

READ: Icon FC vs. Brooklyn Italians Match Report

Back in Chicago, Dilly forewent Twitter updates and found his own way to see the match.

“I actually watched the game through Facetime on my iPhone,” he joked. “I had my sister post up in the stands and kind of record it while I watched. I didn’t get a TV view of everything but I saw most of the plays.”
The younger Duka isn’t surprised by his brother or Icon’s success either.

“He’s quick, he’s technical and he obviously knows how to finish. It’s a good team and it’s a lot of guys I play with in the offseason so their chemistry is obviously better than some of the PDL or NPSL sides now.

“I’m excited for them. I think they can make it a little further.”

Duka also reacted to the news of the Fire’s potential third round opponents: the Charlotte Eagles or Seattle Sounders U-23s.

“These teams are going to be excited to play against us. They’re definitely going to change their formation and go more defensive. We have to go in focused and take it seriously.

READ: Fire to Enter in Third Round of USOC

“I was in Columbus the past three years – the first year we took it seriously and did okay but the second and third year we lost in our first game. Whoever we play, it’ll be the biggest game of the year for them.”

While Duka is a former Crew player, he knows well his current team’s history in the U.S. Open Cup.

“You come here and you know the Open Cup is important. I’m aware of that and I’m sure we’re going to try and live up to our name and history in the competition.”
 

14 May 2:59 pm

It's GIFTuesday!

This week we bring you Chris Rolfe doing his best Patrick Nyarko impression.

Yes, you may add you're own sound effects.

For more GIFs check out our Boards on Pinterest at pinterest.com/chicagofiremls

14 May 12:07 pm

Saturday was rough. You could almost feel the sucker punch coming, and it still hurt. Bad. There were a few interesting moments in the game but I couldn’t stop thinking about the wind. It’s one of the identifying characteristics of footy that you play in basically any condition, and it affects the way you play, the way you think about playing, and, obviously the results.
 
For all its stripped down, no pads, anyone-can-play humanity, the NBA is sterile in this regard. Every court is exactly the same and predictable (unless you have a bad shooting night, then you can blame the stadium’s depth perception, or lighting problems). Football has to play in weather, but they ruin the fun by putting Super Bowls in safe weather cities. Baseball has to play in weather too, but they cancel games if anyone gets mud on their shoes.
 
No, soccer has to deal with the elements in every way, from bee attacks to snow to pitch problems to wind.
 
Saturday against Philly began as a perfect example. The wind was strong enough to blow the froth off your beer. I saw a garbage can at Toyota Park get blown over and almost tumble down an aisle. Meanwhile, Philly could hardly get the ball in the air, and when they did, the wind held it up like the perfect alley oop. Austin Berry and Jalil Anibaba were able to measure the long balls up easily and win them consistently, even over Connor Casey.
 
But as the game developed, it was interesting because the wind didn’t seem to influence the game as much as it could have. It was irritating for the players (I’ve never seen Gonzalo Segares overhit so many crosses), and definitely a factor (it made Sean Johnson look like superman, I swear he could’ve kicked a goal kick into a bags game on the Party Deck in the first half if he wanted to), but it wasn’t the storyline.
 
Anibaba and Berry kept winning headers off goal kicks and clearances going both directions, and neither team were obviously playing out of the back on the ground the way teams do when they’re avoiding long balls into the wind. It seemed like a stalemate between the wind and the two sides. If only the wind could’ve pushed Patrick Nyarko's second half chance just an inch or two left, we’d be here sipping champagne joking about the wind, but we got sucker punched.
 
Let’s take the funny with the tragic, here. The Fire were clearly robbed of three points, and the good news is that there’s plenty of time to recover these lost points. The Rolfe/Nyarko partnership is promising, the weather’s getting better, and at the end of the season we’ll look back at plays like this one from Anibaba and laugh.

10 May 9:47 am

The Fire head into Saturday afternoon’s game against the Union (12:30pm CT on NBC Sports Network) on the back of a much-needed bye week after the tough loss in Montreal the week prior.

Philly tied 2-2 against lowly Seattle last time out and are set to be missing a few defenders due to injury and suspension. Both teams play each other twice over the next seven days. Here are some things to look for from a tactical perspective.

Philly’s makeshift back line – Fire must take advantage - part 1

The Union come into this game missing starting right back Sheanon Williams and it appears former Fire player Bakary Soumare will get the start at center back for the first time all season.

WATCH: Match Preview

This major reshuffle combined with the Fire being the home team should mean Frank Klopas’ side will be set up to attack Philly whenever possible. Williams is a loss on the right, not only for his defensive play but also his long throw ability which can be used as an offensive threat.

Filling in for Williams should be usual left back Raymon Gaddis. Gaddis looked particularly uncomfortable against New England in the Union’s last away match in April, with the youngster getting caught out by balls in behind on a few occasions.

He was also exposed when put under pressure. The Revs wingers had luck getting the ball in the box from Gaddis’ side and with this in mind, I expect to see Joel Lindpere and Gonzalo Segares getting forward and attacking Gaddis whenever possible.

Philly’s makeshift back line – Fire must take advantage - part 2

Ironically, last season’s match against the Union saw Bakary Soumare play his first and only game of the 2012 season for the Union. In that match, the Fire looked to get in 1v1 situations with the rusty defender and it paid off, with MacDonald beating Soumare before crossing for a Chris Rolfe tap in goal. This weekend’s game plan should be no different with Soumare not playing in a match since the game last August.

The Men in Red will also look to force Soumare out of the middle to cover on the outside, something no centerback likes to do. Presumed starting wingers Patrick Nyarko and Joel Lindpere will be relishing 1v1 opportunities with the big defender.

Another area to test Soumare will be in the air. New England was able to win the ball in the aerial battle on numerous crosses into the Philly box, partially because of the hesitancy of goalkeeper Zac MacMath to come and challenge them.

A new center back pairing combined with a sometimes hesitant goalkeeper can lead to defensive errors and one such error could be decisive on Saturday afternoon.
 

WATCH: Athletico Coaching Corner

Stopping the Philly attack - be ready for different combinations

When one looks at the Philly attack this season, it is easy to get distracted by the exploits of 20-year-old Jack McInerney who has notched six goals already for the Union this season.

He picked up April’s Player of the Month award and is playing the best soccer of his young career. Beyond McInerney, the Union have three excellent strikers who bring different playing styles to the table.

Veteran Conor Casey has played up front with McInerney in recent matches and has combined well with the man 11 years his junior. Both strikers are very fluid, dropping deep, moving out to the wing or playing in the advanced striker role and switching at a moment's notice.

It is much easier to prepare for what you presume to be the starting strikers will be. The challenge in Saturday's game will be the adjustments the coaching staff make if and when the Union decide to bring on some attacking substitutions.

Antoine Hoppenot and Sebastian Le Toux have started from the bench in recent matches but both have a tendency to make a big impact once brought on. Le Toux is very good with the ball at his feet and he can easily play in the second striker role, allowing McInerney to permanently move higher up the pitch.

Hoppenot scored four goals off the bench last season and has come off the bench in all but one game this season. If Le Toux does come on, dropping presumed center-mid starter Daniel Paladini a bit deeper to reduce the space Le Toux has to operate in is an option.

In-game adjustments are not often talked about but can often be the difference between three points and one.

Prediction: 2-1 Fire with goals from Nyarko and Lindpere
 

 

09 May 1:46 pm

If you follow him on Twitter or Instagram, you'll know Fire midfielder Daniel Paladini is a social butterfly.

Instead of talking to him in 140 characters, why not join him live for a Google+ Hangout Friday afternoon?

Daniel will begin taking your questions at 12:15pm CT but you can begin asking him questions for the chance to win

- 2 FREE Premier tickets to Saturday's match vs. Philadelphia Union

- 2 FREE tickets to next Thursday's Art of Futbol event

- A team-signed Chicago Fire ball.

Submit your questions in the comments section below, on our Facebook or Google+ pages, or by tweeting #AskPaladini!

29 April 10:10 am

Select shots from the Fire's match vs. the Montreal Impact

 

CREDIT: USA Today Sports Images

 

26 April 9:25 am

The Fire head to Canada on Saturday to face the Montreal Impact (3:00pm CT LIVE on NBC Sports Network and La Ley 107.9 FM) on the back of their best performance of the season last weekend against Columbus.

The Impact rested quite a few players in the 2-0 Canadian Cup loss to Toronto at midweek but can jump back to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a win. Here are some things to look out for from a tactical perspective…

More changes a right back – Pause or Videira to get the start?

Johnson, Anibaba Preview Montreal

With the retrospective ban handed down to Wells Thompson, the Fire will need to make yet another change at right-back for Saturday.

Arne Friedrich’s continued absence means Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry will continue at center back, so the battle for the open spot is between Logan Pause and Mike Videira.

The latter played very well in that position away to Kansas City where the Fire got men behind the ball and held out for a 0-0 draw.

It could be argued that Videira could have held on to the right-back spot based on that KC performance if he didn’t get sidelined with a concussion late in the match.

READ: Thompson "disappointed" but accepts suspension vs. Montreal

Logan is certainly the more experienced of the pair but if he is moved to right back it would break up the three-game run the captain has had in central midfield with Jeff Larentowicz which has paid dividends of late.

Many fans were upset at Frank Klopas’ decision to drop Daniel Paladini last week (which turned out to be a stroke of genius) but shifting Logan to right back would make room for Paladini to move back into the starting eleven.

Playing away against a team with excellent wingers will require whoever Klopas chooses on the right to be very disciplined and with players like Pause and Videira, we are spoilt for choice.

Pressuring the Montreal backline – don’t let them play out of the back

Under new coach Marco Schällibaum, Montreal like to play the ball out of the back whenever possible. This can be problematic, especially when the opposing teams pressure the defenders and goalkeeper when they have the ball.

On a number of occasions this season, Montreal has been too casual when playing the ball out of the back which resulted in great opportunities for the other team. In some matches, even goalkeeper Troy Perkins was caught out trying to pass the ball to one of his defenders instead of just clearing it out of danger.

Because the Fire are playing away, they will almost certainly play on the counter attack, but if the attacking players like Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald can hound the Impact defense, it could result in a chance from a turnover.

Stifling Di Vaio – cutting of the supply to the frontman

Athletico Coaching Corner with Mike Matkovich

Montreal play with one striker, namely 36-year-old striker Marco Di Vaio. The Italian is not as mobile as he was in his younger days and he relies on his wide and attacking midfielders to get him the ball.

Montreal’s wealth of attacking midfielders like ex-Fire winger Justin Mapp, MLS veteran Davy Arnaud and the extremely influential Brazilian Filipe are very difficult to control and when you add Di Vaio playing off the shoulder of the last defender to that mix, it makes it even harder to contain.

Though he lacks pace, the Italian gets himself into great positions and makes very smart runs off the ball. Against the Fire, Montreal will try and get the ball wide to players like Arnaud and Mapp because the Klopas’ side will pack the midfield when they are not in possession.

This means the Fire must be wary of Di Vaio’s movement in the box and also the late runs by other midfielders who will also be looking to get on the end of a cross.

Prediction: 2-1 Fire with a counter attack goal from Sherjill MacDonald and a goal from a corner by Austin Berry.

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

24 April 3:10 pm

Big props go to Austin Berry this week after a sterling performance versus Columbus.

Austin did a great job containing the crew's offensive strength, and he just missed bagging his first goal of the season by about a half an inch.

For his efforts Austin has earned a spot on the MLS Team of the Week. This is his first on the year, and the third of his career. Congrats Austin!

22 April 1:41 pm

Some of the best tweets in the lead-up to, during and after Saturday's 1-0 victory over the Columbus Crew...

A Tweet View of #CHIvCLB

Some of the best tweets in the lead-up, during and after Saturday's 1-0 victory over the Crew

Storified by Chicago Fire Soccer Club· Mon, Apr 22 2013 11:22:55

Make their yellow hearts bleed RED. #cf97 v. Cbus. 7:30 @ Toyota Park. #fbEric J. Kekeis
"Senores yo soy del Fire y tengo awante!" Happy Game Day! #cf97Becky R. Guerrero
Columbus, Wells Thompson will cure you of your wickedness. #cf97Anthony Galante
It's gonna be a hot time in the ol' town tonight! FIRE! FIRE! FIRE! #cf97Joel Huber
Shout out to all the fans who come early for some tailgating before our game #cf97Daniel Paladini
All business tonight.. @Section8Chicago GET LOUD! @ChicagoFire THREE POINTS! #cf97 #letsdothisRaul Contreras
#cf97 Starting XI vs. @ColumbusCrew: Johnson; Thompson, Anibaba, Berry, Segares; Nyarko, Pause ©, Larentowicz, Lindpere; Rolfe, MacDonaldChicago Fire
Paladini not starting? #cf97Andrew Shnay
Not a surprising call from coach Klopas to go for the more attack-minded Nyarko over Paladini. #Crew96 left side is weak defensively #cf97Stephen Piggott
Teams coming out of the tunnel now. #cf97 #MLS #CHIvCLBChiFireMatch
Sean Johnson is a man. He don’t need no coat.#cf97Ruben Tisch
Every Fire fan's favorite official, Chris Penso, in the house tonight... #cf97Anthony Zilis
And we're off here at Toyota Park!ChiFireMatch
COME ON YOU MEN IN RED #cf97JPG
Columbus appeared to have struck first early, but goal is waved off. 0-0 here early at Toyota Park #cf97ChiCitySports.Com
12': Viana tackled hard by #cf97's Thompson at midfield. After conversation with ref, Thompson issued a yellow.Columbus Crew
Hard challenge from Thompson. But it's a man's game. Yellow card right call #cf97Suvat
Both #cf97 outside backs sitting on cautions after 13 minutes of play... Not a warm fuzzy feeling there. #CHIvCLB #MLSJeff Crandall
What a beautiful tackle on Dom from @pattyberron! #cf97kornkid15
All the things you do to me and all the things you say I just cant get enough I just cant get enough #cf97Myrrd God
HALFTIME! #cf97 and #Crew96 locked at 0-0 going into the locker room. #CHIvCLB #MLSChiFireMatch
A rough opening gives way to a pretty boring affair. Nothing tidy about this match. #Crew96 #cf97WrongSideOfThePond
0-0 at half time, zero shots on target. It's been poor and that's an understatement. #CHIvCLB #cf97 #mlsNeil Sherwin
And the second half is underway.ChiFireMatch
46': #cf97's MacDonald gets a quick chance but his low shot went right at Gruenebaum for the save.Columbus Crew
Arrrgghhhhhhhh #cf97Chicago Fire WUFC
The Hebrew Hammer foils Sega. #CHIvCLB #cf97On The Fire
And now Nyarko stopped. Ok, one of these has to go in. #cf97Ryan Sealock
Nyarko putting this team on his back? Another great run up the right. Rolfe's gotta put it on frame though. #cf97Jeff Crandall
Patrick Nyarko is right now what former head coach Dave Sarachan would call "a handfull." #cf97Chris 'Coz' Costello
66' - #cf97 freekick 25 yards from goal. Rolfe and Larentowicz over the ball. Rolfe plays to Larentowicz but his shot goes out for a throw.ChiFireMatch
did that just happen? #cf97Patrick
Larentowicz with what is somehow only the SECOND worst shot of the night #CHIvCLB #cf97Douglass Perry
WHY ARE WE NOT WINNING!?!?! #cf97Dustin Simons
75' - Nyarko's cross finds Berry at the top of the six but his header is saved off the line by Gruenebaum.ChiFireMatch
Austin Berry with a header on frame! A miraculous save by Gruenbaum! #CHIvCLB #cf97On The Fire
Are the gods not smiling on us tonight? Gruenebaum with a ridiculous save on Berry's header. #cf97Jeff Crandall
75' SAVE AGAIN for Gruenebaum. Another 75th-minute save for Andy.Columbus Crew
That was superb play and a fantastic save from Gruenebaum. Come on Fire! #cf97Suvat
C'MON BOYS!!!!!!!!! #cf97FIRExNECK
83' - FIRE GOALLLLLLLLLLL! Anibaba with the long throw is flicked on by Berry and headed in to goal by Jeff Larentowicz! #cf97 1 - 0 Crew.ChiFireMatch
Ggggoooooaaaallll!!!!! #cf97 #chicagofire #mls vine.co/v/bUP1vME1QprChad Berkobien
FIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRE! GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! #cf97Steve Sanders
Beautiful! #cf97Paul Henricksen
Ze Jerry Berry to Big Red. Header to Header. #CHIvCLB #cf97On The Fire
BIG RED! #cf97 Ok Jeff, I guess we can like you now.Nico C.
At least there's ONE Chicago team that's winning. #Fire #cf97Edison Castañeda
87' - #cf97 substitution as Daniel Paladini enters for Patrick Nyarko.ChiFireMatch
87' - Yellow card issued to Daniel Paladini.ChiFireMatch
Fastest. Yellow. Ever. #cf97Lucas Hammer
And that's full time! Your Men in Red win a hard-fought match, defeating the Crew 1-0.ChiFireMatch
That was a beautiful game! #cf97Joanna Gregson
Phew I can go to bed now 03:32 in Scotland up for work in 2 hours but worth it to c FIRE get 3 points woohoo dedication #cf97 night guysTony Wilson
That was easily one of the most satisfying #cf97 matches I've seen in a very long time. Finishing is still an issue, but damn.Paolo Cisneros
That felt good. Real good #cf97Stephen Piggott
Been very busy today at an AMA conference today but I was stoked to get this text #cf97 pic.twitter.com/pdRDS6AgjsNik Bajaj
Big Red Jeff Larentowicz does not quit: soc.cr/kgeSK #cf97MLS Insider
Columbus, ya burnt. #cf97 vine.co/v/bUP6YpJn2x6Eva Hall
Tequila now has 2 goals when sung at TP. We've got a goooooooooooood thing going. #cf97 #YellowSucksRed Dawn Hornline
Just looked at the final stat sheet. Second-half attempts on goal: 16-2 in favor of Chicago and 21-3 overall. #crew96 #cf97Adam Jardy
So the @ChicagoFire are the only pro team that won today in Chitown sportslandia? #cf97 @ESPNChiFireKirsten Tautfest
Great win for Fire nation tonight. Thanks for all the support and good to see my @UofLmenssoccer team up here #cf97Austin Berry
Body aches, head hurts, but damn it feels good to win! #cf97Ricardo
Well done guys. Very important win tonight. Thanks to our great fans for support! @ChicagoFire @Section8ChicagoArne Friedrich
Massive 3 pts tonight good shift by the boys tonight @Section8Chicago #SectorLatino and all #cf97 fans thank you for your supportDaniel Paladini
Just to clarify I didn't throw an elbow I just simply used him to catapult me up to the ball, he was a bit bigger than me Daniel Paladini
Cry not, Chicago. #cf97 took care of business, and beat the ORIGINAL Suburb of Detroit. #FireLou Uhler
No milk- just ice cream! RT @JefeCrandall: Sean Johnson might have had the easiest clean sheet of his life... No saves needed tonight. #cf97DaliaZ
Celebrating the goal with my brother @wellsthompson #cf97 instagram.com/p/YYCfMdwbCU/Jalil Anibaba
Our Fire #cf97 has warmed this cold spring night!!!"@ChicagoFire a 1-0 victory: RECAP: soc.cr/kgfR8 #CHIvCLB”Paolo Tornaghi