Blog

Player

02 August 8:23 am

The Fire head east to Philly on Saturday night to take on the Union in a critical Eastern Conference clash (LIVE 6:30pm CT on My50). After earning a credible come-from-behind draw in Houston last weekend, the Men in Red will be confident of picking up all three points (and extracting some revenge) at PPL Park.

Here are some things to keep an eye on from a tactical perspective.

Isolating Jeff Parke – getting behind and in 1v1 situations with the Union defender

Similar to the Fire, individual errors have cost the Union in recent matches and veteran defender Jeff Parke has been the weak link in the Union defense over the past few MLS games.

Though excellent in the air, his positioning errors or slack marking led to numerous chances created for the opposing team. In both matches against Chivas and Houston, Parke was either forced or strayed out of position, leaving room behind him to be exploited.

READ: Duka, Alex look healthy for Philadelphia clash

With the ability of Magee and Rolfe to drop into deeper positions to pick up the ball and thus drag defenders like Parke out of position, the other Fire players must recognize these opportunities when they arise and try and take advantage of them.

Staying with the runners – trying to limit giving up preventable goals

In soccer, there is a major difference between giving up a 30 yard screamer and giving up a tap in because a defender decided to switch off and not follow his runner.

 

WATCH: Athletico Coaching Corner

All too often for the Fire this season giving up easy goals and frequently going a goal behind has been the teams M.O.  Fire center back Bakary Soumare has made more than one costly error over the past month, most recently on the Dynamo goal last weekend and the center-back will be looking for a solid performance against his old club on Saturday.

With that being said, the defense as a whole has been guilty of individual errors which has meant that the team’s last clean sheet in league play was nine games ago, twelve if you count all matches. As I have mentioned in previous previews, a clean sheet, especially in an away game, would be a major positive for the Fire.

Against a team with such attacking threats as Philly, a clean sheet would also give the back line confidence heading into the biggest game of the season to date, the U.S. Open Cup Semifinal against D.C. on Wednesday (TICKETS).

Taking advantage of the diamond system – pressuring Philly in their defensive third

The Union usually use a system similar in some ways to the Fire, deploying only one recognized defensive midfielder. In Philly’s case this is stalwart Brian Carroll.

Carroll plays in the “Makelele role,” sitting in front of the back four, breaking up attacks and rarely venturing into the opposing team’s attacking third. In this system, the assumption is that Carroll will not give up possession or be ahead of the ball in his defensive third.

READ: Mike Magee is the cover boy in the latest edition of MLS Overlap

One way to counter this system is to pressure Carroll and the Philly defenders when they have the ball and try and force turnovers in their defensive third.

We all saw how effective this tactic can be on the Fire’s goal last weekend. Patrick Nyarko stole the ball from a Dynamo defender before bursting into the box and crossing to Mike Magee for a tap in finish. A similar turnover on Saturday night could lead to the winning goal for the Fire.

Prediction: 2-0 Fire with goals from Magee and Alex.

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

30 July 9:24 am

Fire forward Mike Magee is soaking in this week's MLS All-Star festivities in Kansas City and really why shouldn't he?

After 11 seasons in MLS, the league's joint-leading goal scorer is the longest tenured player on this year's All-Star roster to be making his first appearance in the mid-summer classic. 

On Monday, Magic Mike joined fellow MLS All-Stars Will Johnson of Portland and Patrice Bernier of Montreal and host Nick Firchau on ExtraTime Radio to have a frank discussion about how they see the league in 2013, the dumbest questions they receive from reporters, Mike's sincere avoidance of Twitter and the honor of taking part in this year's game.

Listen here.

28 July 1:07 am
Quote Sheet
Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo
BBVA Compass Stadium – Houston, Texas – July 27, 2013
 
Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire Head Coach
 
Thoughts on the match
 
“We talked about our ability now in this stretch and to be able to get points on the road. You’re playing against a very good team, difficult place, it’s not easy here, but in the second half I felt that both teams, we had some chances, but I felt also late in the game both teams had some quality looks. The goalkeepers came out big. For us, I think, on the road, we showed a lot of character, but also, from our keeper Paolo [Tornaghi], he needed those saves to come up big and he did, but also I though Tally did too with some of the chances we had.”
 
What has sparked the change within the team
 
“Definitely different confidence within the team. I think the mentality is different, the start was definitely tough for us. Losing Arne Friedrich right before our first game wasn’t easy, so I needed a guy to replace. I feel that with additions of Mike Magee and [Bakary Soumaré] and the results we’ve gotten, it’s a different mentality within the group. There is a lot of confidence, so it’s a tough stretch for us right now, I mean second half of the season, you’re playing a lot of teams within your own conference and it’s going to be tight. There is so much parity within the league, I think what we didn’t do in the first half of the season we have to do much better the second half on the road, pick up points and win at home. This was a good start and we have to regroup now. We have a tough away game against Philadelphia next week, so it doesn’t get any easier.”
 
On the impact of Mike Magee
 
“He’s got a lot of quality and he’s a smart player, but he does a lot of little things also besides scoring that help the team out. He’s been fantastic for us, so has [Bakary Soumaré]. I just think as a team we’re in a different place right now and we have a lot to play for. Both of those additions have been big, but I think everyone else has stepped up and I think we have everyone healthy right now and I think that is a positive thing for the team.”
 
Update on the injury to Alex
 
“He got a knock, it happened in the game on the ankle, he came out. He was having a good game in the middle, but listen it’s all about the team and things like that happen and guys have to be able to get in the game and help and that’s what a team is for. You have to rely on everyone and the guys that came in Danny [Paladini] and Logan [Pause] came in and I felt left it all on the field, and that’s what you want and ask for.”
 
Paolo Tornaghi, Chicago Fire Goalkeeper
 
Thoughts on the match
 
“It’s good for us coming here. I think the environment here is very difficult to play [in], so we are happy.  All the statistics say that [Houston] is tough and we did our best and we are going home with a point.”
 
Game plan coming into the match
 
“Well we knew that this team is very strong in statistics and putting [the ball in] the box and try to win the first, the second, the third ball. I think to challenge, to fight, and it’s what we tried to do and I think we did well, so that’s why we had the goal and a good game.”
 
Importance of this match in the standings
 
“It’s a crucial moment of the season. We have to come back from another positive position in the standings, so we have to keep going and maybe in one month, be in the right spot that we have to be in the playoffs.”
 
Mike Magee, Chicago Fire Forward
 
Thoughts on the match
 
“It’s huge, especially playing in Houston, which is close to impossible to get any points in and in the fashion that we did it, I thought was pretty good. We obviously give up a goal again, but to fight back and even get a chance or two to get the win, that is a great point.”
 
Getting the equalizer so quickly
 
“It is always important to get the equalizer. It is good to get it quick because they’re a team that tends to, you know, once they get one, they start pounding on you. They’re not a team that scores one and sits back, so it had the potential to be a very long end of the game, so to get the one back quick is massive.”
 
Importance of the result going forward
 
“It’s just we’re hard to beat. No matter what happens it’s a big step for us. We have been kind of looking for a result like this. We have beaten some teams that aren’t in the playoff hunt and we lost to Kansas City, we barely tie Portland, so to come into Houston and get a point like this is definitely a statement.”
 
Houston Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear
 
Thoughts on the match
 
“A little bit of a frustrating night. Scored a great goal then gave up a softie and then we had some chances to go back ahead and it didn’t happen. [We were] looking at three [points], we get one, but I can’t fault the guys’ effort.”
 
The importance of this match
 
“This game was important. I say this time and time again, but maybe people don’t take me seriously: every game for me is a big game. I don’t have to say ‘well this is a big game because of this, because of that.’ All these underlying themes and goals; the main goal will always be to win the game. I know what New England did tonight, I know what the other teams did, I know where we’re at we have game in hand, et cetera. You want to win three points no matter if it’s home, if it’s Columbus, or New England or even tonight against Chicago. The aim is always to get three [points]. We want to be higher than where we are in the conference and we know it’s going to take wins to do that.”
 
On Cam Weaver’s performance
 
“I thought he was good. I thought he was due for a goal. He’s had his chances along the way, and I’m sure he’s frustrated at times but he was a big part of what we were trying to do tonight. We were trying to get some balls wide, get balls in the box, and I think he had clear off the line in a corner kick. He had a kick in the first half….held the ball well for us, put himself in the right spot for his goal. Happy for him. He works hard everyday. I think he works on his finishing. He wants to be on the field. He wants to make a positive impact, and tonight I’m happy for him.”
 
On the physicality of the match
 
“I just think there was a lot of stoppages. I mean they never really got a good flow in the first-half. Obviously as the game got tied, there was time wasting as we’ve seen before and it slows the game down. But, what can you do? I didn’t think it was overly physical, I thought. I think every game is physical. I don’t think any game in MLS is over the top. I don’t think any team comes out and is dirty. I think teams try and play the right way, try to play physical. It was just two teams tonight. So, just pretty much a standard game for me.”
 
Houston Dynamo forward Cam Weaver
 
Thoughts on the match
 
“Disappointed with only getting one point, I think we the amount of chances we had we definitely should be getting three points. That’s the way I feel right now.”
 
On getting the goal
“I think it’s been a while, so I’m definitely happy to get that goal. I had a few chances tonight, and I happened to get one. It would’ve been a lot nicer in a victory, but hopefully that’s one of more to come.”
 
Houston Dynamo defender Bobby Boswell
 
Thoughts on the match
 
“It was frustrating. You work so hard to get a goal and then you kind of give up a softie. We just didn’t finish a lot of our other chances. We had one called back that probably shouldn’t have been, but sometimes that’s how your night goes. I mean nothing really goes your way, so good for Cam, happy for him, he’s worked so hard to get to where he is and for him to score hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.”
 
On their place in the standings
 
“We were aware coming into the game what was going on. We always kind of look at it throughout the year. I’ve said it from the beginning, last year was just a matter of one point, I think. So, we understand that. It just went against us last night. From the game Wednesday, to the field, to the refs on one call, to us shooting ourselves in the foot, so a lot to be learned, a lot from ourselves on the field and some of our guys off the field too you know. But, like I said it comes down to the guys on the field getting the job done. I mentioned all those other things, but at the end of the day it comes down to the eleven guys that are out there playing. We had our chances. A tie is not the worst thing, but obviously we wanted a win. But, we can’t really harp on it too much. We’re going to look at what we did on the goal and talk about some communication issues, but we’ve got to get ready for Columbus now.”
 
Houston Dynamo goalkeeper Tally Hall
 
Thoughts on the match
 
“Obviously fairly disappointed. It’s a game we should win. It’s a game we can win. Obviously to give up a goal right after you score one, I think it comes down to a mental lapse, and we need to do a better job defensively of holding onto the lead. And it starts once they kick the ball off and it didn’t take them long to get an equalizer. So, it’s very disappointing to us.
 
I don’t think anything was going against us that doesn’t happen in any other game. Fouls go both ways and maybe it’s offside, maybe it’s onside, it doesn’t matter. Those things happen every single game.”
 
25 July 9:10 am

Joel Lindpere continues to get big ups for his one goal, two assists performance in Saturday's 4-1 win over D.C. United as the Estonian international was named to the FIFA 13 Ultimate Team of the Week today!

Congrats Joel!

24 July 12:56 pm

I’ve always thought it odd that sports falls into the category of entertainment business. Sure people pay to watch it, same as all entertainment, and there are “actors”, agents, venues and all that. But when you’re emotionally attached, soccer feels like more than merely entertainment. “Entertainment” feels a little shallow, I think of county fair tents, while sports can feel like everything in the world.

Take the idea of “Sport”: Roman, high, physically extreme, competition; and the idea of “Entertainment”: Amusement, fun, pleasure.

But it’s not fair to separate the two quite so fast. I did a Twitter search for “R Kelly tears” after his highly lauded Pitchfork set on Sunday night and remembered that in music, too, people live for what happens on stage. You get caught up with performers and players, you put your expectations on them, you live through them, and when they stand up and return everything in performance, the exaltation is real and thorough and spiritual.

The word performance is interesting. We say players “perform” well (or not) the same way we do about musicians and actors. I suppose the main difference between performing and just, well, doing something, is that performances require an audience. And it’s the audience that makes the show, right? Nobody believes in your work unless you do it in front of a crowd, and the Pope in the woods isn’t selling tickets.

Something about those moments in a performance, when players and audience are one, when expectations are met and then exceeded, time speeds up and slows down, the moment stretches out into something like a feeling, and everything is right again. Whether it’s a band onstage or a team on a field, those encores, those goals, they make us bigger.

Performances are entertainment, and injecting competition into performances only makes them more so. A friend once told me that she had no problem going to youth swim meets; she found them entertaining because she just liked to watch races.

So among all the clamor this weekend about fancy players in town for Pitchfork and the Fire readying to bring in a new Designated Player, the team hosted a D.C. side Saturday night that is absolutely reeling. And the Fire handled business. The most “entertaining” factor in it all, though, was seeing Chris Rolfe grab a couple goals. 

 
 
 

I mean, your sister loves Chris Rolfe, we all love Chris Rolfe (you saw his cute reaction to Section 8’s song for him after his first goal, right?), and he was in desperate need for some goals because, let’s face it, you can’t make a career playing up top and not scoring in this league. And it’s not like he wasn’t trying, he leads the team in shots, we see his work rate game after game, but now it looks like Rolfe is finally starting to get in that rhythm where the goal looks all big and goalies are just annoying impediments. His finishes have that quick, confident feel about them again.

It was cathartic to see the elation after his first goal, right in front of Section 8. Rolfe’s been at it for a while, he’s been on more than a few tours, and we all want him to succeed and meet the expectations we put on him. It’s the life of a performer, I guess, to have to deal with not only the usual pressure one puts on oneself, or that a coach puts on, but to face the crowd’s expectations too. Like R. Kelly did on Sunday, and like all great performers, Rolfe stepped up in the moment and made it something bigger, something that we could all share in, and that’s entertainment at its best.

 

 

24 July 11:23 am

MLS Player of the Week, Goal of the Week nominee, the accolades just keep on coming for Chris Rolfe, but why not? His fourty-fifth minute brace completing goal from Joel Lindpere's perfect placement can only be described with one word... Sick.

That's why MLSsoccer.com's Greg Lalas breaks it down in this week's Anatomy of a Goal.

23 July 1:41 pm

Join Daniel Paladini, Gonzalo Segares, and Patrick Nyarko next Thursday July 25th from 6-8pm at Molly’s Cupcakes located at 2536 N. Clark Street in Lincoln Park.

Come by and see the Men in Red serve up your favorite cupcakes including the “Chicago Fire Velvet Swirl”. For each Fire Swirl cupcake sold, $1 will go back to the Chicago Fire Foundation.

Molly’s will match all tips collected during the evening with proceeds benefiting the Chicago Fire Foundation.

21 July 2:32 pm

Select shots from the Chicago Fire Season Ticket Holder Meet the Team event.

21 July 12:21 am
Quote Sheet
Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United
Toyota Park – Bridgeview, Ill. – July 20, 2013
 
Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire Head Coach
 
On what came together tonight and the team’s momentum
 
“The difference tonight was just finishing our chances. We had chances the last game and it was important how we would respond. So I think this was a crucial game we were playing, regardless of where this team is in the standings. They have quality players and you can’t underestimate anyone and I felt that the fast goals helped. We had chances, we put the chances away, and we defended very well as a team. We did very well as a team and I give a lot of credit to my players for the effort, the attitude they put into the game and their commitment over 90 minutes. I think this is a crucial part for us in the season, the next six weeks there are a lot of games we need to pick up points to be in that race and then we also have an opportunity in the semi final Open Cup game to be one step closer to where we can be playing for a championship, to win that trophy. It’s a crucial month, six weeks, and its important now at home to get points and also find a way to get points on the road. It was a great effort by the group today.”
 
On Joel Lindpere’s play tonight
 
“We started him at Columbus and he did the same. It’s about the team, I just felt that everyone had a good performance, they played well, and we won as a team today and that’s what it’s all about. We have talked throughout the season about guys needing to [perform] when the opportunity comes and Joel is an experienced guy. I had no problem. I have 100 percent confidence in Joel when he comes into the game and his work rate and all that stuff he showed tonight. It was a very good performance by the team and I give credit to the team so we need to obviously move forward. It was an important win for us and now we have to regroup and get ready for a top match next week because this game is over. We have to prepare for the game in Houston now.”
 
On Dilly Duka’s leaving the game and Quincy Amarikwa coming in for him
 
“At halftime Dilly [Duka] didn’t really say anything and when I came out they were warming up and preparing for the second half and he said that he had an issue with his hamstring or his groin, we will have to see tomorrow. Quincy [Amarikwa], that decision, we knew scoring the third goal, we knew that they were going to push the game. Both the goals came on a break for us and we felt that with his pace, they were trying to push the game and get back into it. We knew we would have space to play into depth. He is a guy that brings energy, his work rate, and his pace to get behind helps. Moments like that he’s been good and he’s played well, not only the times he’s come in, but also in the reserve matches. I think that is positive for him and also for the rest of the guys.”
 
On if any reserve player is really standing out
 
“We just have to see. Obviously [this week] we don’t have a mid-week game we just have to really see with injuries more than anything and see how guys are feeling through this week.”
 
On the challenges of integrating a player while maintaining team chemistry
 
“I think it’s important when you bring a guy in that he fits in with the group, that he can adapt quickly and it’s all about the team. That player has to realize that he has to sacrifice and do anything he can for the team. For us, that’s the most important thing when we bring a guy in.”
 
On Chris Rolfe’s performance
 
“It was great. I thought Chris [Rolfe] had opportunities last game and I think both goals were great finishes, and I think his movement was very good. The first ball that Joel [Lindpere] played to him, his movement; it was just a fantastic goal. The second one also came on a break through ball and his finish [was great]. Chris has that kind of quality. I think more than anything today, besides his goals, his work rate was fantastic. You can play him out wide he’s willing to do the work. When you have him on top he’s very dangerous, he’s a very technical player. And when you get him around the goal he makes plays like that. I think that the goals and his movement today was fantastic and I was very happy for him to rebound from last week and some of the opportunities he’s had.”
 
Chris Rolfe, Chicago Fire forward
 
On his first goal:
 
“I think our combination play was really good tonight, we had a lot of three men combinations and the timing was on for the most part. I got behind a few times, Mike [Magee] got in once and Dilly [Duka] was beating his guy – it was a good first half in particular.”
 
On converting an early opportunity for a goal:
 
“It helps the whole team.  We have all been talking about how important it was for us to score first, and then we ended up getting the second one in the first 15 minutes – that changes the whole outlook of the game for us.”
 
On Joel Lindpere’s performance:
 
“Joel [Lindpere] had a great game coming in again after not playing in the last couple. He is really stepping up and helping the team, I’m happy for him.”
 
On Lindpere’s off-field contributions:
 
“Like most of the guys in this locker room, he’s had a great team spirit, he’s been very positive and that helps. It shows when he comes in tonight and does a great job.”
 
On the potential of the team bringing in another striker and its affect on his performance:
 
“It doesn’t affect it at all.  If anything it’s exciting.  I hope they do bring in another guy if it’s going to help the team win.  I think it’s important for any team or organization to bring talent in to make us more competitive.”
 
Joel Lindpere, Chicago Fire Midfielder
 
On his performance tonight
 
"Wednesday, in the reserve game I gave an assist, last game, in Vancouver, I gave an assist, Columbus I gave an assist, so I think I've been doing my job how I like to do it and how I have to do it. I love to play so if you can enjoy playing, then it’s a good thing."
 
On the difficulties of staying ready when he isn't starting
 
"I don’t know when I didn't play three games from the start. But that means I'm doing my job. I think I've been starting most of my career but that’s the way it is. It's a team game. Like I said, I will try to find myself always to do my job and help the team. It doesn't matter if I start next game or I don’t start, I really hope that we take something for the road trip from this game. We have won only one road game and with the season at this point we have to be smart. For next week we need to concentrate because we don't play at home. Home advantage is so big and we have to get a good start for this game.”

Ben Olsen, D.C. United Head Coach
On the positives from the match:
 
“[The goal] is a bright spot, I suppose.  It was a good goal.  It’s good to get him off the mark.  It was just a day where no one on our team had a good day.”
 
On the team playing better in the second half:
 
“Yes, but it was 3-0 at that point.  It’s easy to have momentum and play with nothing to lose when it’s 3-0.  I’m looking for us to play for nothing to lose from the start.  We learned some lessons tonight.  I think some of our young guys learned a lot tonight, so maybe that’s a positive.  Chicago was very good tonight.  I don’t want to make this about us too much because that would take away from the performance of Chicago.  I thought Rolfe and Magee’s relationship is becoming very clever.  They’re both bright players.  They get it.  They play off each other very well right now.  They are tough to deal with.  We just didn’t have an answer for those two.  And then you give up an early goal, and you’re chasing the game the whole time.  It’s a tough team to chase because the weapons they have up top.  All credit to them.  They were very good tonight.”
 
On facing New England:
 
“We’ll regroup.  We’ve had a lot of losses this year.  We will continue to regroup, and continue to try and get better.  Again, I think the positive is for some of our young guys tonight that went into a tough place to play and learned some lessons.  As long as we can learn from that stuff, I think we’ll move forward.”
 
John Thorrington, D.C. United Midfielder and Captain
 
On the match:
 
“The only positive I see is that I hope we remember what this feels like and I hope it never happens again.  [We played] not good enough.  Didn’t carry out our game plan, not enough guys ready to do what it takes to win a game.  It’s not just coincidence that we won two games this year.  It hurts.  It sucks.  It hurts the coaches, it hurts the players, but it’s no good for us to hurt now, the game is done.  We lost 4-1.  I guess you could say there were some moments where we played well, but when you give up four goals, you just have to play like Barcelona and we didn’t.”
 
On playing games now like the team has nothing to lose:
 
“I don’t see why we aren’t already.  Given where we are in the table, a game should matter more to us more than anybody in the league, so it doesn’t matter who we are playing against, they are above us in the table.  We should be fighting and scrapping for every point get can get at this point.  Tonight wasn’t our night.  I’ve been on a lot of teams in the league, I know this isn’t a bad group of players, I know it’s not a bad coaching staff, I know there is something here but for whatever reason it hasn’t been working.  We’ve showed signs in the last month so maybe we can start a bit of a turn around.  Tonight it’s hard to see a silver lining.”
 
Luis Silva, D.C. United Forward
 
On his goal:
 
“I was asking for the ball and Perry saw me in a good hole, right in the middle.  I knew I had time and space, so why not try it.  I decided to take the shot, and it went in.”
 
On breaking the shut out:
 
“Yes, it was [a relief].  We needed a goal and to stay in the game and we got it.  I think we played well in the second half.”
 
On the team’s play in the second half:
 
“I think we came out really slow and they ran at us.  They got their chances and they put them away.  I think in the second half we came out with more energy, and we felt the game was equal.  We had to take our chances.”
 
On facing New England:
 
“We have the right tools; we just have to put them together.  We have to work as a team, defending as a team, and attack as a team as well.  We know it’s 11 versus 11, and if we do our job, if everyone does their job, we’ll be fine.”