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07 August 8:36 am

The Fire head back to Toyota Park Wednesday night for the biggest game of the season to date, a U.S. Open Cup semifinal against D.C. United. Both teams enter the game on the back of wins and knowing they are only 180 minutes away from a CONCACAF Champions League place.

BUY: $12 TICKETS FOR U.S. OPEN CUP SEMIFINAL

With that in mind, league form goes out the window. Here are some things to look out for from a tactical perspective.

Slowing down D.C.’s new attack – avoiding the Silva/DeRo red herring

United Coach Ben Olsen has used the 4-4-1-1 formation for most of this season but due to a number of factors, namely not scoring many goals and a numerous injuries, he is constantly changing his front two.

In last week’s match against Montreal, D.C. started Dwayne DeRosario and Luis Silva to great effect with both players’ movement caused Montreal problems, especially in the first 30 minutes.

Both took turns holding the line while the other dropped deep, making it difficult for the Impact to track. With Silva scoring three goals in his last three matches, it is easy to claim that both he and DeRo are the major threats to the Fire tonight, but that argument is too simplistic.

INFOGRAPHIC: WHY THE FIRE ARE #KINGSOFTHECUP

In reality, both strikers have benefited greatly from some fantastic play from both the wide men and outside defenders in recent matches. Montreal’s lack of high pressure allowed D.C.’s outside defenders to act as auxiliary wingers at times, putting dangerous crosses into the Impact’s box.

With the defenders pushing up high, the wide midfielders were able to tuck inside and support the strikers in the box or pick up great positions just outside it.

For the Fire to be successful tonight, the team must not allow D.C.’s outside defenders to get forward as often as Montreal did. To do this requires a combination of high pressure from forwards such as Mike Magee and Chris Rolfe as well as positive attacking play from the outside mids, which will force D.C.’s defenders to stay back.

Minimizing set pieces – not allowing DC any unearned opportunities

In a cup semifinal, one mistake, or one brilliant piece of skill, can define the outcome. Countless knockout matches have been decided this way and it always leaves the losing team asking why they allowed an avoidable goal to be scored against them.
 

 

WATCH: Athletico Coaching Corner

Playing as the away team and knowing the Fire’s strengths on the counter attack, D.C. will not be flooding players forward needlessly in tonight’s match. When set pieces present themselves however, the Black and Red will be looking to profit.

In the Fire’s last match against Philly, the team played very well defensively but again failed to keep a clean sheet. The Union goal came from a needlessly given up free kick resulting in the ball being bundled over the line.

Fire players must not rush into tackles and need to try and avoid giving up corners whenever possible. D.C. may be lacking in goals this season but giving up a set piece when DeRo is on the field could decide the match in D.C.’s favor.

Quick transitions to the attack – by any means possible

In recent tactical previews, I have lauded Patrick Nyarko for consistently pressuring defenders in the Fire’s offensive third of the pitch and forcing turnovers.

In last weekend’s match against Philly, Paddy did it again, winning the ball and bursting forward before dishing to Mike Magee who smashed in the winner.

Last weekend’s match also demonstrated how quick transitions can come from all areas of the pitch.

READ: 5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ON WEDNESDAY'S U.S. OPEN CUP SEMIFINAL VS. D.C.

Goalkeeper Sean Johnson constantly looked to distribute the ball quickly and launch an attack through his kicking. Whenever Johnson collected the ball from a cross or shot, he looked for outlet runs and was able to pick out those of Rolfe, Magee and co. with his long kicks.

Supersub Quincy Amarikwa also demonstrated how pressuring defenders on long balls can result in turnovers. Late in the game, he challenged Amobi Okugo in the air before stalking the center back and forcing a turnover just outside the Philly box.

But for some better finishing, the Fire would’ve scored a third goal and effectively ended the match. A quick turnover from a player like Nyarko or an accurate kick out from Johnson could open up the DC defense tonight.

Prediction: I have seen the Fire win and lose U.S. Open Cup semifinals and know that games like this are almost always very tight and tense.  1-0 Fire with the goal coming from Patrick Nyarko.

06 August 9:28 am

At Toyota Park in May, Philly sat back, let the Fire run circles around them like some mean, old dog, then got a seemingly innocuous free kick and suddenly Jack McInerney, in on goal, kicked the team straight in the gut. That game felt like a one-act play, where the characters on stage build to an obvious conclusion, some grotesque act that you know is coming but still shocks and hurts when you see it live.

This Saturday, the Fire went to Philly to continue their climb back into the playoff picture and battled in a Three Act work of considerable drama. Each was punctuated by a goal. Here’s the liner notes, starring Philly and Chicago, two mysterious characters.

Act One, The Set-Up (0-45’)

Kick off. Philly comes out first, Chicago wakes up slowly, stretches arms to the sky, makes coffee, realizes it’s in the middle of a game, and immediately pops into action. Philly, who tried to come out with high and tight pressure, find themselves being passed around in sequences of quick one-twos and flicks, like those that lead to a beautiful first goal, with not even 10 minutes gone.

Philly broadcasters (the chorus), clamor for more “intensity” from the home team. The Fire look comfortable but ominously cannot extend their lead. They start to slow down a bit and Philly enjoy a few minutes of confidence-boosting possession at the end of the half, including a couple of dangerous free kicks. The plot thickens.

Halftime.

Act Two, The Montage (45’-54’)

This short intervening act provides the backbone of the drama. A little character development. Fresh off their orange slices, Philly and Chicago come out ready to party again.

Like Act One, Philly threaten first (Conor Casey flashes a shot just wide of goal two minutes in), but Chicago recovers and takes the upper hand. How predictable is this? Chicago finds space everywhere and kick off a few minutes of possession in the opponent’s half like we haven’t seen all season.

Cue montage and “Danger Zone.” A few not particularly interesting forays forward foreshadow something for Philly, but Chicago cruises.

What can go wrong?

Act Three, The Climax (54-90)

The Montage ends. The motorcycle crashes. Le Toux gets in on Chicago’s right and Sean Johnson makes a kick save. Chicago attacks and Rolfe finds enough space to squeeze a shot off - but Zac MacMath tips it over the bar. Go time. Philly go forward and get their goal with 30 minutes left - so much time for both to fight out the end.

Suddenly Philly is everywhere. Sean Johnson makes an impossible save off a corner. Another is cleared off the line. Chicago is wavering badly, Philly is matching Chicago’s dominance from Act Two.

There is no music. Chicago fights with their inner identity battle between the disappointments early in the year and their confidence to close games. (Mike Magee said after the game, “I think there was a point in the 65th minute where we had been getting pummeled the whole half and we all kind of looked at each other and said this game is there for us to win.”)

Two subs come on in the 67th, as Klopas tries to overturn Philly’s momentum.

And then it happens, the climax. Chicago confronts Philly. They continue pressing. The spirit of fight and persistence embodied in Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko combine with harrowing pressure. Nyarko fights the ball loose from a Philly midfielder and plays in Magee. Magee finishes calmly.

Your girlfriend is crying, but there’s still twenty minutes time! The drama carries over but the game is rarely in doubt. A penalty shout scares the audience, so nobody leaves their seats. Then the violin music. A stoppage time kiss at the sunset. Chicago steals the points.

Curtain.

04 August 12:20 am
Quote Sheet
Chicago Fire at Philadelphia Union
PPL Park – Chester, Pa. – August 3, 2013
 
Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire Head Coach
 
On differences between team now and in May
 
“I mean obviously in the beginning we had a difficult start. I think the slow start did hurt us early on. I think the additions with Baky (Soumare) and Mike (Magee) have helped a lot and I think in time, their ability to gel with the rest of the guys has helped. We knew there were a lot of important games coming up and we dropped a lot of points on the road early on so all these games are massive right now and we felt that we played well last time against Philly at home and they scored the late goal with Jack so it was a difficult match, but I give all the credit to my players, they came out, they competed, everyone left everything on the field and we got three points in a difficult place.”
 
On Mike Magee’s performance since joining the Fire
 
“We knew he was a quality player but you see a night like tonight, and that is what a forward has to do. He gets that opportunity, is very composed, he waits for the keeper to go so it was just a class goal. Patrick (Nyarko) made a great pass, but when you get him in spots in front of the goal it is just very good He has been huge for us, but I think more than anything it has been the whole team that contributes and it is all about the team, the mentality is good, everybody is putting everything forward for the success of the team and I think that is what it is all about.”
 
On the turning point in the game
 
“Yeah we knew their ability to do set pieces with Williams with the long throw, they have scored a lot of goals. It is easy to talk about it, but in a game you have to avoid situations like that. They put a lot of pressure, they had a lot of set pieces late in the game, open field crosses and there was some moments late in the game that were not so easy for us, but we knew that going up they were going to push the game and we would have opportunities in transition. We weren’t as good in certain moments to capitalize on that. We had our chances and in the end it was an exciting game, both teams left it all on the field and I just give a lot of credit again to my players in a difficult place against a very good team to come and get three points, it was huge for us.”
 
On the playoff race
 
“It is exciting. It is going to come down to the end, there is so much parity in the league. I think it is going to be exciting; I think there is going to be a fight all the way until the end and I think you couldn’t ask for anything else. Look at this game, how exciting it was, three goals in a game. Both teams up and down created chances and made very exciting for the fans and the atmosphere was super here tonight.”
 
Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire Midfielder
 
Thoughts on the game
 
“We knew it was going to be tough. Their team is a very good team, they are playing very well, their confidence level is through the roof and we knew it was going to take a special effort to get a result here. We made it a point to get a good start and we did that. We sat back a little bit more and made them come at us for a long period of the game. As a home game with how confident they are playing, they got lucky on the goal, but they are always bound to score if we drop off on them and we did that. We wanted to win here so after they got the goal we decided to push on and luckily we got a second goal and we resisted their attack for the last period of the game.”
 
On the magnitude of this win
 
“They are a team we are chasing and we could not let them get away from us. We kicking ourselves in the teeth, we made two errors and they beat us, they took six points out of us. If not for that we are closer to them and we made it a point to get close them in this game.”
 
Mike Magee, Chicago Fire Forward
 
On what made the difference in the game
 
“It wasn’t our best game we obviously gave away a lot of set pieces, which we didn’t want to do, a lot of throw-ins, but we found a way to battle. Sean had a great game and our back line was good and obviously the difference was scoring more goals than them.”
 
On his mindset for scoring
 
“To be honest my mindset is just to always try to get wins. We are on the outside looking in at the playoffs and that is the only goal. The best part about tonight is getting three points.”
 
On his mindset going into his first game in Philly as a Fire player
 
“I have played here before with LA. My mindset is trying to change the culture and try to get in the habits of trying to win games. I think there was a point in the 65th minute where we had been getting pummeled the whole half and we all kind of looked at each other and said this game is there for us to win. They were sending a lot of guys forward and we pretty fortunate not to give up a goal in the beginning of the second half. I think once we weathered that storm the soccer Gods gave us a chance and luckily I buried it.”
 
Team Manager John Hackworth
On whether this was a missed opportunity for separation in the playoff race…
“Yeah I think this is a huge missed opportunity. We knew Chicago would come and give us a really good game, they’re a pretty good team. It was never going to be easy, but to go down a goal and come back and then lose another goal, we felt like we had out foot on the gas a little bit, but losing the way we did was really unfortunate.”
On Mike Magee
“He’s a good player, he brings heat wherever he goes and it’s something to watch for.”
On what he thought about the four straight corners in the second half…
“There’s an advantage to getting opportunity and capturing it and that’s something we need to capture at home. We’ve had good runs, good service in the box. The night was up and down, but on that sequence it was really important that we put ourselves in that position by pushing them more than we did in the first half and that’s a good sign. Especially with a team that’s extremely dangerous moving forward. We were getting chances on the break, but nothing that could help us.”
On what happened with the first goal…
“We just had a lot of guys chasing the ball and a lot of guys trying to compensate with each other after a couple misses. We tried really hard to get the ball, but one of those things we talked about was not letting them have the first pass.”
On why Jack McInerney isn’t scoring…
“There could be a lot of reasons, but real goal scorers have been coming through and it just didn’t seem like the chances were happening.  He’s a very confident man and knows what he wants in play. He also understands how difficult it is.”
On Gaddis’s injury…
“He rolled his ankle really badly. We tried to tape it up on the sideline and get him back in the last three minutes, but it’s just really unfortunate.”
Zac MacMath
 On the match tonight…
"It's a tough one. I don't think the team came out the way we should have in the first half. In the first 30 minutes, we struggled, and they put a lot of pressure on us. A lot of credit goes to them, but I still think that in the last 15 [minutes] of the first half, and in most of the second half, we had the good part of the match, and we were unfortunate to give up two easy goals like that."
On what John Hackworth told the team at halftime…
 "To go back to what we should have done. Outwork them, play smart, play simple, be patient, and let them open up. They started to open up, and the game was very wide open later on when we were pushing for it. We knew a goal was going to come, and we just had to wait for it, and hopefully find the second one. Unfortunately, we didn't."
 On what happened on Mike Magee's game-winning goal…
 "Obviously, Leo [Fernandes] gets picked off in the middle of the field, and it's an easy counter for them. They find [Mike] Magee wide open, and he finishes well."
 On the wide-open nature of the game and if it contributed to Mike Magee's goal…
"That's the risk you take. At home, you don't want to give up points, so I think that the team was pushing for it, and that makes the game really wide open. They're a team that likes to counter as it is, and they were looking for that."
On what happened on the first Chicago goal…
"I think it was Joel [Lindpere] who put in a really good ball, and they had a bunch of players in the box. Patrick [Nyarko] found himself wide open. He kind of hit it awkwardly, and he bounced it in. It came off of the turf weird."
Jack McInerney
 On if him being away for Gold Cup and Conor Casey serving a suspension has affected their chemistry…
"No, I don't think that has anything to do with it, really. We've been teammates for seven months now, so it's just about getting that lucky break. We're still playing well and creating chances, we're just not getting anything to fall for us."
 On what the All-Star Game experience meant to him…
"It meant a lot. I grew up watching some of those players play. To play alongside of them, and to spend a couple days with them, it kind of opened my eyes to see what it was like to be there."
 On if the Union missed an opportunity to create separation in the standings tonight…
"Yeah, we were hoping to go on a little three-game win streak. It was a good opportunity, but we have to put this game behind us. We have been pretty inconsistent this year with winning. No one expected us to win in Vancouver, and we would have expected to win today. I think we just have to put it behind us and come out hard against D.C. [United]."
On the series of corner kicks the Union had late and if he thought Philadelphia would score…
 "Those are one of the things where you keep pushing and pushing and eventually it will come. I don't know if it came on a free kick, or something, when Sheanon [Williams] scored, but these things build up and wear the other team down. We wanted more of them."
 On his week of travel to the Gold Cup final and then the All-Star Game…
"Yeah, I went for a two day trip and it ended up being seven days long. It was pretty exciting. It was a lot of traveling, but it was a good experience in both cities."
On his rap video at the All-Star Game…
 "(Laughs) I just walked in, and they asked me to do it. They had it written down, and I just gave it a go. I'm from Atlanta, so I have a little bit in me. I'm better than [Chris Wondolowski] (laughs)."
On if his goal drought has left him frustrated…
"Yeah, it's frustrating. I've been saying that I just need one of those easy tap-ins to get my confidence up and get back in the streak that I was going on. It's one of those things I have to fight through, and the team has to help me get through."
On if he finds himself pressing…
"I think I'm pushing a little too much, just because I know I'm on a streak where I haven't been able to do what I would have done at the beginning of the season. I just need to relax, find a goal, and find that rhythm again."
Sheanon Williams
On how he found the Fire different from the first two meetings this season, beyond Mike Magee…
"They had a little bit more heart. The last few times we played them, they settled for losing. Definitely with the new people that they brought in, they're a different team. They're not the same team that we beat twice."
 On what happened to the defense on Patrick Nyarko's goal…
"We [gave] the ball away in a bad spot. I had the whole defense shift, and we didn't do it properly."
On his goal…
"When you put yourself in good spots, good things happen."
On the defense tonight…
"It seems like we [gave] the ball away way too much. It cost us two goals today, and we have to do a better job of keeping it."
 On the Union's back line pushing forward frequently tonight…
"We're just trying to do what we can to help the team win. We obviously wanted three points. We would have settled for one after going down 2-1. We weren't able to get the goal, so we have to settle for zero."
On the late series of corners the Union had…
"The way I was thinking about it was, 'One of these has to go in.' One got cleared off the line, one got saved and put over the crossbar, and then we had another header. I thought that maybe we would sneak one in."
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 1:12 pm

On Tuesday, July 9, a Chicago Fire fan forwarded a Yahoo! article to owner Andrew Hauptman that included a detailed account of a young fan who wanted to meet soccer superstar Lionel Messi on his birthday only to be left disappointed. 

Upon further digging, it turned out, he wasn’t the only one.  A group of approximately 75 fans had paid a premium for a meet and greet at the July 6 Messi & Friends event at Soldier Field that ultimately didn’t come to be.  Learning more about this group, the Fire owner’s immediate response was to find a way to contact these fans and invite them for a true, VIP experience at an upcoming Chicago Fire game. 

Through a little help from Dirty Tackle’s Brooks Peck, an introduction was made, and then an invite was extended for those fans to be a guest of Andrew’s for last Saturday’s match against D.C. United. And while not everyone could attend, with some traveling from California, DC, Toronto and even as far as England for the original game, the Fire welcomed 16 fans to Toyota Park that night. 

After a quick tour of the Park, a trip on field and even to the locker room, the guests enjoyed the game from the Second Star Club. The 4-1 win over United was the icing on the cake.  Many of the fans were truly grateful for the invitation; calling it a “bright spot in all of this drama.”

One of the families shared this note with the Club after the game:

“…My family and I would like to thank you for yesterday's awesome tickets.  We had such a wonderful time and we won't forget it, ever.  Please thank Mr. Andrew Hauptman for everything that he did for us. This was a beautiful experience.  Looks like we'll be season ticket holders starting next year. Thank you!”

Don’t forget, the Fire is still offering anyone with proof of purchase to the July 6 Messi & Friends event at Soldier Field a 50 percent discount on a ticket to the Aug. 7 Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Semifinal match. All discounted ticket offers must be redeemed at the Toyota Park Box Office only. Inquiries regarding the discount can be directed to 1-888-MLS-FIRE.

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.

 

 

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.