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20 March 9:01 am

If It seems like its Goalkeeper Week here on Chicago-Fire.com, well maybe it is... Sean Johnson is with the U.S. Men's National Team, meaning Paolo Tornaghi is the starter on Sunday, making way for Alec Kann to officially sign with the club on Tuesday in order to back him up.

I got a lot of quotes from goalkeepers (and their coach) the past few days... It'd be a shame if they went to waste so I've included some of the more interesting ones here...

Chicago FIre goalkeeping coach Aron Hyde

On having two returning goalkeepers for the first time since 2009

"Its never easy in MLS with the salary cap to maintain players year-to-year. In previous years we’ve looked to experienced guys to guide Sean along in his development and this year we didn’t need that. We’ve got a very young goalkeeping group – its probably the youngest in the league. Sean’s not a young goalkeeper anymore –he’s at nearly 80 games in his career. We don’t have any issues there anymore. Obviously he can get a little more continuity in the group and Paolo is a good goalkeeper and is more than capable of stepping in. He didn’t let the side down last year and we’re positive and optimistic he’ll do the same on Sunday."

On Alec Kann's attitude as the third goalkeeper

"He’s coming in willing to learn. He has a good attitude, he works hard – you can’t fault him for anything there. He’s a good guy to work with. He’s been good with the other two and you hope he realizes he’s here to push and he wants to play as well. He has to be ready."

Chicago Fire goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi

On communicating with a changing backline

"Its important when everyone steps on the field to have a positive performance. I thought our defensive line was very good on Saturday. We work together every day so to me it doesn’t matter who the first 11 are, all the players train and stay focused to be ready for Sunday."

18 March 9:43 am

Twitter is great for many reasons. Today's its awesome because we got an update on how the team's star center back is doing on his hamstring rehab in Germany...

See you next Tuesday, Arne!

15 March 9:20 am

A nice reminder of June 29, 2012.

The Goal:

The Celebration:

The Despair:

14 March 10:37 am

We're having a lot of fun with GIFs lately. Since its #RivalryWeek in MLS, we thought we'd do one on Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes being mad. 

Also, props to @ricecakeonfire for tweeting me his compilation of the many faces of Peter Vermes:
 

11 March 10:17 am

Fire Homegrown forward Kellen Gulley has headed to Georgia to begin training with the NASL’s Atlanta Silverbacks this week.

Fire head coach Frank Klopas mentioned throughout preseason that the team was looking to send the 18-year-old forward out on loan this year and it appears that the club is working towards an agreement with the second division side.

Signed from the Mississippi Fire Juniors in August 2011, Gulley has yet to make his competitive debut for the club. The potential move should serve him well in gaining playing time as he continues to develop. 

Coached by former FC Dallas head coach Brian Haynes, the Silverbacks open their 2013 NASL Spring campaign vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers on April 13 at Silverbacks Park. 

10 March 1:49 pm

Last night's tifo display from Section 8 Chicago was quite good. In case you missed it, check out this Vine video from user wreckyourworld.

According to ISA Operations Chair Eric Kekeis, "Project Rise" took 70 hours spread over eight days and cost $2000 total.

Check out these two time lapse videos of the whole process from YouTube user qskapunk and be sure to donate to the Section 8 Chicago tifo drive to help fund further tifo and other supporter related activities.

Well done everyone!

10 March 11:42 am

Klopas on 1-0 Loss to New England

 

Nyarko reacts to 1-0 loss to New England

 

Austin Berry on 1-0 loss to New England

 

Gonzalo Segares on 1-0 loss to New England

09 March 3:04 pm

Select shots from Saturday's match vs. New England

 

officialfiresoccer's 3-9-13 Chicago Fire vs New England Revolution album on Photobucket

 

 

08 March 2:11 pm

The Chicago Fire Ticket Sales staff is pulling double duty today to make sure all areas of Toyota Park are safe and clear of snow ahead of Saturday night's home opener vs. New England.

In this edition of Jeff Thoughts, I capture Esteban Canales, Dave Berchem and Raul Luna having some fun at my expense...

Kudos to the Sales Staff for going the extra mile for Saturday's game:

08 March 9:50 am

The Fire suffered a heavy defeat last weekend in Los Angles and are looking to rebound in the best possible way in the team’s home opener against New England on Saturday evening. The Revs have yet to play a game and will hope to shake off the rust and try and spoil the Fire’s first game at home in 2013. Here are some tactical things to look out for:

Handling Bengtson – how will the Fire’s defense contain the target striker?

In last weekend’s loss to LA, the Fire’s defense couldn’t contain Robbie Keane whose movement led to all sorts of problems for the team. Against New England, the defense will face a much different type of striker in Jerry Bengtson, a giant target forward who will likely play up front on his own.

New England have a host of attacking midfielders/wingers that will be looking for layoffs and knockdowns from Bengtson and the Fire’s defense will need to try and stop the Honduran from linking with his teammates.

LA were able to stop Maicon Santos and Shejill MacDonald from holding the ball up at the Home Depot Center last week and if the Fire’s defense can mimic LA’s, the Rev’s could be in a for a long night.

Who plays behind Bengtson? A wealth of attacking options for the Revs

Because New England did not play last week, the Fire will have less of an idea about who will be playing in the attacking positions behind Bengtson on Saturday night.

Though the Rev’s have lost Benny Feilhaber, they still have many options for the second striker/wide midfield roles.  Any combination of Chad Barrett, Andy Dorman, Juan Toja, Ryan Guy and Lee Nguyen could play against the Fire and all five offer something different.

The defense as a unit will be looking for a much improved performance and with Logan Pause and Arne Friedrich’s return unlikely, Saturday gives the back four a chance to redeem themselves against New England.

On the outside, Gonzalo Segares and Jalil Anibaba were caught out a few times with balls in behind them last Sunday and must be aware of players like Nguyen and Toja who look to do that on a regular basis.

Dilly Duka and Patrick Nyarko did a good job tracking back and helping the outside defenders but the emphasis will be on Sega and Anibaba to get forward and put in crosses as every opportunity.

Creating more chances – possession and set pieces

The Fire showed some rust last Sunday, giving the ball away on numerous occasions and completing over 100 less passes than LA with the Men in Red’s pass accuracy at only 74%. Large improvements in that department are certainly needed but the team will also be looking to get more set pieces in the attacking third.

The Fire’s first (of only two) corner kicks didn’t occur until the 60th minute in LA and it almost resulted in a goal for Anibaba after a brilliant cross by Lindpere.

As I mentioned last week, Lindpere’s excellent deliveries from corners and free kicks will create many changes for the team this season. Last week LA started a new goalkeeper and this week, New England may start a new acquisition in the defense Jose Goncalves. The Portuguese newcomer is an experienced defender but as we saw last week, putting balls into a place where it forces the goalkeeper and defender to communicate and make a decision can lead to a mistake and a Fire opportunity.  

The Fire only had one shot on target last week but also had some other excellent chances to score, most notably Rolfe’s scuffed shot after the Cudicini mistake and Maicon’s header just wide of the post. Klopas and co. will be looking for the Fire attackers to test Matt Reis as much as possible.

Prediction: 2-0 Fire with goals from MacDonald and Lindpere

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