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14 March 9:37 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 9:17 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 12:49 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 10:42 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 2:04 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 1:11 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 8:50 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.

07 March 2:07 pm

 

A little over a year since the Fire/Quaker Oats partnership began and just days before the Chicago Fire challenge the New England Revolution on Opening Night at Toyota Park (Saturday, March 9 at 6:30 p.m. CT live on NBC Sports Network), we stopped by the Quaker Oats headquarters to check-in and see how the club’s iconic jersey partner was preparing for the 2013 season.

From the looks of things, the partnership is really starting to make an impact... 

03 March 9:06 am

As we continue to countdown to kickoff, some facts and figures on the Chicago Fire’s 2013 First Kick Roster…

* The current roster features 26 players with an average age of 24 years, 9 months.

* 19 players return from the Fire team that finished the 2012 season.

* 7 new Fire players have joined the side over the offseason.

* 5 of those players were acquired by in-league movements: Maicon Santos (Re-Entry from D.C.), Joel Lindpere (trade with New York), Jeff Larentowicz (trade with Colorado), Dilly Duka (trade with Columbus), Quincy Amarikwa (trade with Toronto FC).

GAMEDAY Q&A: 8 Questions with Frank Klopas

*1 of the other players, midfielder Yazid Atouba was the Fire’s lone selection in the 2013 SuperDraft.

* 9 countries are represented: USA, Brazil, Cameroon, Costa Rica, Estonia, Germany, Ghana, Italy and The Netherlands.

* 8 players have made senior international appearances for their country: Chris Rolfe (10), Logan Pause (6), Larentowicz (4), Sean Johnson (3; USA), Arne Friedrich (82; Germany), Gonzalo Segares (19; Costa Rica), Patrick Nyarko (1; Ghana), Lindpere (84; Estonia).

* 5 players are alumni of the club’s player development setup: Rolfe and Austin Berry, (PDL), Brendan King (Super-20s), Victor Pineda, Kellen Gulley (Fire Juniors, Academy).

* Captain Logan Pause returns for his 11th consecutive season in Chicago – one of the longest consecutive tenures with one team all-time in MLS. Pause sits second on the club’s all competitions appearance list with 304 games played since 2003.

* Entering the 2013 season, Fire players have a combined 86 seasons of MLS experience. Leading the way are Logan Pause (10), Jeff Larentowicz and Gonzalo Segares (8), Chris Rolfe (6) and Wells Thompson (6).

* 3 players on the Fire roster have won MLS Cup. Larentowicz, Thompson and Amarikwa were all part of the Colorado Rapids side that won the 2010 title.

* 7 players on the Fire roster have won a combined 11 domestic titles: Pause (2 U.S. Open Cups, 1 Supporters Shield), Larentowicz and Thompson (1 MLS Cup, 1 U.S. Open Cup each), Segares and Rolfe (1 U.S. Open Cup), Amarikwa (1 MLS Cup), Maicon Santos (1 Canadian Championship).

* This season marks the first time since 2009 that the Fire have had two goalkeepers return. Sean Johnson is back for his fourth season while Paolo Tornaghi backs him up for the second year.

READ: Five things you should know about #LAvCHI

* The current roster has scored 158 goals in regular season play, led by 2012 Fire MVP and Golden Boot winner Chris Rolfe who has 44 career strikes. Three of the Fire’s offseason acquisitions boast double-digit career goal scoring figures: Jeff Larentowicz (23 goals), Joel Lindpere (15 goals) and Maicon Santos (21 goals).

* Frank Klopas returns for his second full season as head coach and third since taking over from Carlos de los Cobos in May 2011. 

* Klopas is 25-16-16 all-time in MLS play and is 28-19-16 in competitive matches since 2011.

* Klopas' full coaching staff of Mike Matkovich and Leo Percovich (assistants), Aron Hyde(goalkeeping) and Tony Jouaux (fitness) return for 2013.

* All five coaches were born in different countries: Klopas (Greece), Matkovich (USA), Percovich (Uruguay), Hyde (England), Jouaux (France).

 

02 March 9:38 am

The 2013 MLS campaign kicks off today and the All-In Podcast crew has made their picks for the weekend matches... We'll tally these throughout the season and be sure to point out who does the worst every week on the Podcast...

  Jeff Crandall
Co-Host
Eunice Kim
Co-Host
Nick Sintich
Producer
Philadelphia vs. Sporting KC
(3/2 4pm CT; MLS Live)
SKC SKC SKC
Vancouver vs. Toronto FC
(3/2 5:30pm CT; MLS Live)
VAN VAN VAN
Houston vs. D.C. United
(3/2 7:00pm CT; NBCSN)
Draw HOU Draw
FC Dallas vs. Colorado
(3/2 7:30pm CT; MLS Live)
FCD Draw Draw
Seattle vs. Montreal
(3/2 9:30pm CT; MLS Live)
SEA Draw SEA
Chivas USA vs. Columbus
(3/2 9:30pm CT; MLS Live)
CLB CHV CLB
LA Galaxy vs. Chicago
(3/3 4pm CT; UniMas)
Draw CHI CHI
Portland vs. New York
(3/3 6:30pm CT; ESPN2)
Draw POR Draw
San Jose vs. Real Salt Lake
(3/3 9:00pm CT; MLS Live)
RSL SJ SJ
2013 Records 0-0-0 0-0-0 0-0-0