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04 January 6:15 pm

First, a warm welcome to the newest member of the Chicago Fire, midfielder Joel Lindpere.

The move to acquire the Estonian international was met with pretty high praise from yours truly, considering all that was exchanged was an international roster spot. Also consider that the guy has scored a few goals against the Fire since coming to MLS (three to be exact and four if you count a preseason goal he scored back in 2011). 

That aside, here are five other reasons I can really appreciate the move for the club's latest addition...

He’s the very definition of an iron man – In a total of 98 MLS regular season matches he’s been eligible for over the last three seasons, Lindpere has appeared in exactly 97 games, the most of any MLS player in that time span. That also includes goalkeepers.  

Players on the current Fire roster with comparable MLS appearances over the last three MLS seasons: Dominic Oduro (93 with Chicago/Houston), Patrick Nyarko (91, Chicago), Logan Pause (87, Chicago) and Wells Thompson (79, Colorado/Chicago).


Lindpere has 3 goals in 7 games vs. the Fire

There’s a certain swagger he has… He looks intimidating and the Estonian international has a certain bite that backs up the way he carries himself. His aggression and ability in the attack reminds me a bit of Dema Kovalenko, though with a few less yellow cards.…

He has a pretty powerful left foot – Watch the video below. He’s a threat in crossing the ball but can also unleash a pretty powerful shot. Combine this acquisition with that of Maicon Santos and the power in attack has been greatly upgraded.

Competition (and rest) in the midfield – The biggest knock against the Fire in 2012 was the perceived lack of enough squad rotation. By season’s end, the team looked a little bit tired and perhaps slightly predictable. With the likes of Nyarko, Alvaro Fernandez, Alex and the potential return of Corben Bone, the attacking midfield options available to Klopas in times of heavy fixture congestion have been upgraded as well.

Good Results from transactions with Red Bull – Back in 2007 when Fire owner Andrew Hauptman filed tampering charges with New York relating to the Juan Carlos Osorio affair, the team received the Red Bulls’ first round selection in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft which the team used to select the-ever dangerous Patrick Nyarko.

Just about a year ago, the Fire traded the rights of defender Wilman Conde to Red Bull in exchanged for an undisclosed, but rumored to be high amount of allocation money that presumably went towards the acquisitions of defender Arne Friedrich and forward Chris Rolfe.

Not a bad track record…

WATCH: Joel Lindpere Highlights

31 December 9:44 am

Well its the last day of the year and we're aptly left remembering all that went down in the Fire world during 2012. 

A new jersey sponsor, a Ring of Fire induction, a 15th Anniversary, playoff qualification and a Rookie of the Year winner are just some of the highlights. 

Take a photographic look back on the club's memorable 15th season:

officialfiresoccer's 2012 In Review album on Photobucket

Stay tuned on Tuesday as I give my New Year's Resolutions for the Fire in 2013!

28 December 11:35 am

One of the final pieces of business for Section 8 Chicago every calendar year is to finalize the candidate listing for the board elections which take place at the ISA’s Annual General Meeting set for the last weekend of January every year.

Much like American presidential candidates have a deadline to declare candidacy in order to receive federal funding, Section 8 board candidates had to declare their intention to run by posting to the ISA’s forums by midnight on Thursday.

The deadline came and went Thursday night with all eight positions having at least one candidate running. While most are unopposed, two positions, Director of Finance and Director of Marketing will have election races.

Don’t like the American style two-party system? An interesting play in the Section 8 board elections is that candidates also list their group affiliation.

Though there are a number of different supporters groups that make up the umbrella of Section 8 Chicago, three (Ultras Red Side, Whiskey Brothers Aught Five and Westmont Ultras) are represented along with a number of folks who have no group affiliation (Independents).

In the coming weeks, candidates will lay out the plans they have for their positions via the Section 8 forums ahead of the AGM to be held January 26 (location to be confirmed). ALL Fire supporters are encouraged to attend the AGM and allowed to vote on board positions. 

Find below the list of candidacies as well as their group affiliations and follow the race via the Section 8 forum:

Chair: Joel Biden * / Independent
Vice-Chair: Jeffrey Marinacci * / Independent
Communications: Nick Fedora / Whiskey Brothers ‘05
Events: Annie West / Independent
Finance: 1) Merrie Bunt / Ultras Red Side  2) Josue Gomez ** /  Westmont Ultras
Operations: Eric Kekeis / Ultras Red Side
Marketing: 1) Frank Cardenas / Whiskey Brothers ‘05   2) Marty Groark * / Independent
Merchandise: Freddy Coba / Ultras Red Side

* - Incumbent    ** - Current Board Member, new position

Good luck to all candidates!
 

23 December 4:29 pm

Well you heard a bit about Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry spending time at Atletico Madrid last month. Our friends at Kick TV followed the Fire's defensive pair during their stay at the Calderon... Check out the video below!

18 December 11:11 am

With today's league-wide announcement of MLS First Kick and Home Opening matches, we wanted to take a photgraphic look back at some of the team's previous matches to open their season...

Fire First Kick and Opening Day in Photos

A look back at the club's previous opening matches...

Storified by Chicago Fire Soccer Club · Tue, Dec 18 2012 09:07:09

1998_FirstKickChicago Fire Soccer Club
Polish striker Roman Kosecki scored the first goal in Fire history, tallying what would stand as the game winner in the 76th minute of a 2-0 victory at the Miami Fusion on March 21, 1998.
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Hristo Stoitchkov celebrates the first of two goals in his Fire debut, which came in a 4-2 First Kick loss at the Dallas Burn on March 18, 2000.
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John Wolyniec celebrates after tallying in the 16th minute of the Fire's 1-1 First Kick draw at Columbus on April 7, 2001.
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Damani Ralph makes his Fire debut in the teams 1-1 First Kick and Home Opening draw with the New England Revolution on April 13, 2003 at Cardinal Stadium in Naperville, Ill. 
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Goalkeeper Henry Ring makes four saves en route to earning his first career MLS shutout in a 0-0 First Kick draw with the Kansas City Wizards on April 13, 2004.
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Fire players celebrate Thiago's 90th minute winner in the team's 2-1 home opening victory over the San Jose Earthquakes on April 16, 2005.
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Fire players celebrate the first-ever goal scored in Toyota Park by Nate Jaqua, tallied in the 39th minute of the team's 3-3 draw vs. new England on June 11, 2006.
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The Grand Opening of Toyota Park comes with a 2-0 Fire win over the New York Red Bulls on June 25, 2006.
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Gonzalo Segares battles New England's Taylor Twellman in the Fire's 1-0 home opening victory over the New England Revolution on April 7, 2007 at Toyota Park. 
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Logan Pause celebrates his first-career MLS goal, the game winner in the team's 1-0 Opening Night victory over New England on April 7, 2007 at Toyota Park. 
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Cuauhtemoc Blanco celebrates his stoppage time equalizer in the Fire's 1-1 away draw at Real Salt Lake in First Kick 2008.
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Tomasz Frankowski scores one of his two goals in the Fire's 4-0 Opening Night victory over New England on April 3, 2008 at Toyota Park.
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Marco Pappa tallies his first career Fire goal in the 33rd minute of the team's 1-0 Opening Day victory over the New York Red Bulls on April 5, 2009.
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Section 8 Chicago tifo ahead of the sold-out Opening Night match vs. San Jose Earthquakes on April 10, 2010.
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Diego Chaves tallies his first goal in his Fire debut in the 17th minute of the team's 1-1 First Kick draw at FC Dallas on March 19, 2011.
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Gaston Puerari puts the Fire ahead 2-0 in the 40th minute of the team's 3-2 Opening Day victory over Sporting KC on March 26, 2011.
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Section 8 Chicago celebrates the team's 3-2 Opening Day victory over Sporting KC on March 26, 2011.
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Dominic Oduro equalizes for the Fire in the team's 1-1 First Kick draw with the Montreal Impact on March 17, 2012 at the Olympic Stadium. 
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Section 8 Chicago tifo ahead of the team's 1-0 Opening Night win over the Philadelphia Union on March 24, 2012
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Dominic Oduro heads home the eventual game winner in the Fire's 1-0 Opening Night victory over the Philadelphia Union on March 24, 2012.

13 December 4:34 pm

Major League Soccer today released the final list of players eligible for Stage Two of the MLS Re-Entry process to take place via teleconference Friday afternoon at 2pm CT.

Midfielder Corben Bone, defender Dan Gargan and goalkeeper Jay Nolly remained on the list from the Fire after passing through the Stage One draft last Friday. Of course the Fire were the only team to select a player in that draft, picking Brazilian forward Maicon Santos. 

The Stage Two draft typically has more activity as teams who select players on Friday can negotiate their salaries. In Stage Two, teams cannot select their own players until after all 18 other teams have passed on them.

Players that pass through Friday's draft without getting picked are free to sign with any MLS team on a first-come, first-served basis. If you're at all still confused, I explained the entire Re-Entry Process in this blog last Friday

The list of the 49 eligible players for Re-Entry is below. Salary numbers are from the most recent report by the MLS Players Union.

This is probably a weaker Re-Entry Field than we've seen in the two previous versions. Given the three players the Fire have exposed to the draft and considering the moves made so far this offseason (re-signing Arne Friedrich and Gonzalo Segares; acquiring Maicon Santos), who, if anyone would you want to see the Fire take in Stage Two tomorrow? 

Tell us in the comments below...

Team Player Position 2012 Base Salary
CHI Jay Nolly GK $78,250
CHI Corben Bone M $100,000
CHI Dan Gargan  D $88,000
CHV Juan Pablo Angel F $350,000
CHV Peter Vagenas M $70,000
CHV Danny Califf D $275,000
CHV Alejandro Moreno F $185,000
CLB Will Hesmer GK $170,000
CLB Julius James D $100,000
COL Tyrone Marshall D $90,000
COL Scott Palguta D $63,670
COL Conor Casey F $400,000
COL Hunter Freeman D $105,000
COL Jamie Smith M $148,992
COL Ian Joyce GK $44,004
COL Joseph Nane M $44,100
COL Tyson Wahl D $65,000
DC Mike Chabala D $75,000
DAL  Bruno Guarda M $60,000
DAL Kevin Hartman GK $165,000
DAL Julian De Guzman M $1,863,996
DAL Scott Sealy F $50,004
HOU Colin Clark M $105,427
KC Olukorede Aiyebusi D $44,100
KC Luke Sassano M/D $81,000
LA Chad Barrett F $220,000
LA Andrew Boyens D $62,500
LA Bryan Jordan F $55,000
LA Pat Noonan F $70,000
MTL Shavar Thomas D $80,000
NE Tim Murray GK $44,100
NE Blair Gavin M $60,000
NY Bill Gaudette GK $60,000
NY Stephen Keel D $65,000
PHI Chase Harrison GK $44,000
POR Lovel Palmer M $85,000
RSL Paulo Araujo, Jr. F $65,000
SEA Andrew Weber GK $51,996
SEA Mike Seamon M $33,750
SJ Jean Alexandre M $44,100
SJ Tim Ward D $65,000
SJ Ramiro Corrales M $173,250
SJ Joseph Gjertsen M $85,000
SJ Khari Stephenson M $190,000
TOR Eric Avila M $125,000
TOR Adrian Cann D $126,000
TOR Ty Harden D $90,000
VAN John Thorrington  M $170,000

 

12 December 11:47 am

Over the last few years, tifo displays have become a rather large part of showcasing the vibrancy of a club’s supporters.

Long before tifo became the backdrop for so many wire photos and national broadcasts, it was Section 8 Chicago that helped to pioneer the movement in MLS circles.

It’s hard to forget some of the very memorable displays the ISA has come up with over the years: Super Mario Bros., “La Vida es un Carnivale”, “Tonight, We Reignite the Fire” and the Diversity display are just a few.

Section 8 Tifo

Storified by Chicago Fire Soccer Club · Wed, Dec 12 2012 10:23:32

banner_1Chicago Fire Soccer Club
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Tifo WorkshopChicago Fire Soccer Club
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Section 8 Chicago Megabandera II - 6/17/2012 - Proud Supporters of Chicago Fire Soccer Clubswkfilms
Section 8 Chicago - Mario Bros. Tifo Display - 9.25.2010swkfilms

While all of those are very elaborate displays that take months of planning and work, much more simple displays (referred to as two-poles for the mechanisms that hold them in the air) have also become staples of the Harlem End.

Personal favorites of mine are the Stewie Griffin (right), The Blues Brothers and even my own special display that made its way into the Section earlier this year.

As we head towards the 2013 season, Section 8 is holding a Tifo Workshop this Sunday, December 16 from noon to 7pm at ChiTown Futbol (2255 S. Throop) in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.

The workshop is open to all Fire fans who wish to create where their own two-pole or wall banner to hang at Fire matches. Folks that come out can also learn more about the work involved in creating the larger, aforementioned tifo displays that decorate the stadium from time to time.

The Banner Workshop will run from 12 noon until 7PM, and Tifo Crew members will be on hand to help you with your project. Bring your design on a USB flash drive or on a computer that has an HDMI output. Supplies will be provided by Section 8 Chicago.

Check out this video from the Tifo Crew Workshop held at ChiTown in Feburary…

See you Sunday!

10 December 11:45 am

Atletico de Madrid

Though Lionel Messi set a very impressive career mark on Sunday, it would be hard to argue anyone on the planet had as good of a weekend as Atletico Madrid’s Radamel Falcao who scored five goals in Atleti’s 6-0 home win over Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday.

Teammate Diego Costa put Atletico ahead 1-0 in the 23rd minute before Flacao unleashed a fury of goals in the 28th, 42nd, 64th, 68th and 71st minutes as the club eased to victory over the La Liga bottom dwellers. 

The goal fest moved Falcao past Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo and into second on the La Liga goal charts with 16, sitting behind only Barcelona’s Messi who has 23 goals in the current campaign.

Atletico will shift focus to Copa del Rey play when they welcome Getafe to the Calderon for the first leg of their series on Wednesday.

Sitting six points behind Barcelona at second place in the La Liga table, the club will hope to cut into the lead when they travel to the Nou Camp for a top of the table clash on Sunday.

See all the goals from Sunday below...


 

Besiktas Istanbul

In Turkish Super League play on Friday, Besiktas ran out to a 2-0 lead over Eskisehirspor through Slovakian striker Filip Holosko (sixth minute) and Portuguese forward Hugo Almeida (66th minute).

They often say that in soccer 2-0 is the most dangerous lead though and that proved true as Eskisehirspor pulled two late goals back through a Necate Antes penalty in the 82nd minute before Austrian substitute Atdhe Nuhiu equalized in the 90th.

With the 2-2 draw, Besiktas sit third on 26 points in the Super League heading into Wednesday’s Turkish Cup  match at Antalyaspor. They return to league play Saturday when they visit ninth place Genclebirligi.

Raja Casablanca

Raja Casablanca remained first in the Moroccan Botola Pro League, earning four points in two matches last week.

The Green Eagles downed Moghreb Tetouan 3-1 at home last Wednesday before playing to a 0-0 draw at Maghreb Fez on Sunday.

With 23 points, the side sits one point above second place Wydad Casablanca with a game in hand, heading into their top of the table clash this Friday. 

07 December 10:04 am

Despite going into its third-year of existence, the MLS Re-Entry process still leaves plenty of folks scratching their heads every December. I'll try to explain the ins and outs ahead of today's Stage One Draft...

What is it? 

The Re-Entry Process is confusing because its also unique in terms of North American sport. The idea came as a compromise to help settle the latest Collect Bargaining Agreement in early 2010. 

In essence, the Re-Entry Process is Major League Soccer's form of free agency, allowing players that meet certain requirements the opportunity to test the waters of moving to another team. Prior to the signing of the current CBA, teams still held league rights to players that were out of contract, meaning that in order for a player to move, a team would need to waive his rights or a trade would have to occur.

Under the new terms, players that have played a minimum of three years in MLS and are at least 23 years of age are eligible for the annual Re-Entry process should their current team decline their option or if they're out of contract. Full eligibility requirements for players can be found in Section II.G here.

There are two stages to the Re-Entry Process, each with different caveats...

Explaining Stage One

Thursday night MLS released the final list of players eligible for Stage One of the 2012 Re-Entry Process set for Friday at 2 p.m. CT. Prior to the release, players had up until 4 p.m. CT Thursday to opt out of the draft.

This was the case for Gonzalo Segares, who re-signed with the club on Thursday. With that transaction, two Fire players, midfielder Corben Bone and goalkeeper Jay Nolly, remained on the list of 52 players eligible for selection.

UPDATE: As of 1:30 p.m. CT, Fire defender Dan Gargan was added to the Stage One Re-Entry list by the league.

Teams that pick players at Stage One on Friday must exercise the option (pick up the player's salary), or in the case of out of contract players, extend a Bona Fide Offer to, the player. If the player rejects the offer, the drafting club will hold the right of first refusal for that player in MLS (the player's league rights). Teams may not select their own players in Stage One of the Re-Entry Draft.

Held via conference call, generally Stage One of the Re-Entry Process is a quick affair, with only five players having been selected in the previous two stages combined. This is generally because of the first caveat above, by which a team must pick up the salary of a player's whose option hae been declined (the majority of players available fall under this category). 

Players that are not selected in Stage One are then able to come back to the table with their club and negotiate up until a second blackout period begins on Thursday, December 13 at 4 p.m. CT. 

After passing through the first stage of Re-Entry in 2010, Jovan Kirovski re-negotiated his contract to stay with the LA Galaxy another season, prior to Stage Two.

Expaining Stage Two

This is where the magic happens as Stage Two of the Re-Entry Process is one of the biggest days of player movement within the league every year. 

In 2010, 11 players were chosen in Stage Two while 10 were take in 2011. 

Set for next Friday, December 14 at 2 p.m. CT, players that are selected in Stage Two can negotiate a new salary with the team that has chosen them. As long as that salary is deemed as a genuine offer by MLS, the team retains the player's league rights.

A genuine offer must be placed within seven days of selection, though a signing doesn't necessarily need to happen in that time as negotiations can continue.

A team is eliminated from Stage Two once they pass on their turn. A team can only select it's own player once all other clubs have passed on that player. 

Players that pass through both stages of the Re-Entry process are deemed free agents and available on a first-come, first-served basis to all MLS teams.

Fire History in the Re-Entry Process

The Fire have selected two players through the Re-Entry Process and both had different cases.

In 2010, the team selected recently retired defender Cory Gibbs (right) from New England and immediately announced his signing. This was able to happen as the team and player had already agreed to terms in the case that Gibbs was selected to come to Chicago.

In 2011, the Fire picked forward Kheli Dube, also from New England but the Zimbabwean forward didn't sign a contract with the club until late January as the two parties negotiated terms of the deal.

The team has also had two players selected from it in the Re-Entry Process.

In 2011, the Fire saw midfielder Baggio Husidic and goalkeeper Jon Conway chosen in Stage Two by the Colorado Rapids and LA Galaxy respectively. Neither player signed with those clubs as Husidic elected to sign for Swedish side Hammarby while Conway announced his retirement.