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24 June 11:36 am

Sunday's announcement of Arne Friedrich's retirement was a tough one to take but the Twitterverse did a great job to pay tribute to the two-time German World Cup veteran's illustrious career.

Here are some of our favorite tweets from Sunday:

24 June 9:21 am
Get in on some small-sided soccer action on July 20 as the 3v3 LIVE tournament comes to Berens Park in Elmhurst.
 
- Teams are guaranteed a minimum of four games
- All registered players receive a 3v3 LIVE t-shirt as well as a ticket to the Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United match that night
- All championship games are to be played on the Toyota Park main field before the Fire/D.C. United game
- All additional tickets can be bought at a discounted rate at www.chicago-fire.com/3v3.
 
Registration is $240 and ends July 14! To register your team, click here.
 
 
22 June 11:54 pm

Select shots from the Fire's 2-1 win over the Crew.

Credit: USA Today Sports Images

21 June 10:01 am

If you've paid attention to Victor Pineda's story over the last year, you'll know that just making the U.S. U-20 roster was a challenge.

The Fire's original Homegrown player came close to making his competitive debut at the end of 2012 before a meniscus injury sidelined him through much of this year's preseason.

Ever resilient, Pineda recovered in time to join the U.S. U-20s and will hopefully take the field when Tab Ramos' side opens up the FIFA World Youth Championships Friday vs. Spain in Istanbul, Turkey (LIVE 1pm CT on ESPN2).

Yanks Abroad's Brian Sciaretta wrote this excellent piece on Pineda's road to Turkey.

21 June 8:54 am

The Men in Red extended their unbeaten streak to six games across all competitions on Wednesday night (4-0-2), coming behind to defeat the Colorado Rapids 2-1. Columbus notched a big win against Montreal last time out and face difficult trips to Kansas City and LA after the Saturday’s home game against the Fire.

Here are some things to keep an eye on from a tactical perspective in this big match for both teams (LIVE Saturday 6:30pm CT on My50).

The turnover game - both teams will look to pressure each other’s back line

In the Crew’s most recent loss to the Union earlier this month, the Ohio team had major problems retaining possession when put under pressure. The Union forwards, especially Jack McInerny, did not allow Columbus time on the ball and the pressure led to Philly getting on the score sheet.

Johnson, Rolfe Preview Columbus

As we know, players like Mike Magee, Chris Rolfe and Patrick Nyarko are excellent at putting pressure on the opponent’s defense and this will be important on Saturday night.

On the other side of the coin, the Crew like to deploy the high pressure tactic too, with former Fire player Dominic Oduro often hunting down defenders and not allowing them time on the ball.

READ: Berry recovers from blunder with winning goal vs. Rapids

In the Crew's 2-0 win over the Montreal Impact last weekend, Oduro stole the ball from a Montreal defender before slotting home the Crew's second goal in the 22nd minute.

Fire defender Austin Berry had an unfortunate incident in Wednesday's match against Colorado where he was stripped of the ball allowing rookie Deshorn Brown to give Colorado the lead.

In a game that is expected to be very tight, the team making the least mental mistakes could end up on top.

The battle on the left side - Duka/Lindpere vs Anor

Columbus winger Bernardo Anor won many plaudits for his performance against Montreal last week on his first start back from a horrible ACL injury.

The left-footed Venezuelan started on the right against the Impact and will be looking to build on that performance against the Fire Saturday night.

On the same side of the field, coach Frank Klopas will be choosing between former Crew winger Dilly Duka and veteran Joel Lindpere for the start.

Dan and Kevin Talk Crew

Duka played his best game for the Men in Red against Colorado on Wednesday night as he was able to get in 1v1 situations on numerous occasions and earned the penalty that equalized the match.

Lindpere has yet to fully live up to the high expectations put on him by Fire fans after his move from New York this offseason.

With the team in the middle of a 4 games in 11 day stretch, a start for Lindpere seems plausible.

Getting back into the stating XI in a huge Eastern Conference showdown could be the perfect motivation for Lindpere to put in a man of the match performance on Saturday night.

Dominic Oduro - A striker with a point to prove

With seven goals to his name this season, Dominic Oduro has landed on his feet in Columbus after his trade away from the Windy City. Oduro also seems to have developed into a more complete striker since his move.

The speedy Ghanaian’s patience on the ball has resulted in him making better decisions and linking with his midfielders more instead of going alone and trying to score.

What has impressed me about Oduro since the trade is his move away from a reliance on his right foot to a player that is comfortable shooting with both.

READ: The Influence of Jeff Larentowicz

Fire fans will remember Oduro's hot and cold finishing but on his day, he can be unstoppable. The Fire have held Oduro scoreless in two matches already this season but at home, the Ghanaian will be aiming to prove a point and it is up to the Fire defenders to keep him quiet on Saturday night.

Prediction: 2-1 Fire with a brace from midfielder Alex

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

20 June 3:03 pm

With all the talk of "Magic" Mike Magee and his ridiculous five goals in five games since joining the Fire, it was always likely that other players would be overlooked.
 
But as much as Magee (or maybe because of him) we’ve seen other players step up and contribute to the Fire’s season-saving June. Midfielders like Alex and Daniel Paladini mitigated the effects of losing Logan Pause, defenders Jalil Anibaba and new addition Bakary Soumare stabilized what was a less than sturdy backline, and up front, Patrick Nyarko, Chris Rolfe, and Sherjill MacDonald selflessly put in the work supporting Magee.
 
But perhaps the most influential non-Magee on the Fire this season has been Jeff Larentowicz. The veteran was brought in this offseason and immediately won a spot in the starting line-up, a spot he proved he deserved with his signature tackling, distribution, and even a game-winning goal early in the season.
 
 
On Wednesday night against Colorado, Larentowicz showed once again why he’s become the platform on which the Fire’s recent surge was built (see his heat map to the right).
 
It was his harrying and tackling that helped change the momentum of the game after Colorado’s early goal (see his 30th minute tackle, and the effort he put in to win a goal kick in his own box a few minutes earlier). Later in the second half, as Colorado pressed to equalize, his header just wide was the Fire’s best chance. 
 
Maybe one ten minute period showed it best: His skill in the 71st minute won the Fire a corner and diffused pressure; his block in the 78th maintained the Fire’s lead.
 
And just like his eagerness this season has led to some ups and downs (including that unfortunate red card at Montreal), his early yellow card for diving in a little over zealously threatened to hamper his effectiveness. Would he hesitate to tackle out of fear of his second yellow?
 
Nope. It seems like he doesn’t let anything shake him off. We’ve talked about “Magee Face”, that expression of all the emotions a soccer game can summon in a person, all the heartbreak and endeavor and passion. “Larentowicz Face” is the opposite. It’s stone cold. It’s not hashtag material. It’s focused and determined and sort of scary.

 


 

That’s why his reaction after his miss in the second half was so endearing. As Fire fans and the My50 announcers celebrated what looked like a goal from certain angles, Larentowicz reacted with unadulterated frustration and anger. In his mind, he should’ve scored, he knew he had it, and as a leader by example, he couldn’t contain the flash of the expectations he has of himself. It was a totally honest moment.
 
As the game Wednesday progressed, Fire fans licked their lips at the prospect of Magee (and later MacDonald), Nyarko, and Rolfe running through wide open spaces in the Colorado defense.
 
But none of the counterattacks panned out. In the end, what defined the end of the game was a little bit of luck, sure, but mostly it was the plucky work of the Fire as a unit, withstanding the pressure and closing it out. Nobody represents that more than Larentowicz, and you could read it on his face.
 
Onwards. Three points. Who’s next?

Ben Schuman-Stoler is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @bsto.

 

20 June 10:39 am

Earlier Thursday morning I was once again invited back to U.S. Soccer Federation headquarters in downtown Chicago to witness the semifinal round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup coin flips.

Let me be honest, unlike the previous three rounds, Thursday's process was the simplest I've witnessed.

That's because even before showing up at Soccer House on Thursday morning, U.S. Soccer had already confirmed what the potential semifinal pairings would be earlier this week based on geography.

Combine that with all eight quarterfinal teams applying to host the semifinals, literally all that was needed was to flip the famous bicentennial silver dollar twice.

Still, Competition Secretary Paul Marstaller kept things official, handing out the same formatted paper which clearly listed the matchups and assigned heads and tails.

That sheet looked like this:

Heads Tails
D.C. United/New England Revolution Chicago Fire/Orlando City*
Real Salt Lake/Carolina RailHawks* Portland Timbers/FC Dallas

If I can be bold enough to say, every time the Fire have come up in a coin flip, I honestly get this strange excitement in my stomach. The feeling of a simple coin going a long way to deciding your team's tournament fate is a thrilling, if not brief emotion.

TICKETS: Chicago Fire vs. Orlando City Quarterfinal on June 26

Luckily for the Fire, the first coin flip landed tails, meaning the winner of next Wednesday's game vs. Orlando City will host the winnder of D.C. United/New England on August 7. This is the third straight flip the Fire have won after losing the initial third round flip to the Charlotte Eagles.

In the second flip, the coin came up heads, meaning the winner of Real Salt Lake/Carolina RailHawks will host the winner of Portland/FC Dallas. The flip was the fourth consecutive win for RSL in the 2013 U.S. Open Cup.

And that was it.

Only one coin flip remains and that's for the final which will be played in early October. I'm told that will go down at some point in July.

All intentions to host the final were due along with intentions for the semifinal on Wednesday, though U.S. Soccer will likely not make that list public until the final coin flips occur.

I can confirm the Chicago Fire have applied to host the 2013 U.S. Open Cup final.

Earlier 2013 Open Cup Coin Flips:

- Quarterfinals
- Fourth Round
- Third Round

19 June 11:24 pm
Quote Sheet
Chicago Fire 2 – 1 Colorado Rapids
Toyota Park – June 19, 2013
 
Frank Klopas, Chicago Fire Head Coach
 
Overall thoughts on the win
 
“It’s a team effort. It’s always about the team and I think it was an important game for us in this homestand and we needed to get the three points and we found a way, again, to come back from behind. I’m just proud of the guys because I think we did create, even in the second half, good chances but also they had good looks. And that’s the game. Sometimes things have to go your way. We put the second goal [in], we created some more chances so we could get a little more comfortable lead, but in the end we suffered a little bit but the guys stuck together, they played well, and it was a great three points for us at home.”
 
On Mike Magee’s injury
 
“I think he’s a little bit sore we’ll see better tomorrow. I think he’s got ice on it, hopefully it’s not that bad but three games in seven days, we have to see how guys feel tomorrow and then make some decisions. We have players on the team that we can count on and that’s going to be the case throughout the season.”
 
On if Magee’s injury is a concern
 
“No, I think it’s not that bad but you never know. Tomorrow we will have a better idea. He’s got an ice pack right now. I felt that after that shot, he wasn’t one-hundred-percent and its good that we were able to take him out.”
 
On Austin Berry’s performance today
 
“I think it was a whole team effort. I think Austin is always a guy that is dangerous in the box and we knew that he’s very good in the air. He’s a competitor. The kid leaves everything on the field. He’s played some great matches. I think that every game he goes in and competes and leaves everything for the team on the field and that’s all you can ask for. Fantastic outing today again by him and by the whole.”
 
On if he was worried about Austin Berry after his early mistake to give up the goal
 
“No, not at all because I know him, how he is. I know him very well and I think that’s part of the game. Things happen and you have to move on. You can’t look back and as a team we always look forward and you saw his response. You see how the guy’s mentality is very strong and I think that that’s part of the game, it’s going to happen and you have to move on and we did and I think he responded well and the team responded well. But he’s got a pretty strong mentality and those things don’t faze him. Other guys maybe it’s different but with him I knew there was no issue.”
 
On the team conceding goals in the air recently
 
“I think we got to keep working on our box defending. This is something we have talked about. Baky [Soumare] is someone that’s not new into the group and we have been working on that and that’s crucial…our ability to mark in the box. But that’s not the kind of goal we gave up tonight. But I thought the back line was solid and Sean [Johnson]did a very good job coming out. Inside the box he was the man. He came out, he stopped a lot of plays in the air, but I think as a whole, that’s a crucial part of the game because where are the goals scored from? Inside the box. So our ability to get tight on the wide players so they don’t have easy service and then our ability in the box to defend is something that we work on constantly during the week but I didn’t feel there was an issue tonight. The guys did well. I think Sean [Johnson] was huge for us coming out with his sight and ability to pick up those balls. It was great.”
 
On how Dilly Duka is coming along
 
“We knew Dilly [Duka] and his ability. He’s only going to get better. He had another fantastic game tonight. He made the PK, he was very dangerous, and he’s a young player with a lot of ability. He just keeps getting better and stronger with every match.”
 
On what will be similar and different against Columbus this weekend
 
“We just got to assess where the team is. I think we have depth in the team and there’s opportunities when we play a lot of matches to count on the team as a whole. So we will see where the guys are tomorrow and we will adjust knowing that we have 3 games in 7 days but we will have a better picture of where guys are tomorrow. Like I said, we got to rely on the team and these are the times where you do that. I have confidence in the whole group.”
 
Austin Berry, Chicago Fire defender
 
On going down early in games
 
“A lot of it is our own fault, obviously tonight it was my fault.  There aren’t a lot of teams breaking us down and beating us, so if we shore things up from our end that should eliminate the early goals.”
 
On his mistake that led to the first goal
 
“Basically, I passed the ball to him.  I couldn’t have helped him out anymore. I was too lazy on the ball.  I didn’t play quickly enough and he caught me.”
 
On scoring after a mistake which lead to a Colorado goal
 
“I think this is the third time since last year that I’ve made a mistake, then come back to score a goal.”
 
On the unbeaten streak
 
“It feels good. Even early in the season we kept a good mindset.  We were still focused on the goals at hand and now we’re starting to score some goals and get the victories.  It feels good to be rewarded for all our hard work.”
 
On pattern of going down early, like last season
 
“It’s great that we can get good results to make up for our mistakes.  We have to remember not to get down on ourselves, but like we keep saying, we can’t always rely on coming back; sometimes we aren’t going to be able to put goals in the net.  Luckily tonight we were able to get that goal back in the first half, I think that was key to the victory.”
 
Patrick Nyarko, Chicago Fire midfielder
 
On giving up the early goal
 
“We need to have great concentration coming out of the gates.  I can’t wrap my mind around it happening today because I thought we were playing really well – we were creating chances and getting possession in the midfield.  The goal was just a bad mistake, but it happens.  But it let you see how strong the kid is, he came back and scored a goal and we won the game.  Giving up the early goals has got to stop.  Personally, I think it was better today because we had control of the game.”
 
On the game plan in the second half
 
“I think in the first half we handled ourselves pretty well.  It wasn’t the perfect game, but I think we were on top.  This was one of our better games all year putting the first and second halves together.  Last game we played better in the second half, but not so much in the first half.  This game we didn’t let them play to their strengths.  We dominated them, not entirely, just enough to win.”
 
Mike Magee, Chicago Fire forward
 
On the five goals in five games streak
 
“If I start talking about that it won’t be six in six, so no comment.”
 
On the PK
 
“The only thing you need to know about that goal is Dilly [Duka].  He did an incredible job to beat his guy.  He was going one on one with Marvell Wynne, which is a pretty daunting task – he just went at him.  The finish was pretty simple.”
 
On his leadership on the field
 
“The intention is to help the team win.  Tonight wasn’t even my best game.  I thought Jeff Larentowicz was fantastic, I thought Patrick Nyarko was fantastic and my only job tonight was to tap in a penalty kick so not much credit should go to me.”
 
Oscar Pareja, Colorado Rapids Head Coach
 
On what he saw tonight
 
“Our team had a very good start to the match.  We created some chances and I think we controlled the game.  The plan we designed with the boys at the beginning of the game went very well.  Unfortunately we gave up one play in the first half, where Magee took the penalty kick and scored.  Second half I thought it was tight; Chicago pushed and found an early goal in the second half off a set piece.  We reacted and we had chances to equalize but at that point, I thought the game was back and forth.  Chicago waited for us and they didn’t move their line up from the back.  Also, we tried to have the initiate to create chances and they tried to play on the counter.  Again, it could have gone both ways.  Unfortunately for us, it went to them.”
 
On feeling like they could at least had a point tonight
 
“You always think that you can get more.  At this point we have learned our lessons and we cannot keep saying we deserve more.  We just need to make it happen on the field.  We have to get the points and the points sometimes you get the points by doing the small things all the time.  I thought today we mostly were good and we had initiative but we still made some mistakes and it cost us.”
 
On the second game in a row where the defense allowed two goals
 
“We’re concerned about it.  It’s just something we were showing a lot of improvement and now in the last three we have let in goals.  That’s our main concern now.  I think it’s a bunch of little things.  We can’t point out just one, because when you attack and you defend it’s a collective effort.  We attack as a unit, we defend as a unit.  When we correct the defensive mistakes we have to see the whole team.”
 
On Chicago’s second goal and if it was offside
 
“No, I didn’t see it.  I didn’t have replay where I was.  Unfortunately I couldn’t be on the line.  I would have to see it again.  It looks to me he was off, but I have to see it and judge well.  At that point, I thought the assistant referee had him and I hope it’s not the case.”
 
On Martin Rivero’s injury
 
“He felt some tightness in his quad.  He’s a bit confused now-he’s not sure if it’s a knock there or a pull in his muscle.  We’ll be waiting for the doctors.”
 
On getting ready for Portland
 
“It’s a mental stage for us.  We had a good stretch of games where we were getting points and winning, now we had some games where we got no points.  So it’s a mental game now.  We have to prepare our team mentally and we will jump over this hurdle that we have.”
 
Deshorn Brown, Colorado Rapids Forward
 
On the match
 
“I think it was just a tough loss tonight.  We go out there and get the first goal and we thought we had the game in hand.  The team turned around and started to harm us.  We had some chances that we should have put away.  We didn’t make the chances and that turned around and hurt us.”
 
On his goal
 
“I saw the defender play back to his other defender.  I just read the play and kept going, hoping he would make a mistake, and he did.  Just got into an one-on-one with the goalkeeper and put it into the back of the net.”
 
On scoring 3 goals and four assists in his rookie season
 
“I think I’m doing pretty good and trying to get used to the league more and understand how to play a lot better so I will keep pushing myself.  Hopefully as time goes on, we progress and get ready for Portland on Sunday.”
 
On what the team needs to do to prepare for Portland
 
“We need to get some rest, and focus on the mistakes we made in this game and correct them.  Make sure we go to Portland, and switch on, do the right thing and get three points and go home happy.”
19 June 12:17 pm

The Chicago Fire's Chris Rolfe, Logan Pause and Frank Klopas took part in U.S. Soccer's Centennial celebration and World Cup qualifying viewing party Tuesday night at Chicago's Grant Park.

Check out photos from the event below: