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08 May 3:02 pm

The soccer world was stopped in its tracks Wednesday as legendary Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson announced this season would be his last.

I got the reaction to the news from the Fire’s resident United supporters, Patrick Nyarko and Brendan King earlier Wednesday.

Patrick Nyarko…

“I actually heard this morning before training. I had a moment. Then I had a moment to think. It’s just sad. I know it’s the right time but sometimes as the speculation has kept on going you start to think it’s never going to happen. You think he’s going to be there until he dies.

“I guess he’s made his decision it’s just a tough one because he’s simply irreplaceable. He’s given the club so much and as he said he left the club in the best possible state.

"I’m curious to see who the next manager is going to be. I’m sure whoever it is he’ll take after Sir Alex. He can’t be him but he can follow the tradition and apply his philosophies to keep the club at a top-level.

“I’d absolutely be alright with the next guy being David Moyes. That guy’s demeanor and his success with Everton with a smaller budget make me feel he’d be successful at United. I think he’s a player’s coach, every player he’s had plays hard for him.

“To go to a bigger club like Manchester United, he’ll have a lot more flexibility and I think he’d be really successful. I’d vouch for him and I hope the United faithful would be behind him.”

Brendan King…

“It’s a sad day. I woke up and checked my Twitter – that’s how I found out. You knew at some point it had to come to an end.

"It’s pretty sad but at the same time it’s great to celebrate what he’s achieved. I grew up a United fan and he’s the only manager I’ve known there.

“Sir Alex is such an iconic figure around Old Trafford and in the English game and he’ll forever be the greatest manager there. It’ll be pretty weird to see someone else sitting where he was – I don’t know if they’ll be chewing gum or not but it’ll be sad to see someone else step in.”

08 May 2:15 pm

After a scoreless 120 minutes, the Fire’s Team for the World alliance partner Internacional (Brazil) needed a shoot-out to edge Juventude 4-3 on Sunday, May 5 to clinch the Rio Grande do Sul state championship.

Inter played the same starting 11 for the third straight match in the final as former Brazilian international and national team coach Dunga clinched his first title with the club. 

As the winner of the first stage, the Piratini Cup, another tourney title in the Farroupilha Cup meant that they clinched the State championship. In the standard format the two winners face each other.

Internacional now moves on to open up the national Campeanato Brasileiro Saturday, May 25 against Vitoria.

The top four finishers from that competitoin qualify for the Copa Libertadores, the top club competition in South America.  

Congratulations to Sport Club Internacional from the Chicago Fire!

07 May 3:11 pm

UPDATE! The Chicago City Council voted unanimously to pass the the below resolution Tuesday morning.


The Chicago Fire today took part in hearings regarding a historic resolution regarding LGBT athletes to be introduced for passage by the Chicago City Council on Wednesday.

The Fire were represented at Tuesday’s hearings by Senior Director of Communications Dan Lobring who brought to light the club’s support for Robbie Rogers, participation with Equality Illinois in the 2012 Chicago LGBT Pride Parade and Section 8 Chicago’s “Our Diversity, Our Strength” tifo displayed prior to a game against the Houston Dynamo on April 15, 2012.

Sponsored in tandem by Alderman Joe Moore, the City Council’s Human Rights Committee and The Last Closet, should Wednesday’s resolution pass, Chicago would become the second city after San Francisco to declare its backing for LGBT athletes.

The end goal of the resolution is to ultimately get commissioners of all major North American sports leagues to state publicly their support for LGBT athletes, invite them to come out and pledge to make them safe and accepted. 

For more information on Wednesday's resolution, please click here.

02 May 2:26 pm

You could imagine my surprise when I saw the above headline on Grindtv.com...

I thought back to late February when I shot a viral video of an alligator watching the first team train at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. The video has over 40,000 views so of course I wondered what I did wrong... 

As much as I like it when Section 8 Chicago sings "There's only one Jeff Crandall" at Fire reserve matches, I've come to terms with the fact that its probably not true.

I've also come to terms with the fact that I'm not the bravest Jeff Crandall in the world either...

From the article:

"A sheriff’s deputy didn’t bother to wait for a trained alligator trapper to deal with an unruly alligator that was snapping at cars near a dentist’s office in Oldsmar, Florida. Nope, Pinellas County Deputy Jeff Crandall decided to take action himself, since the animal was heading toward the roadway.

According to numerous reports, Crandall grabbed a rope from his trunk, lassoed the gator’s neck, jumped on its back and taped its huge mouth shut—exactly what wildlife officials tell you not to do."

I'd never have done that... In case you've forgotten, this is my closest encounter with a gator...

01 May 9:58 am

Select shots from the Fire's international friendly vs. Club America on April 29, 2009

30 April 9:44 am

The month of May is one day away which means the U.S. Open Cup begins just a week from today.

The 68-team field for the 100th edition of the historic tournament is set, with the play-in round commencing next Tuesday with two matches.

Then every Tuesday throughout the month of May will be a U.S. Open Cup date, with the Fire and Major League Soccer sides entering in the tournament's third round on May 28.

Coming off a difficult extra time loss to the Michigan Bucks at the first hurdle last season, there's no doubt that the four-time tournament champions Chicago Fire are chomping at the bit to get back to Open Cup play.

Be sure to keep up with this year's tournament via the excellent coverage provided by Josh Hakala and his team at TheCup.us

A quick look back on the Fire's four U.S. Open Cup titles:

29 April 10:10 am

Select shots from the Fire's match vs. the Montreal Impact

 

CREDIT: USA Today Sports Images

 

27 April 11:52 am

Our MLSsoccer.com friends Dan Haiek and Matt Doyle give their view on how Saturday's game vs. Montreal will play out...

26 April 9:25 am

The Fire head to Canada on Saturday to face the Montreal Impact (3:00pm CT LIVE on NBC Sports Network and La Ley 107.9 FM) on the back of their best performance of the season last weekend against Columbus.

The Impact rested quite a few players in the 2-0 Canadian Cup loss to Toronto at midweek but can jump back to the top of the Eastern Conference standings with a win. Here are some things to look out for from a tactical perspective…

More changes a right back – Pause or Videira to get the start?

Johnson, Anibaba Preview Montreal

With the retrospective ban handed down to Wells Thompson, the Fire will need to make yet another change at right-back for Saturday.

Arne Friedrich’s continued absence means Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry will continue at center back, so the battle for the open spot is between Logan Pause and Mike Videira.

The latter played very well in that position away to Kansas City where the Fire got men behind the ball and held out for a 0-0 draw.

It could be argued that Videira could have held on to the right-back spot based on that KC performance if he didn’t get sidelined with a concussion late in the match.

READ: Thompson "disappointed" but accepts suspension vs. Montreal

Logan is certainly the more experienced of the pair but if he is moved to right back it would break up the three-game run the captain has had in central midfield with Jeff Larentowicz which has paid dividends of late.

Many fans were upset at Frank Klopas’ decision to drop Daniel Paladini last week (which turned out to be a stroke of genius) but shifting Logan to right back would make room for Paladini to move back into the starting eleven.

Playing away against a team with excellent wingers will require whoever Klopas chooses on the right to be very disciplined and with players like Pause and Videira, we are spoilt for choice.

Pressuring the Montreal backline – don’t let them play out of the back

Under new coach Marco Schällibaum, Montreal like to play the ball out of the back whenever possible. This can be problematic, especially when the opposing teams pressure the defenders and goalkeeper when they have the ball.

On a number of occasions this season, Montreal has been too casual when playing the ball out of the back which resulted in great opportunities for the other team. In some matches, even goalkeeper Troy Perkins was caught out trying to pass the ball to one of his defenders instead of just clearing it out of danger.

Because the Fire are playing away, they will almost certainly play on the counter attack, but if the attacking players like Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald can hound the Impact defense, it could result in a chance from a turnover.

Stifling Di Vaio – cutting of the supply to the frontman

Athletico Coaching Corner with Mike Matkovich

Montreal play with one striker, namely 36-year-old striker Marco Di Vaio. The Italian is not as mobile as he was in his younger days and he relies on his wide and attacking midfielders to get him the ball.

Montreal’s wealth of attacking midfielders like ex-Fire winger Justin Mapp, MLS veteran Davy Arnaud and the extremely influential Brazilian Filipe are very difficult to control and when you add Di Vaio playing off the shoulder of the last defender to that mix, it makes it even harder to contain.

Though he lacks pace, the Italian gets himself into great positions and makes very smart runs off the ball. Against the Fire, Montreal will try and get the ball wide to players like Arnaud and Mapp because the Klopas’ side will pack the midfield when they are not in possession.

This means the Fire must be wary of Di Vaio’s movement in the box and also the late runs by other midfielders who will also be looking to get on the end of a cross.

Prediction: 2-1 Fire with a counter attack goal from Sherjill MacDonald and a goal from a corner by Austin Berry.

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