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11 March 12:04 pm

A stroll through my Google Alerts this morning leads me to wish a big congrats to former Fire captain Chris Armas on his induction with the inaugural class into the Long Island Soccer Hall of Fame this past Saturday.

The second captain in club history, the Brentwood, N.Y. product racked up 273 competitve appearances (4th all-time) along with 12 goals and 50 assists (2nd all-time) in his 10 seasons in Chicago. He joins C.J. Brown and Zach Thornton as the only three players in club history to be part of all six domestic championships and is one of seven men enshrined in the Ring of Fire.

PERUSE: TrueCar Player Registry

I did some further digging and found out that although he was unable to be in attendance at Saturday's ceremony, Fire owner and Long Island native Andrew Hautpman helped support the event by purchasing a table at the dinner and had this letter read to honor Armas' career achievements and contributions to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club:

Greetings Fellow Long Islanders –

I wanted to extend heartfelt congratulations to Shep Messing, Paul LeSueur, Kim Wyant and Chris Armas for your induction into the Long Island Soccer Player Hall of Fame. Your contributions to the sport of soccer and to Long Island have helped shape the game and our community in positive and powerful ways.

I apologize for not being able to attend tonight’s event (ironically, it's the home opener for my beloved Chicago Fire!).  Speaking of which, I would especially like to acknowledge and thank the 'one and only' Chris Armas for his efforts with the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Chris is the type of individual who has always done things the right way. His industriousness, talent, attention to detail and spirit has always separated him from his competitors on-and-off-the-field.

Having also grown up playing soccer on Long Island (in Smithtown where my mother designed all of the patches for the Smithtown Traveling Soccer Club), I immediately bonded and felt a closeness with Chris, not to mention having also admired his approach to the game. Chris is as hard working a player you will ever encounter and is perhaps the best holding midfielder of his generation. Despite winning five domestic trophies, being a five-time Best XI midfielder and earning 66 appearances with the U.S. Men’s National Team, Chris remains humble and true to his Long Island roots.

Before owning the Fire, I always looked at Chris as someone who exemplified all of the characteristics I valued in a soccer player.  Once I was leading the club, I realized that Chris exemplifies all of the characteristics I value in a person. Chris is a trusting and caring individual who treats everyone with the utmost respect and tries to do the right thing...always. Above all, he is a committed family man and a wonderful human being.

Chris, thanks for your spectacular contributions to the game of soccer, to Long Island and to the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. I’m am truly honored to have gotten to know you and consider you a trusted colleague and a friend.

Again, congratulations to all of those being honored tonight  -- I look forward to seeing the Hall of Fame grow from strength to strength.

Best regards,

Andrew Hauptman 

Hopefully Saturday's recognition for Chris isn't the only Hall of Fame he enters in 2013. Armas, who made 66 appearances and scored two goals for the U.S. Men's National team, was once again on the ballot for the U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame this year.

The announcement on the 2013 class is set to come later this month...

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.

08 March 8:38 am

You may want to pick up a copy of RedEye today... 

Sean Johnson's on the cover and featured in a story about how amazing he is... Also check out page 16 where Chris Rolfe takes part in the Five on Five!

07 March 3:07 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...