I’ve never been on the west coast for “The Big Game”. First time for everything and thanks to the Fire coaching staff, we’ll all have the afternoon off to watch the game beginning at 3:30pm out here on the west coast.
In advance of the “match”, I polled Fire players on who they wanted to see win the game. What ensued was a bit of an open conversation, interjections of soccer terminology and other hilarity…
Jeff Crandall: Hey Steven Kinney, who do you have in Wednesday’s “Big Game"?
Steven Kinney: I’d like to see the Ravens win. I’d like to see Ray Lewis go out on top. 1-0 Ravens.
JC: What about you Chris Rolfe?
Chris Rolfe: I have Coach Harbaugh.
JC: The Gaffer has already been joking about that... You can’t steal his thunder.
Chris Rolfe: Who’s playing? I like the 49ers. Tied: 1-1.
JC: Why do you think the 49ers?
Chris Rolfe: Because we’re in Northern California
JC: We’re in Southern California.
Logan Pause: We did drive an hour and a half north of LAX but we’re still in Southern California. California’s a big state.
JC: Who do you have winning the Super Bowl, el capitan?
Logan Pause: I have the Baltimore Ravens Football Club. 2-1 Ravens.
JC: When did they add FC to the title? Why do you have them?
Logan Pause: They’re on a great run right now, riding a lot of emotion. It’s hard not to jump on the bandwagon.
JC: Jalil Anibaba, you’re from NorCal… Who do you have winning the Big Game?
Jalil Anibaba: I’m a bit indifferent because I’m a Raiders fan. I like Ray Lewis a lot but I gotta stay with my Cali team and go with the 49ers. (2-2 tie).
JC: Hell freezing over? A Raiders fan cheering for the Niners?
Jalil Anibaba: I think they play good football. Their attack – I mean its not soccer – their offense is amazing and they’re exciting to watch so I’m going with them.
JC: Arne Friedrich, you’re a self-described “big Bears supporter”. Who do you have in Sunday’s match?
Arne Friedrich: I have no interest in either of these teams. For me it is always about the Bears.
JC: Arne, folks want to know what you think.
Arne Friedrich: If you’re forcing me to an answer, I’ll say Ravens but I don’t like it. (3-2 Ravens)
JC: Hey Gonzalo Segares, you’re from Costa Rica, I bet you’re a long-time 49ers fan.
Gonzalo Segares: Yes, the 49ers are actually my team. (3-3 tie).
JC: I was just joking. They’re your team? How so? Since when?
Gonzalo Segares: Since living in Costa Rica. In the early 90s my cousin was a 49ers fan so he had Steve Young and Jerry Rice posters – since then I’ve been following them.
JC: So you actually followed American football in Costa Rica?
Gonzalo Segares: Yes that’s where I learned how it was played by watching it on TV and then I became a bigger fan when I moved to the States in college
JC: So we’re tied at 3-3 (21-21 in American football). This is about as high scoring as soccer gets. To break the tie, I’ll ask Equipment Manager Charles Raycroft who he thinks will win.
Charles Raycroft: San Francisco 49ers. I like Colin Kaepernick and I do not like Ray Lewis.
JC: As always Charles, you're short and to the point.
There you have it, according to the Chicago Fire, the San Francisco 49ers will be crowned champions of “Big Game XLVII”.
Good evening from Ventura, Calif. where the first team escaped the snow of Chicago Saturday morning to begin Phase Two of 2013 Training Camp.
After arriving at our beach-side hotel, the team quickly ate and changed before heading to Oxnard Community College for a little over an hour long training session.
Notes from today:
- The long-rumored trade that would send forward Dominic Oduro to Columbus in exchange for Dilly Duka seems to have happened according to both players Twitter accounts and multiple reports. Oduro is not in Fire camp and Duka tweeted Saturday that he was headed to join the team in California. Expect an official announcement Monday.
- The Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz also added a significant rub to the trade: the Fire will also reportedly gain the MLS rights to out-of-contract U.S. international Robbie Rogers.
- 2012 Fire Defender of the Year Arne Friedrich trained with the team for the first time after being allowed to take extra time off while the side was in Ave Maria, Fla.
- After flying from Norway all day Friday, new signing Brendan King also trained for the first time.
- It was good to see midfielder Patrick Nyarko do some light ball work off to the side as he continues his comeback following a grueling 2012 campaign.
- Defender Hunter Jumper and forward Maicon Santos did not train with the team Saturday. Jumper pulled up lame in Wednesday's friendly vs. Columbus while Santos was unavailable for selection in the match after suffering an injury in the days leading up to the game.
- New trialists have arrive in camp. A full list will be published on Chicago-Fire.com in the coming days.
That's it for Saturday's notes... Take in some photos from training:
On this day 15 years ago, the Chicago Fire selected defender C.J. Brown first overall in the 1998 MLS Supplemental Draft.
Having spent the 1997 season with the San Francisco Bay Seals in the USISL D3 Pro League, Brown impressed then D.C. United head coach Bob Bradley as the Seals fell to the defending MLS Cup champions at the tournament’s semifinal stage.
Brown would of course go on to be part of all six of the club’s domestic titles and currently holds the Fire record for most competitive (372), regular season (296), playoff (25) and U.S. Open Cup appearances (25) amassed over his 13-year career in Chicago.
Last season, Brown forever wrote his name into Fire history as he became the seventh member of the Ring of Fire, joining Bradley, Piotr Nowak, Frank Klopas, Lubos Kubik, Peter Wilt and Chris Armas in the club’s Hall of Fame.
Throughout preseason, your favorite Fire players will give you a first-hand, behind the scenes look at what actually goes down at training camp. This installment is brought to you by Fire defender Gonzalo Segares. Now entering his ninth season with the Fire, Segares shares his veteran methods of handling the inevitable downtime that comes with preseason training camp. Make sure to check www.Chicago-Fire.com for all the action as the Fire kick off their 16th season.
Hello my amigos from the Chicago Fire. It’s now time for me to tell you guys a little of what’s happening on and off the field for me and my teammates.
We had our first preseason match on Sunday and the atmosphere was great. After a long time without competing in a game, it was great to get back on the field and kick some people. It’s been quite a while since I’ve played against someone other than my teammates, so it was good to get in some tackles and battles.
It’s been good to see the new faces working hard, competing and adapting well with the group.
Off the field there has been a lot of down time so I have been playing a lot of Halo in between practices. I’m trying not to nap during the day so I can go to bed early, so I’m usually on the computer, on the phone or transformed as a soldier, killing aliens on Halo.
It’s been nice here in Florida but I’m excited to go back to Chicago for a few days and spend the days off with my wife (it’s weird to say wife but I guess I have to get used to it) and have a nice romantic dinner and maybe watch a movie with her. I don’t think I’ll enjoy the cold weather but at least I will be at home with my family.
See you all soon and go Fire!
Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson has been absent from camp in Ave Maria but like the past two January’s he’s had a good reason.
The budding American goalkeeper has spent much of the month in U.S. Men’s National Team camp with the gathering culminating in tonight’s friendly s. Canada at BBVA Compass Stadium in Houston.
The Fire goalkeeper joined D.C. United’s Bill Hamid and Houston’s Tally Hall to round out the goalkeeping corps in Jurgen Klinsmann’s camp and like the past two January camps, will hope to earn another cap Tuesday night vs. the Canucks.
Though he hasn't made an appearance for the national team since the side's 1-0 friendly win at Panama a year a go, Johnson did earn a number call ups during the semifinal round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying last fall.
Perhaps a good performance could put Johnson in the mix for a trip to San Pedro Sula as the U.S. opens up the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying at Honduras next Wednesday, February 6.
Catch Sean and the rest of the U.S. team Tuesday night LIVE at 8pm CT on ESPN2, WatchESPN and Univision Deportes.
Throughout preseason, your favorite Fire players will give you a first-hand, behind the scenes look at what actually goes down at training camp. The first installment is brought to you by Fire midfielder Daniel Paladini. Entering his third season with the Men in Red, Paladini hits the town of Ave Maria, Fla. for the annual steak cook off. Make sure to check www.Chicago-Fire.com and follow Paladini on Twitter at @PaladiniXI for all the action leading up to March 3.
Checking in from Ave Maria: Well we are about halfway through our first phase of preseason and things couldn't be going better. Legs are sore, bodies are in pain, but the coaches are getting the best out of the team. As we keep continuing to grind and sweat through the double-days, I promise you this, there is a much bigger plan taking place for the Chicago Fire this year. We played our first exhibition game against FGCU Sunday, which is another reason to be excited. It was nice to go out and kick someone else besides my teammates. Haha.
Off the pitch: Saturday was Ave Maria's annual steak cook-off! Having been fortunate enough to have been coming to Ave Maria for three years now, I knew exactly what Saturday was about. Basically we are in what you call a very, very small town outside Naples Fla. (think The Truman Show). Kids are out playing games, live music in the background, there’s perfect weather, and of course that good smelling steak cooking on the BBQ. And what do 30 or more guys do when they smell steak being cooked? Of course we will take over and invade their small town. But honestly, Saturday was great. Awesome food, good people, and just a great atmosphere to hang out in a little town called Ave Maria. Special thanks to the Mastandrea family for taking such good care of the coaching staff and players on this special night. Until next time, this is Daniel Paladini checking in from Ave Maria.
Throughout preseason, your favorite Fire players will give you a first-hand, behind the scenes look at what actually goes down at training camp. The first installment is brought to you by Fire midfielder Daniel Paladini. Entering his third season with the Men in Red, Paladini hits the town of Ave Maria, Fla. for the annual steak cook off. Make sure to check www.Chicago-Fire.com and follow Daniel on Twitter at @PaladiniXI for all the action leading up to March 3.
Checking in from Ave Maria: Well we’re almost done with our first phase of preseason and things couldn't be going better. Legs are sore, bodies are in pain, but the coaches are getting the best out of the team.
As we continue to grind and sweat through the double-days, I promise you this: there is a much bigger plan taking place for the Chicago Fire this year.
Off the pitch: Saturday was Ave Maria's annual steak cook-off! Having been fortunate enough to come here for three years now, I knew exactly what Saturday was about.
Basically we are in a very, very small town outside Naples, Fla. (sort of like the set of The Truman Show). Kids are out playing games, live music in the background, perfect weather, and of course that great smelling steak cooking on the BBQ.
What do 30 or more guys do when they smell steak being cooked? Of course we take over and invade their small town.
Honestly, Saturday was great. Awesome food, good people and just a great atmosphere to hang out in a little town called Ave Maria. Special thanks to the Mastandrea family for taking such good care of the coaching staff and players on this special night.
Until next time, this is Daniel Paladini checking in from Ave Maria.
Hope everyone's enjoying the snow back home... Just a bit of news for you on this lovely Friday afternoon in Ave Maria.
We're pleased to announce that Sunday's preseason opener vs. Florida Gulf Coast University in Ave Maria, Fla. will be live streamed here on Chicago-Fire.com beginning at 3pm CT.
A nice little recap from Thursday's trip to the beach in Naples. This one is for the ladies...
On how things are looking overall and what’s been happening down in Ave Maria, Fla.:
“It’s very exciting for us to get going after a long preseason. Ave Maria has been a fantastic place for us in past years this is where we get things going for our first phase. Three, four days into it, everyone is upbeat, the attitude from the players has been really good. Our main focus during the first phase, more than anything, is just to get a good base of aerobic fitness. We’re working with bigger spaces, bigger numbers and longer duration of time when we’re playing and we’re doing everything through soccer exercises, soccer specific exercises to build endurance through playing, instead of just running without the ball. So that’s the main focus in this first phase. We have a couple practice games that will give us an opportunity to evaluate some of the players, the picks and supplemental guys, that we have here, and really make some decisions and try to only bring players that we feel, not just to add roster spots but really to add guys, even in those supplemental or apprentice spots, that we feel in this environment, in one or two years, can be in a position to help the team. That’s mostly the focus in the first phase and obviously the second phase will get more into tactical work and stuff like that. The first phase here in Florida is more to get a good base of aerobic fitness so we can push the guys even more in the second phase. The third phase we’ll get more into playing and on a fitness level to play 90 minutes.”
On the situation of the left midfield position with the possible move of Alvaro Fernandez:
“Obviously we’re always going to be looking at different options but I do feel that within our group we have players that have the flexibility to play different spots. We have Alex that can play the wide spot. You have guys like Chris Rolfe who has played out wide at times, also with Wells Thompson. We’re always looking to see if there are opportunities to make our team better but we also feel that we have players with depth in our own team that have the flexibility to play in those spots. That’s why I think its important through this preseason, the six weeks that we have the opportunity through games and in training to put players in those roles and see how they gel with the guys. I do feel we have players that can play out there but if there are opportunities that come up within the league or outside we’re going to look at those too.”
On drafting Caleb Konstanski with the 68th overall pick in the 2013 MLS Supplemental Draft:
“We’ve seen IU play quite a few times. He was the captain of the national championship team and he brings a lot of leadership qualities. He’s a very good athlete. Obviously he needs work technically and with his feet and that’s one of the things we want to see as the game speeds up and see if in our training camp he can adapt to that. But he can play multiple roles. He’s played in the middle but also in the back and also out wide on the right because he’s a good athlete and a competitor. This will give us a good picture when we bring him in. he’s arriving today along with the other supplemental picks and will give us a good opportunity to see him in a much higher level and the speed of play is obviously different. We know the kid well, we’ve talked to his coach, seen him play a lot and the one thing is he’s a great athlete and a great competitor and it’ll be great to see in this environment how he’s able to adapt. That’s why this phase is important to have the opportunity to bring in and look at players and make decisions.”
On the midfield competition and how Logan Pause’s role has been affected by the new acquisitions:
“We felt that that was an area in the midfield that we needed to address and I think we brought some players that have a lot of experience and are very good players in this league. I think they bring something different but that’s why everyone is here in camp. We have six weeks now where we’ve brought quality players in but a lot is going to be decided by what takes place in the next six weeks. WE feel very good with the depth, the competition is very good and the players now, through these practice games, are really going to take the next steps. In these next six weeks, through training and through games, those decisions will be answered for all of us. Obviously, more than anything, the important thing is that we do have depth. Logan is a very good player but we also have other very good players in that spot that provide depth and competition and also have the flexibility to play different roles and positions on different parts of the field.
On the importance of a full preseason for the strike duo of Chris Rolfe and Sherjill MacDonald:
“It’s important. I think with the core group we come into it with a very good base with the additions that we made, I think with the guys that we added from within the league the transition is always much easier. When you have guys from the beginning now with six weeks is where you build a lot of continuity. It’s important, not only in the first phase but in the second phase, where we’ll get into a lot more playing and a lot more tactical work and developing understanding and chemistry, but to have the opportunity from the beginning to continue what we had towards the end of last season, I think that’s only going to make things better. I feel good that we have almost the whole group here together starting to work from day one, especially now when you look at last year to now, last year was nine weeks of preseason and this year its six. The first game is right around the corner so the continuity helps a lot.”
On which of the trialists and reserve players have impressed early on in training camp:
“It’s too early, it’s three, four days in. the one thing I can say is that I think everyone has come in, we provided the players with an offseason program with the goal for them to come back and report for day one because obviously they know that there are expectations and our goals are going to be higher, and so are theirs. So I think with that the sacrifices and the work you do and the preparation that you put in has got to increase. Everyone has come in where they should be based on what our fitness coach Tony [Jouaux] gave them in the offseason to work on. The guys are ready. The attitude has been fantastic. It’s early on. It’s three four days. It’s kind of hard for me to tell you right now. Everyone’s still going 100 miles per hour but it’s a long process and you’ll see more as the guys get heavy legs and a little more tired, now the opportunity where you’ll see from a mental standpoint who can focus and concentrate. That’s been the focus for us from day one that they understand that its’ a long process, it’s a long season and the work starts from day one. What you do every day is very important for us to be able to reach the goals that we set at the end of the year. We can’t let one day go by without a quality training session. We constantly push the guys, we constantly tell them that it’s very important that in every drill that we do that they’re focused and concentrated. Whether is 60 or 90 minutes, it has to be there in training because that’s where you get better. It’s not a light switch were you turn it on come game time. It’s a process through preseason. it’s a process thought the whole week. As a player, the confidence comes because you are prepared to play well. It’s early but I can tell you that everyone is very focused, determined, excited and very committed to give everything they have in order for us to reach our goals and that’s been fantastic. It’s early on but I know it’s going to be like that throughout the year because we brought in the kind of players who have a lot of good soccer qualities and are very good players but also have a tremendous attitude, and positive attitude, a winning mentality and more than anything they’re honored and proud to be part of this organization.”
On the opportunity for Corben Bone to train with Atletico Madrid and how his role changes compared to last year:
“I think a lot of times with players, he graduated from [Generation Adidas] status, sometimes there’s a lot of pressure on those players. It’s up to Corben. When you see him at practice, he’s a kid that has a lot of ability. He’s fast, technical, this or that, but that has to translate in a game. I’ve talked to him many times, myself and the other coaches, to give him a lot of encouragement and to be positive with him. He has to take the opportunities that he gets and make the best of them. He has to be the one to believe in himself and have the confidence because we believe in him. We’ve always worked with him, always tried to give him the confidence that he needs but maybe right now, graduating from Generation Adidas and not having all that pressure, maybe he’s going to come out and not have that pressure on him and with the opportunities can show the quality that he has as a player, the ones that we saw in him. When you do see him in training, he’s a player that could be a very good player in this league. Now that has got to translate into real games and he’s got to take advantage of the opportunities that he gets.”
On bringing in MLS veterans Jeff Larentowicz, Joel Lindpere and Maicon Santos and how they’re fitting in with the team:
“It’s early but I think they’ve come in and they’ve adopted and fit in well really well with the group. I think they’re very focused and guys that we knew what we were getting. Obviously they’re very good players and have been leaders on their teams and they’ve come in here and continued to work very hard in training sessions and earned their respect from that side from everyone else. They’re very good players and good characters. I think their ability to work very hard and give everything on the field and earn everyone’s respect, I think is important and that’s what they’ve done. The transition has been smooth and easy.”