Saturday is sure to stir fond memories for Chicago Fire midfielder Shaun Maloney.
Premier League sides Aston Villa (where Maloney plied his trade for the better part of 2007 and 2008) and Arsenal are set to contest the final of England's FA Cup, the oldest association football competition in the world (11:30 a.m. CT, FOX).
Two years ago, the Scotsman played a leading role in an FA Cup final for the history books, wherein Maloney's little-heralded Wigan Athletic side embarked on a memorable march to domestic glory. With iconic Wembley Stadium in London as the setting, Maloney scored the first goal of Wigan's 2-0 semifinal defeat of Millwall, launching the Latics into a championship matchup with heavily favored Manchester City. The affair pitted that season's Premier League runners-up against a Wigan club that was destined for relegation.
But the FA Cup delivered the dramatic underdog ending that so often defines it, with Maloney assisting on the game's only goal to help secure Wigan's improbable upset over its fellow Manchester-based club.
Watch the video above for Maloney's thoughts on Saturday's Arsenal-Aston Villa matchup or revisit the MLS Insider piece below for an in-depth look at Maloney's raising of the FA Cup. Now, whether or not Maloney's FA Cup success will translate to his new club when the Fire begin U.S. Open Cup play on June 16 is a question that remains to be answered.
Late-game tension. Poise under pressure. Right-place-at-the-right-time positioning and the technical ability to snap home a crucial header.
Yes, Jason Johnson’s 94th-minute equalizer against Columbus Crew SC had all of that. But so too did the effort of Andrew Shaw earlier this week as he attempted to put his Chicago Blackhawks in the win column in Game 2 of the NHL’s Western Conference final vs. the Anaheim Ducks.
With the game already in its second overtime period, Shaw saw a chance to end it when a deflected puck was sent airborne in front of the net. Rather than wait for it to find his stick, Shaw -- who is already notorious for his soccer-like "Sewerball" skills -- went after it with his head and with all the gusto of a target No. 9 striker.
The goal would be disallowed by the officiating crew, allowing the game to enter a third OT where Marcus Kruger would play the hero for the Blackhawks. Still, the Chicago Fire and soccer fans everywhere were impressed by Shaw’s creativity in front of the goal -- and curious about his potential to similarly finish in the penalty area.
We can't say for certain that the members of the Men In Red took any direct inspiration from Shaw's headsmarts, but both David Accam and Jason Johnson tallied off headers in the Fire's dramatic draw on Friday night.
Regardless, should Shaw ever feel the urge to test his mettle on the soccer pitch, he now has the gear and a standing invitation from the Chicago Fire to give it a go:
— Andrew Shaw (@shawz15er) May 23, 2015
Jon Busch has played in more than his fair share of memorable matches since debuting in Major League Soccer in 2002, but there’s no doubt that Friday night’s draw at Columbus Crew SC will earn a place in his all-time ledger.
Busch achieved a milestone that only four other MLS goalkeepers have reached in the league’s 20-year history, appearing in his 300th regular-season league match. Fittingly, the occasion came in the same venue where he made his very first showing on April 20, 2002, while minding the net for Columbus against the New England Revolution.
Only Kevin Hartman (471), Nick Rimando (379) and Joe Cannon (342) made their way into more matches as an MLS goalkeeper. Exactly half (150) of Busch's career appearances came during his five-year stay with the San Jose Earthquakes from 2010-14, during which time he was a two-time MLS saves leader and the anchor for the 2012 Supporters' Shield-winning Quakes.
Busch, who endeared himself to the Chicago Fire fanbase during his ultra-successful first stint with the club (2007-09), was typically humble about the milestone's significance after the match.
"For me, I knew going into it that it could be my 300th but I didn't want to make it a big deal," he said. "But the nice thing is it worked out. The Man Above had a plan and to get it in Columbus, where I got my first-ever start, was really cool. It means a lot to me.
"I've never been one that's big on stats, I just kind of do my thing and at the end of the day if you've had a good career, your stats will speak for themselves. I've had the good fortune to play with so many good players, it's been a blessing."
As fortuitous as it was for Busch's 300th appearance to come in the place where it all started, so too did the stars align for him last offseason when he decided to return to Chicago.
“When in you’re a club like this that has the history that it does, you get a pride for the club," he told Chicago Fire Weekly on Saturday. "Knowing where this club is going, seeing what they’re doing and how hungry they are, it was a no-brainer when Frank (Yallop) and I talked. We’ve got a great bunch of boys in the locker room and now we’ve just got to put it together on the field. That’s part of the challenge of coming back. I have a lot of love for this club."
CHICAGO FIRE HEAD COACH FRANK YALLOP
On getting a draw on the road against Columbus Crew SC
"Any time you can come back in a game like this is huge, against a very good team too. So, you got something out of the game and you come back, and I think the boys are really happy. I felt we, to be honest, we could’ve won it. We had the chances I thought late, but Columbus had a few as well so it was a pretty even game. But I feel that the general play for us was good. Just the first half, I just said to the boys, we just in the final third weren’t as crisp as we should be, but that’s been our problem kind of all year. And obviously you have a couple of chances and you score one goal. So what I liked about it, we had a good chat about it at halftime, the guys came out in the second half and really went to town, tried hard even going two [goals] down, and came right back into it and did okay. It was a good result."
On the second half adjustments made by Chicago Fire
"We pressed a little bit higher. I thought we did a really good job of denying [Federico] Higuain space in the first half. As soon as you go down, you got to push on them and then he really starts to come into the game a little bit. So it was kind of cat-and-mouse, and I thought we did a good job defensively on him, and the whole team actually, Columbus, I thought. They didn’t have that many chances in the first half. But then the game opens up at two-nil and then he starts to come into it. So what I liked about us, we kept going, we got the goal in the end that we deserved and that was a big moment for us."
On the performance of Chicago’s substitutions
"[I’m] very happy. You put them on for a reason. You want to change the game or you see something, we need a little more pace with [Joevin Jones] wide, let Guly come on the field. I think Quincy [Amarikwa] obviously had a great twenty minutes or whatever it was. He was excellent. I said to the guys, well done to the team that started, but well done to the subs. They really made a difference in the match, seeing them sort through and could’ve won the game. So very happy with the all-around squad today."
On starting goalkeeper Jon Busch over Sean Johnson
"I just think Jon [Busch] needs games. I always think you’re not dropping off a level when you play Jon Busch, so I just felt it was time to give him a game and see how he does. Sean has got a couple of little things he’s nursing, but I don’t need to say what they are, but I just felt I wanted to play Jon in this game and he played great."
On Jon Busch’s 300th MLS appearance
"Anybody who’s played in that amount of games at any level, especially this highest level in this country, is fantastic. And Jon is a great pro, he’s a good teammate to the players in there, and he works very, very hard and I think that he’s a winner. He wants to win. It was a great pickup for us to bring Jon in, someone with his experience, and obviously 300 games is a wonderful milestone to get to."
CHICAGO FIRE FORWARD JASON JOHNSON
On his thoughts on his first goal of the year
"Not much. I’m just getting ready for the next game. We are still in the season, it is not like we won a trophy tonight, but it is great to get a tie on the road. I’ll enjoy the little goal I had tonight, but I am focused on the next game."
On the adjustments made
"Credit to the coaches and how they handled the game and the players as well, David Accam to be exact. [He] took us back in the game after we were down two-nil. It was a very important goal. A couple minutes after [Crew SC’s] goal, to get a header from a Kennedy [Igboananike] cross, that kind of gave life and motivation for the players. I was happy the coaches called my name and I am happy to have gotten a point for this team."
On what he can build off of tonight’s performance
"Just keep working hard. There is no area of my game [in particular] that I think I need to improve, because every day you think you can get better, so I’m just working hard at everything I do in training and just focus."
CHICAGO FIRE DEFENDER ERIC GEHRIG
On if this game was redemption after last week’s result
"It’s tough, we were a little unhappy with the past couple of weeks. But at the end of the day, you just have to keep going. Week after week, we play good teams and we knew it was a good opportunity to come here. Obviously Columbus is a great team at home and we knew they were looking to win after last week’s loss, but we have a good team as well. Unfortunately we gave up two but we were able to get back two and I think that both teams deserve a point."
On what it was like to play against former teammate/roommate Justin Meram
"I lived with Justin for three years and I know he is a great player. In my mind I think he is one of the best players in the league. He’s a dangerous player and he can hurt you in a lot of ways but it was a good total team effort tonight. Definitely special seeing Justin on the other side and we talked about trading jerseys. He’s a good guy and he asked me to be in his wedding yesterday, so it’s been a pretty cool weekend."
On acknowledging the fans in the Nordecke at the end of the match
[Crew SC] gave me a chance and I came here as an undrafted rookie and they probably didn’t even know who I was to be honest, but it didn’t matter. They showed me love the last four years and I’ve had some good memories here. I was away from home and they kind of took me in. It was definitely a special moment and they are good to me still, its special."
Chicago Fire fans and self-proclaimed soccer experts tested their knowledge in 5 rounds of soccer-themed trivia at Johnny O’Hagan’s in Lakeview on Thursday night.
Questions covered everything from the Chicago Fire to the U.S. Men and Women’s National Teams, European League stars, World Cup statistics and more.
Chicago Fire play-by-play announcer Dan Kelly was the emcee for the evening, posing questions to fans including: "Who is England’s all time leading scorer in World Cup history?”; “Name three venues the Chicago Fire has called home since the club’s inception,” and more.
The winning team, “Irish Wrist Watch” took home a total of 20 points, with the “Fire Ballers” coming in close second with 14 and the “P-Town Beat Down” coming in third with 9.
“Anything for the Fire, I’ll turn up for,” said Jimmy Garcia, a Fire fan and member of the winning trivia team.
Some participants went home with more than bragging rights, though. Prizes and raffles saw fans leave with a home kit signed by all of the Men In Red (pictured), an exclusive scarf, four match tickets and more.
“Any time you can have your greatest asset, your supports, gather around and talk about a subject that is dear to them, Chicago Fire soccer, around trivia and conversation, it’s always a good evening. ” said Kelly.
Fans can catch all Chicago Fire games at Johnny O’Hagans, including Friday's match against Columbus Crew SC (7 p.m. CT).
New Chicago Fire signing Kennedy Igboananike has scored some nice goals in his time with AIK, including a pretty incredible bicycle kick on April 28, 2013 vs. Halmstad BK.
Check out some of his body of work below:
Though the end result was another draw, there were a few great GIFable moments in Saturday's 3-3 stalemate with D.C. United at Toyota Park.
For starters, Quincy Amarikwa perhaps showed the best finish of any of the 10 goals he's scored across all competitions this year to give the Fire a 1-0 lead...
His celebration after the fact was simple, yet effective...
Then Quincy went and earned this penalty kick, his league-leading fifth of the season...
Jeff Larentowicz redeemed himself for his penalty miss from the week before, bagging his fifth goal of the season...
And then D.C. United did what they did, leading to Matt Watson's first career MLS and Chicago Fire goal...
And the celebration...
NUMBERS GAME: Was Saturday the first time two Fire players scored against their former team? Sort of...
Every season I like to take in a few away matches as a fan and with a Toronto away date finally coming on a weekend again, I did so on Saturday.
The ups and downs of that match are easily memorable and even though the team didn't walk away with three points, the fighting spirit displayed to earn a point at a bolstered TFC side gave positive feelings as we walked away from BMO Field.
During that maze of an exit through the carnival going on at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Section 8 Chicago chairman Pattrick Stanton pointed out to me that both Robert Earnshaw and Quincy Amarikwa scored against their former side Toronto FC and said, "That has to be the first time two players have ever done that for the Fire."
While I fancy myself a "stat man", i honestly couldn't rifle through the previous 520 matches in my head to confirm. With the help of a small bit of free time, I can confirm that Pattrick is right.... sort of, with an asterisk*
Technically on August 25, 2001 Ante Razov -AND- DaMarcus Beasley scored in a 3-1 victory over the LA Galaxy at The Rose Bowl. The reason this stat was asterisk worthy was because while Beasley, who scored a second half brace in that match was originally allocated to the LA Galaxy in 1999, he never played for the side that year.
- PERUSE: TrueCar Player Registry
Instead the Fort Wayne, Ind. native played a couple games with the Project-40 team (a precursor to Generation adidas) and the bulk of his time that year with the U.S. U-17 National Team that finished fourth at the World Championships in New Zealand. At that tournament, DMB was awarded the Silver Ball, as second best player of the competition behind teammate Landon Donovan.
In other words, while Beasley was part of the Galaxy, a lot of his time was spent away from LA before being traded to the Fire for the club's natural first round SuperDraft selections in 2000 and 2001... HISTORY SIDE BAR: The Galaxy selected Danny Califf (2000) and Isaias Bardales, Jr. (2001) with those picks.
So with that in mind I'll make up a new stat...
Saturday's goals from Earnshaw and Amarikwa were the first from Fire players in the same game who actually played for the former team they scored against. A mouth full for sure, but certainly noteworthy.
In my research, I also found three instances where a player scored a brace against his former side. All of these are listed below.
|May 22, 1999||3-1 W vs. Kansas City||Diego Gutierrez 27' 75'|
|August 25, 2001||4-1 W at LA Galaxy||Ante Razov 5', DaMarcus Beasley 64, 93'+|
|June 12, 2004||2-3 L at LA Galaxy||Ante Razov 28', 67'|
|October 12, 2008||2-2 D vs. Columbus Crew||Brian McBride 13', 79'|
|August 23, 2014||2-2 D at Toronto FC||Robert Earnshaw 70', Quincy Amarikwa 90'|
Chicago Fire at Toronto FC
BMO Field – Toronto, Ontario
MLS Regular Season
Saturday, August 23, 2014
Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
Thoughts on the game
“Hard fought, coming back in any game always feels like you got something out of it as opposed to letting it slip. I’m really happy with the fight back and the spirit of the guys. Obviously, quality wise we weren’t quite there yet but the fighting spirit was great.”
On Robert Earnshaw’s debut performance
“As TFC fans know, he knows where the net is. He hasn’t played for a couple months now and he said he probably has 15 minutes in him and I said, “How does 30 sound?” He’s dangerous and he creates the second goal with his forcefulness in the box and he is going to help us. I felt we were very dynamic once Ernie came on and it was nice to see.”
On the playoff chase
“Every team I manage I want them to fight hard. We’ve been in almost every game but we just don’t have quite enough quality in all our positions to really dominate and take games over. We do have the fighting spirit and once we add some pieces I think we’ll be okay, so it’s a building process but I’m happy with the overall commitment from everybody.”
Chicago Fire forward Quincy Amarikwa
Thoughts on the game
“We didn’t make it easy on ourselves but as a team we fought together and we got the draw.”
On the goal
“We were trying to bring them into the middle and then get it out wide for some crosses.”
On the addition of Robert Earnshaw
“That’s what we expected out of him, just to come off the bench and bring some energy. He came on and scored right away and hopefully this leads to more goals in the future. Hopefully we can build a little partnership.”
Chicago Fire forward Robert Earnshaw
On returning to Toronto
“It’s like I haven’t been away. Maybe just because it is a familiar ground and a place I am very fond of. I have been back and forth here, it’s a great place that I like to come to. I’d like to thank everyone at Toronto as I never got a chance to really thank everyone here. From Ryan Nelsen to the whole organization, I just want to say thank you very much. The goal I scored was a welcome to Chicago, but also a thank you very much to Toronto.”
On returning to Major League Soccer
“Yeah, I love to play. I enjoyed just coming in and getting the shirt on, getting a feel for the ball, felt great. I want to get better on a personal level. I’ve come here to give something extra, contribute and help each teammate to do better with my experience and quality.”
Toronto FC Head Coach Ryan Nelsen
Thoughts on the match...
“Well I thought we were pretty comfortable in the first half. Obviously losing Steven (Caldwell) our captain was a little unsettling for us and we were in pretty good control until then. Then that kind of happened and although we had a lot of the ball, a lot of possession, the analytical guys will say we had all the possession, but we really didn’t do much with it. It was pretty comfortable possession in front of their team and they sat back and we didn't really punish them. We had a couple of really good chances and we kind of left them in the game. Obviously we conceded a soft goal and again losing Justin (Morrow) disrupted us. We needed some energy and we needed something, a lift, someone to grab the game by the back of the neck. I thought when Luke (Moore) came on he looked really good and we got ourselves a goal and could have made it three. Then that second goal was horrendous to tell you the truth. We’ve got to have a desire when an opposition player gets down to the endline we’ve got to have midfielders right on top of our backline defending our box. We were spectators, we kind of watched it hoping that someone would make the play but in the end it was a deflection bicycle kick that fell unfortunately to them and they punished us. We weren't in the right spots and we had guys just watching in comfortable positions. When you put yourself out of the arena to affect the game, things like this happen.”
On the injuries to Seven Caldwell and Justin Morrow…
“Steven (Caldwell) had a really good week of training and he just felt his same quad on one of the stretches that he made, which he probably made 50 times during this week, but unfortunately in the game he hit it. Luckily it wasn’t as bad as the original one, it was just something that we had to pull him off because it was only going to get worse. With Justin (Morrow) it was his hamstring so we’ll have to get that scanned. When we go down with injuries we seem to do it all at once.”
Does it sting even more that the two goals were scored by former TFC players?
“No, not at all. We wish all the best for all our former players. When any player scores against us it stings. Any former player from TFC we wish them all the best.”
Dwayne De Rosario was dropped from the 18, is it safe to say that you haven’t got what you wanted out of him this season?
“No, not at all. We’ve got absolutely everything from Dwayne, he’s been absolutely fantastic. He’s been fantastic in the locker room and he’s a great guy but I’ve got a premier league striker on the bench, I’ve got a Nigerian striker who would have been going to the World Cup on the bench. So it’s a hard squad to make these days. This is a wee bit different and we’ve got to make tough decisions. Even Daniel Lovitz unfortunately didn’t make it and Daniel has been absolutely brilliant for us. His (Dwayne) position is up for grabs now every time we play. They are under the microscope to play well because there are guys, Dwayne and Daniel being a couple of them, that really want to play.”
Toronto FC defender Justin Morrow
What was the injury?
“I just turned it. I felt in on a longer run right at the beginning of the second half. I just kind of felt it.”
Any idea of how long you might be out?
“I’m going to get it scanned on Monday and see how it is but I don’t think it should be too bad. It’s sore right now but it should be alright.”
How gutted are you to see the team concede so late and throw away points?
“Yes its tough but we have to take a positive out of it in that it is a tie. We do expect more out of ourselves at home and we should get three points. So we are a little disappointed with that but we have a lot of games coming up, games that we should win.”
Toronto FC forward Gilberto
How did you feel scoring in successive games?
“I’m very happy that I scored my first goal at home in my stadium in front of my fans. I feel the team is doing really good work right now but unfortunately we couldn't get the result. But I am really happy with the progress of the team.”
Do you feel comfortable with Luke Moore upfront?
“If you look back Jermaine Defoe scored six or seven goals when we were playing together so it really has nothing to do with my comfort with Jermaine or Luke. I’m happy now, I wasn’t scoring goals and now I am.”
Toronto FC defender Mark Bloom
Overall thoughts of getting back into a full game?
“It was good for me to come off of injury and start my first time back. I felt like my fitness was good and I didn’t focus about my knee at all. It didn’t bother me at all so in my mind I’m back fully fit.”
Tough to see Caldwell and Morrow going down to injury, did you feel some of the energy was deflated when they went out of the lineup?
“Those two guys are crucial to our team. I mean you take our captain and a guy that has played every single game, that is definitely hard. It takes away the heart of our defence but we have the players to cover them and I thought we did well. Unfortunately we gave up two goals.”
Select shots from the Fire's 2-2 draw with Toronto FC.