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16 February 8:02 pm

Select shots from Sunday morning's training session in Tucson, Arizona: 

14 February 11:08 am

We here at Chicago-Fire.com love a bit of humor and creativity around holidays.

Enter #cf97 supporter Hannah Goulet (@HannahGoulet) who always seems to integrate the Fire into her holiday cheer (see the below photo of her Fire-themed Christmas cookies from December). 

Well, Hannah was back at it today with a whole host of Chicago Fire-themed #SoccerGrams to celebrate Valentines Day. See them below and Tweet and Instagram your own #SoccerGrams to @MLS today for a chance to win a signed 2013 MLS All-Star Match Ball.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That last one... My long line of selfies is finally paying off... Thanks Hannah!

11 February 9:07 am

Mike Magee has racked up the accolades the last year. MLS MVP, Best XI, Team MVP and surely a few other awards were garnered during his stunning 2013 campaign. The last honor he received before heading into the 2014 season was Fire Player of the Year at Monday night's 26th annual Comcast SportsNet Awards, benefiting the March of Dimes.

Magee was honored alongside the Bears Martellus Bennett, the Blackhawks Patrick Sharp, the Bulls Nazr Mohammed, the Cubs Welington Castillo, White Sox Nate Jones. Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita also earned the night's Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mike jokingly thanked the children's charity for helping him get out of "preseason boot camp in Florida" but also for the great work they do with kids saying, "any charity dedicated to children is brilliant".

He also made special mention of Naperville native and Paralympic athlete Alyssa Gialamas who earned the night's "Inspirational Athlete Award". Of her he said, "she's definitely the best athlete in the room."

Watch Mike's full acceptance speech, courtesy of CSNChicago.com, below:

07 February 9:20 am

Following last week's mic'd up session with Frank Yallop, Chicago Fire videographer Leo Flores decided to give Clint Mathis a chance on the mic Thursday in Bradenton.

While Fire Strength and Conditioning Coach Tony Jouaux took the team through their warmups during the afternoon  session, Mathis, Flores and Yallop colluded to play a prank on myself and Fire Press Officer Eunice Kim.

If you would have told 15-year-old Jeff Crandall that one day Clint Mathis would be punking him on camera, he wouldn't have believed you...

06 February 2:45 pm

Today’s Numbers Game features a switch as second-year Fire midfielder Dilly Duka will now wear the #11. Acquired from Columbus this time last year in exchange for Dominic Oduro, the pair took each other’s numbers when they got to their new clubs (Duka taking 8, Oduro taking 11 in Columbus).

This year, with the Crew’s #8 shirt vacant, Oduro has switched back to his regular number while Duka completes the swap. Coincidentally, #11 became available at the Fire when the team traded Daniel Paladini to Columbus back in December.

“Number 11 is what I’ve worn going back to youth soccer,” Duka said. “It’s what I’m familiar with, it’s part of me as a player.”

Meanwhile, fresh off scoring the game-winner in Sunday’s friendly vs. Florida Gulf Coast Univesity, Giuseppe Gentile becomes the first player in Fire history to wear #92.

The dual Swiss-American citizen, who also happens to speak four languages and also shares a name with an Olympic triple jumper, went the Kellen Gulley route in choosing his number according to the year he was born, 1992.

So with that, we have two trivia questions for today…

1)      Dilly Duka  becomes the eighth player in Fire history to wear the #11 shirt, name the other seven.

2)      What four languages to Giuseppe Gentile speak? We’ll give you a freebie: English.

(SCROLL DOWN FOR ANSWERS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANSWERS:

1)      Roman Kosecki (1998-1999), Diego Gutierrez (2000-2001), Billy Sleeth (2002), Nate Jaqua (2003-2006), Thiago (2007), John Thorrington (2008-2010), Daniel Paladini (2011-2013).

2)      English, Spanish, Italian and German

04 February 8:07 am

The Numbers Game rolls on Tuesday with the latest contestants being the center back duo of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni, who were recently acquired from the Seattle Sounders in a trade that sent Jalil Anibaba the other way.

Let’s start with the Hurtado. The 29-year-old center back will continue to don the same #34 he wore for five seasons in Cascadia. Asked why he’s chosen a somewhat “off the beaten path” soccer number, Hurtado explained 34 was the number he was given when trialing with AC Milan in early 2009.

“The opportunity was a special one and it’s stayed with me ever since,” he told Chicago-Fire.com last week.

Though 34 isn’t the most common soccer number, two Fire players have worn it before. Former Trinidad & Tobago international Osei Telesford was the club’s #34 in 2007 while Austin Washington wore it from 2008-2009.

Meanwhile, Ianni has chosen to suit up wearing the #6 for the Fire this season. Interestingly, Ianni and Anibaba weren’t just in part swapped for each other but they’ve also taken one another’s number at their new club as the former Fire defender will suit up as Seattle’s #4 this season.

Asked about the choice of #6, Ianni said, “I just wanted a lower, defender’s number,” but the only two digits that fit the criteria for the Fire were #2 and #6.

Althought the #2 is free for anyone to choose, Ianni says he took into account the legacy of assistant coach C.J. Brown’s 13 years wearing  #2 for the Men in Red and the fact that it’s only been worn one other time for 27 minutes by another Fire player (Wells Thompson in 2012). 

C.J. Brown wore the number 2 for the Chicago Fire for 13 seasons from 1998-2010

In the end, the choice was simple.

“I have a ton of respect for what C.J. did here wearing that number and what that means to Fire supporters. The six shirt suits me just fine.”

QUESTION: Ianni becomes the ninth player in Fire history to wear #6 for the Men in Red. How many of the other eight can you name? (SCROLL BELOW FOR THE ANSWER).

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANSWER: Brian Bates (1998), Tom Soehn (1998-2000), Sergi Daniv (2001), Kelly Gray (2002-2005), Brandon Prideaux (2008-2009), Julio Martinez (2010), Peter Lowry (2010), Jalil Anibaba (2011-2013).

03 February 10:43 am

On the first day of full training in Ave Maria last week, we mic'd up head coach Frank Yallop for a forthcoming preseason documentary. 

What he hadn't planned on was the Ave Maria groundskeeper doing us a solid by mis-timing the sprinklers... 

Watch Frank's reaction below and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos throughout 2014 preseason 

01 February 6:51 pm

The final day of training in Ave Maria saw a spirited hour and a half session before the coaching staff held a Q&A with members of the Florida Fire Juniors club. See photos of the day's proceedings below:

01 February 7:53 am

After nearly a month of training camp and an early January trip to Brazil, Fire forward Mike Magee and goalkeeper Sean Johnson are set for Saturday afternoon's U.S. friendly vs. South Korea at StubHub Center in Carson, Calif. 

For Johnson, January camp has become part of his preseason routine, while Magee's only been to one previous camp, way back in 2005. The 2013 MLS MVP spoke to ESPNFC's Doug McIntyre about his hopes of finally receiving his first U.S. cap at the age of 29 on Saturday and goal of making the U.S. team for this summer's FIFA World Cup in Brazil. 

Catch the U.S. take on South Korea Saturday at 4:00pm CT on ESPN2, Watch ESPN and Unimas. 

UPDATE: U.S. Soccer has announced Magee will not dress for today's friendly due to food poisoning. I don't even know what to say. We love you Mike, feel better.