Blog

MLS Regular Season

09 March 7:42 pm

Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop
 
Overall thoughts on the game
 
“If you look at the game as a whole, for us, we were poor. I thought our whole demeanor wasn’t what we’ve seen and worked on in preseason. Just very disappointing. Having said that, coming back and tying the game 2-2, we fought back, kept going, got back to tie the game, and to give up a set play like that is poor on our behalf. We’ve got to learn from it, we got to move on, but very disappointing.”
 
On the rebuilding of the backline
 
“Defensive set plays is everybody. I haven’t yet seen a replay of the third Chivas goal, but it didn’t look good from where I was sitting. It looked like a free header from six yards out. If you give that to anybody, they’re going to score. All in all, I thought we had a few chances in the game. Sunday afternoon, tough conditions with the heat, but there’s no excuses for us; we have to make sure that we’re ready to play and dig deep when we need to. We should’ve at least gotten a tie out of the game.”
 
Thoughts on Benji Joya’s debut
 
“Yeah, he scored a goal, he did well. He’s young; you’re going to get young decisions. He had a couple of fouls where I thought maybe he shouldn’t have dived in, but he did fine.”
 
On Mike Magee
 
“To be honest, he’s still a bit injured, so I didn’t want to risk him in this game. We said maybe, but I had already put Logan [Pause] on, Chris Rolfe was cramping, and we had already used all our subs. Mike was good for maybe ten minutes but we had to change it a little bit. It is what it is. I think Mike wanted to be part of it today and I did as well, but I didn’t want to risk it and give him 25 minutes when he probably only had 10 in him, and his hamstring is still a little bit tight, so I didn’t want to go there.”
 
If he saw anything of concern
 
“I think just our demeanor especially in the last goal against, our heads dropped a little bit with the two goals against. I think Quincy [Amarikwa] sparked us a little bit, did well, made it difficult for them to play against us, and all of a sudden, they get chances out of that. There are some positives, if you like, but losing is terrible, it never feels good no matter how you look at it. For us as a group, we have to make sure that we don’t buckle under and we’re ready for the fight until the last minute of the game. If you’re not ready to fight, then we’re in trouble.”
 
Chicago Fire defender Bakary Soumare
 
Overall thoughts on the game
 
“It was unfortunate. We worked really hard the second half to comeback; we could’ve gotten away with one point, unfortunately it didn’t happen. We have to regroup for next Sunday and hopefully get a good result.”
 
On Chicago’s spirit in making a comeback
 
“It showed character. It showed that the guys that came into the game, Quincy and Benji, they already played and they gave us a great push. They came out in the right moment, worked hard and gave us two goals to comeback and we let it slip in the end.”
 
On the backline’s performance
 
“Every time you give up three goals, you can’t say you’re figured out too well. Our goal this season was not to concede as many goals, and today we gave up three so you can’t say we did a good job. We worked really hard; the coaching staff has done a great job with the backline, working on defense. We know we conceded three goals today and we’re not happy about that.”
 
Chicago Fire midfielder Benji Joya
 
First goal in first game as a professional
 
“This week, all I’ve put in my mind is to get the debut and get a goal and get my name on the score sheet and luckily, the first touch I had today turned into a goal and I’m really proud of that.”
 
Overall thought on the game
 
“It’s part of the game. Sometimes you comeback and at the end, you get a little bit low and they get a good corner, good cross and that’s what pros are going to do. If you slack, they’re going to come out on top. I’m really proud of the effort of the guys and it’s the beginning of the season and we still have another game to look forward to and we really need to focus on the next game and get the win.”
 
On the team’s effort to win the game
 
“The effort was there, things didn’t go our way this game, but it happens. Soccer is back and forth and you just have to be constant. Things didn’t go our way today and we have to keep looking forward to the next game.”

07 March 9:05 am

Chicago Fire take on Chivas USA and Erick Torres Sunday, March 9 at 2pm CT on UniMas

The Fire are in Los Angeles for the first game of the season looking to start off on a good note unlike this time last year when the team fell to the other team in LA, 4-0. As per usual, Chivas USA’s offseason was filled with turmoil, but there is a new air of optimism around the club after it was bought by MLS. Here are some things to look out for from a tactical perspective.

Fire’s new look back line – how will teams offseason acquisitions work as a unit?

New Fire head coach Frank Yallop was very upfront about his desire for the team to improve defensively this season after the team gave up a whopping 52 goals last year. It is likely that two new additions to the defense will start on Sunday afternoon, with former RSL utility player Lovel Palmer slotting in a right back and former Sounder Jhon Kennedy Hurtado set to start in the middle.

Hurtado’s partnership with Bakary Soumare at the heart of the Fire’s defense is crucial to the team’s success and both players will be looking to continue their good preseason form. In the air, both players are clearly dominant but it will be important that they do not get stretched by the Chivas USA attack especially with a player like Mauro Rosales looking to play balls behind the defense for Erick Torres and co.

Frank Yallop likes to have his fullbacks get forward and support the attack and Palmer certainly fits that style of play. The Fire’s distribution out of the back last season was not a strong point and Palmer’s good technical ability will mean the team will not be giving the ball needlessly back to the opposition as much this season.

It will certainly take time for the new look defense to gel, but a good start and perhaps a clean sheet would build confidence before the tougher tests ahead in the form of Portland and New York.

A new back line for Chivas USA – opportunities for the Fire to take?

Chivas USA overhauled the squad again this offseason but the team that gave up the most goals in the league last year don’t look like they’ve improved in that department, at least not on paper.

The team went undefeated in preseason but it remains to be seen whether this unit can be effective during league play. It is unclear who Fire legend Carlos Bocanegra will be paired with -- Bobby Burling or newcomer Andrew Jean-Baptiste but in either case, if the Fire creative players like Mike Magee, Patrick Nyarko and Alex can get in 1v1 situations, I like this team’s chances.

The Fire could have more luck on the outsides, especially down the right where Eric Avila has a habit of straying too far forward from his full back position. The combination of little help defensively from Mauro Rosales and the attacking threats of Dilly Duka and Gonzalo Segares could pay dividends for the Men in Red.

A switch in philosophy – high pressure replaces the counter attack

For much of last season, the Fire tended to sit deep and try to hit teams on the counter attack but with the change in head coach comes a change in philosophy. Instead of the counter attack game, Yallop has emphasized a high pressure philosophy, with the Fire’s attackers putting pressure on the opponents’ defense when they are in possession.

This tactic was apparent in the team’s final match of the Diamond Desert Cup in Tucson last week where Juan Luis Anangono, Chris Rolfe and Dilly Duka all put the Chivas Guadalajara youth team defense under constant pressure and forced a number of mistakes from the Mexican squad.

If the team can push the issue against the new look Chivas USA back four and force the team into giving up possession, it will only help the Fire’s chances.  Though possession is not always an important factor, especially in an away match, the team will certainly be looking to control the tempo and increase the possession statistics this season and this change in philosophy should help that.

Prediction: 2-0 Fire with goals from Mike Magee and Dilly Duka.

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

WATCH: C.J. Brown says, "The first game we get to focus on ourselves"

31 January 9:00 am

New Fire assistant coach Clint Mathis scored a few goals in his career, many of which were stunning.

There was this darting run in 2001 vs. Dallas that wound up winning MLS Goal of the Year. 

There was also this one-time volley from 2004 while playing for Hannover 96 in Germany.

But if you got this far into this blog post and didn't already know what the favorite goal of Clint's career was, you haven't been a U.S. Soccer fan long enough. Of course you know what it is:

Daegu, South Korea.

June 10, 2002.

John O'Brien.

24th minute.

Deft touch with his right.

Beautiful finish with his left.

Jack Edwards: "That's why he's here!"

When I asked him this question which was very easily answered, Clint, with his Southern Charm, responded like he'd never been asked before saying, "The goal in 2002. That’s one that my kids can tell their grandkids and it’s one of those situations where I have some goals I remember playing in the league but it’s different when you score in MLS vs. the World Cup.

"I think the significance behind that goal – it ended up being the one goal we needed to get out of the group because of the other results that happened on the final day to put us through – you just can’t rate anything higher than that. You can't forget it."

Ahhh, just watch it again:

24 January 10:22 am

Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause returns for a twelfth season with the Men in Red in 2014

A third round pick in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft, Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause had already capped off a decade with the Men in Red last year before extending his deal to come back for a 12th season with the club in 2014 on Friday.

Logan's longevity got me thinking about players that held the longest consecutive tenures in terms of both years and games played ith one MLS club. After some research, I found that Fire legend and new assistant coach C.J. Brown holds the record for consecutive seasons with one team at 13, while Logan will tie Cobi Jones (LA Galaxy) and Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids) when he makes his first appearance for the Fire in 2014. 

A look at the Top 10 players with the most consecutive seasons at one MLS club...

Rank Player Club Years Consecutive Seasons Games Played
1 C.J. Brown Chicago Fire 1998-2010 13 296
2 Cobi Jones LA Galaxy 1996-2007 12 306
3 Pablo Mastroeni Colorado Rapids 2002-2013 12 216
4 Logan Pause Chicago Fire 2003-present 11* 274
5 Shalrie Joseph New England Revolution 2003-2012 10 261
6 Davy Arnaud Sporting KC 2002-2011 10 218
7 Jason Kreis Dallas Burn 1996-2004 9 247
8 Kerry Zavagnin Kansas City Wizards 2000-2008 9 237
9 Landon Donovan LA Galaxy 2005-present 9* 216
10 Jay Heaps New England Revolution 2001-2009 8 228

*-denotes active MLS player

You may be wondering where are Jaime Moreno and Ramiro Corrales? Good question. Moreno holds the MLS record for most seasons with one club, spending 14 years with D.C. United but he did have one stint with the MetroStars that broke up his two long stints in the nation's capital.

In Corrales' case, while he never played for another MLS club other than San Jose after being traded back to the Quakes in 2001, he did spend a few years abroad in Norway with HamKam that keep him out of the consecutive seasons count. Corrales spent a total of 12 seasons in San Jose over three stints (1996-97, 2001-04, 2008-13)

Just for fun, a look at the record number for consecutive appearances for MLS club is below too:

Rank Player Club Years Consecutive Games Played  Seasons
1 Cobi Jones LA Galaxy 1996-2007 306 12
2 C.J. Brown Chicago Fire 1998-2010 296 13
3 Logan Pause Chicago Fire 2003-present 274* 11
4 Shalrie Joseph New England Revolution 2003-2012 261 10
5 Jason Kreis Dallas Burn 1996-2004 247 9
6 Kerry Zavagnin Kansas City Wizards 2000-2008 237 9
7 Jay Heaps New England Revolution 2001-2009 228 8
8 Ramiro Corrales San Jose Earthquakes

2001-2004;
2008-2013

225 10
9 Nick Garcia Kansas City Wizards 2000-2007 224 8
10 Davy Arnaud Sporting KC 2002-2011 218 10

*-denotes active MLS player

19 December 10:07 am

Working hard or hardly working as you countdown the minutes till Holiday Break?

If you're doing either, set aside seven spare minutes to watch all 58 goals scored by the Fire in 2013...

WATCH: 2013 Chicago Fire Goals

03 December 12:27 pm

Mike Magee became the first Chicago Fire player since Wilman Conde in 2009 to grab an MLS Best XI selection on Tuesday. The Chicago native joined an exclusive club of 14 players that have earned the honor while with the Men in Red, adding up to 22 total selections (third highest in MLS) since 1998.

For the record, former Fire captain Chris Armas has the most Best XI selections with the club, earning five (1998-2001, 2003) during his 10-year career with the Men in Red.

See below the club's previous MLS Best XI selections:

26 November 11:10 am

Just eight days away from Major League Soccer's MVP announcement and Mike Magee has picked up another endorsement, this time coming from SBNation.com's merry band of soccer editors. SBNation.com is of course the parent organization of Chicago Fire-related blog, "Hot Time in Old Town".

Magee garnered 14 of the 25 available votes, doubling up on next closest candidate Robbie Keane.

The nod from SBNation.com is the latest in a series of endorsements featuring Landon Donovan (sort of), The Washington Post's Steven Goff and Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney. Let us not forget, Magee also collected Section 8 Chicago's 2013 Supporters Player of the Year Award on Saturday as well.

Joel Biden awards Mike Magee 2013 Section 8 Chicago Supporters Player of the Year award

The MLS Best XI (which Magee is expected to be on) is set to be announced next Tuesday, December 3 while the MVP award will be doled out Thursday, December 5.

Magee would be the first player in the club's 16-year playing history to garner the league's highest individual honor. 

Until then, watch the #MikeMageeMVP video one more time...

25 November 3:04 pm

One of my favorite days of the year is the day the MLS schedule is released.

For many fans, this announcement means compiling a list of blackout days where the Fire are playing at Toyota Park. For Fire fans not residing in the Chicagoland area, it means finding out when the Men in Red will be visiting your nearest MLS team. But for someone like me who has been on quite a few road trips (over 50 but not as many as this guy), the schedule release day means not only looking at the home fixtures but also the away ones.

Questions I asked myself earlier today: Does Toronto away fall on weekend instead of a Wednesday night? How much does it cost to fly to Portland in March? These important questions get answered on this special day.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five exciting dates in the 2014 Fire calendar:

Week 2 – Portland away – Saturday, March 15 

Ever since Portland came into the league in 2011, the Fire supporters umbrella, Section 8 Chicago, has had a very good relationship with the Timbers Army, Portland’s main supporters group. The relationship is based on mutual respect and a shared “dislike” of all things Seattle.

Fire fans are always treated well in Portland and it’s not uncommon for Fire and Timbers fans to hang out before and after the games, something you would never see Fire fans doing in Columbus or Kansas City.

The atmosphere at JELD-Wen Field is also second to none. Though is certainly isn’t going to be the easiest away trip on the field or the lightest on the wallet, I think we will see quite a few Fire fans making the trip to Portland in Week 2 instead of traveling to LA to watch the Fire face Chivas in the season opener.

Week 6 & 22 – Montreal away – Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, August 16

The Fire were the Montreal Impact’s opponents in the Canadian club’s first home MLS back in 2012 and I was lucky enough to be at the game and had a great time.

That game was played indoors at the Olympic Stadium with a less than favorable playing surface – something many of the Fire fans observed firsthand the day before the game when we were invited to watch the team train (see photo above).

Now the Impact have Saputo Stadium refurbished, which provides another incentive for traveling Fire fans who may not have gotten there earlier this year.

Montreal is also a unique MLS city for a number of reasons. I can’t think of another MLS city where fans can brush up on their French by talking to the locals or take in the spectacular Notre-Dame basilica while eating some amazing poutine!

Montreal can be quite cold in April, but luckily for Fire fans, the April date is only the first time the Men in Red visit The City of Saints. I hear the weather is a lot nicer in mid-August, when the Fire visit for the second time.

Week 11 – Columbus away – Saturday, May 24

Columbus or Fire House East as many Fire fans call it is the closest away trip of the season distance wise. Due to this fact, the number of Fire fans attending this match is exponentially bigger than most other away games.

In 2001, Fire fans went to Crew Stadium in their hundreds, even when the Fire was not playing! The Fire had been knocked out in the Conference Semifinals by the Los Angeles Galaxy and many fans turned up to cheer against LA (and for the then Frank Yallop-led San Jose Earthquakes) at MLS Cup.

There have been many highs experienced in Columbus, such as Paulo Wanchope’s winning goal in a 2007 match after the game was delayed due to a torrential downpour. Fire fans were also 45 minutes away from MLS Cup in 2008 but for a Crew comeback in the second half which left Fire fans, including myself, devastated. There’s also the 2012 invasion which saw 600 Fire supporters make the trek.

The Fire only play once at Fire House East this season and I expect to see a lot of red behind the goal on May 24.

Week 16 & 32 Kansas City away –Sunday, July 6 &  Friday, October 10

Kansas City is another road trip that fans have attended in large numbers throughout the years. My first trip to Kansas City was a disappointing one, with the Fire losing to the Kansas City Wizards in the final of the U.S. Open Cup in 2004.

Since then, the Kansas franchise has a new name and a soccer specific stadium. You can no longer play the count the crowd game that we often did when the Wizards played at Arrowhead Stadium.

Most fans travel to this game by bus thus skipping the “delights” of downtown Kansas City and the bus ride does offer one cool treat – a visit to the world’s largest truck stop in Iowa.

Though SKC are not really a Fire rival (despite efforts made by the KC front office to make it into something bigger) there is certainly a dislike between the players and fans on both sides.

With the October 11 game coming so late in the season, it may be a pivotal one in terms of Playoff positioning.

Week 23 – Toronto away – Saturday, August 23

By far my favorite MLS city to travel to is Toronto. It's roughly the same distance from Chicago as Kansas City and again many fans travel to Canada on supporter’s buses.

Each visit, Fire fans shack up at a great hostel where we run into soccer fans from all over the world. Toronto itself is a great city aside from the prohibitive drinking laws on weekends (who doesn’t want to have a pint at 10am while watching the Premier League the next morning?).

BMO Field is located right on the shores of Lake Ontario and is thus left exposed and is often windy and chilly but the warm pies served at some of the concessions stands are an excellent halftime treat.

On the field, the Fire have had some good success against a TFC team that has languished near the bottom of the MLS table since starting in 2007. Thankfully, this match is on a Saturday in August so I expect a much larger contingent of Fire fans to attend.

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