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World Cup

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:

05 December 1:18 pm

With his announcement as 2013 MLS MVP Thursday, Mike Magee joined an exclusive list of Chicago athletes that have won their league's Most Valuable Player awards.

Magee's name joins the likes of Michael Jordan, Walter Payton, Stan Mikita, Ernie Banks and Frank Thomas in the Chicago MVP club.

UPDATE! Magee did a short conference call with local media following this afternoon in Kansas City and I had the nerve to ask him what it felt like to be included in such a club. His answer:

"When you put it that way, obviously, it’s amazing. Not by any means am I calling myself Michael Jordan or Walter Payton, but to be on a short list or any list at all with the likes of guys I grew up loving and pretending to be — to be on any list with them is a list I will certainly keep."

Check out all 20 of the city's professional MVPs from the Bulls, Bears, Blackhawks, Cubs and White Sox below:

04 December 7:34 pm

Since 2001, the Mock World Cup Draw has been a fixture of sorts in the Crandall Household. Let’s be real though, the scale of it was quite small and usually just consisted of me pulling names out of a hat alone in my room.

Alas, Wednesday I took advantage of the soccer constituency available around the club’s Toyota Park office and welcomed my co-workers to the 2014 Chicago Fire Mock World Cup draw in Conference Room 1...

Chicago Fire 2014 Mock World Cup draw

All of the spelled out procedures for Friday’s draw were followed, such as pulling the odd ninth team out of the European Pot. Fire Season Ticket Services Representative Emily Morris assisted with this and randomly selected England.

We also automatically placed hosts Brazil into Group A…

Chicago Fire 2014 Mock World Cup draw

And then began placing the remaining seven seeds into their groups...

Which ended up looking like this...

Then in order to place England into a group, we put the four South American teams back into a Pot, and drew....

Finally, we drew the mixed South America/Africa pot and came away with this grouping...

Emily then began to draw the mixed CONCACAF/AFC pot...With many in the room holding U.S. and Mexico cheering interests, this proved most dramatic...

 

The European pot was the last to be drawn, adding to the drama and finality of the mock draw. A proud U.S. Men's National Team supporter, Emily was left doing this face after completing the draw...

And this is why...

Suffice to say, no U.S. fan came away from this exercise doing this...

...but thankfully, I'm not Sepp Blatter and this thing was just for fun.

Do your own mock draw ahead of Friday's official event (the spelled out procedures can be found here). Then join us for our World Cup Draw Bracket Brunch Friday from 10am-noon at Fado (100 W. Grand Ave.).

04 December 10:29 am

FIFA revealed the pots and procedures for the 2014 FIFA World Cup draw set to be held Friday morning in Coasta do Sauipe, Brazil.

The Pots:

Pot 1 (Seeds): Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, Colombia, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Uruguay
Pot 2 (CAF/CONMEBOL): Algeria, Cameroon, Chile, Ecuador, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria
Pot 3 (AFC/CONCACAF): Australia, Costa Rica, Honduras, Iran, Japan, Mexico, South Korea, USA
Pot 4 (UEFA): Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, England, France, Greece, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Russia*

The procedure:

Step One: This is really the only variation from the previous wisdom on the draw. Instead of putting the lowest seeded team (in this case France) into Pot 2, FIFA will randomly draw one team out of Pot 4 to go into the mix CAF/CONMEBOL group of teams.

Step Two: Pot 1 will be drawn with Brazil automatically going into Group A. The rest of the seeded teams will be randomly drawn into Groups B-H and will also automatically take Position 1 (B1, C1, D1, etc…) in their group. This is important because there is already a set schedule which corresponds to each group position.

Step Three: With a mixed pot of three confederations, Pot 2 would run the risk of breaking FIFA’s rule of geographic separation which keeps nations from the same confederation (outside of two from UEFA) from being in the same group. In order to avoid having three European teams, there will be an additional “Pot X” featuring the four seeded South American teams. The country drawn out of this pot will automatically be grouped with the carryover UEFA team in the already established group.

Pot two will then be drawn, with all countries being pulled with a corresponding number to assign their group position. In the event that Chile or Ecuador is drawn into a South American seeded group, that group will be skipped with the country going into the next available (European seeded) group.

Step Four: Draw pots three and four.

Step Five: Celebrate or mourn your country’s prospects for next summer in Brazil.

Watch all the drama go down with your fellow lovers of the "Beautiful Game" at our World Cup Bracket Brunch this Friday from 10am-noon at Fado (100 W. Grand Avenue)! Stay tuned to Chicago-Fire.com as we'll conduct our own mock draw later on Wednesday.

Chicago Fire 2014 World Cup Bracket Brunch on Friday, December 6 at Fado Irish Pub

21 November 10:38 am

On Friday, December 6, we'll all gather at Fado's for the club's "Bracket Brunch" with great hopes and prizes on the line for the FIFA World Cup draw. 

There's plenty to get you started on your "Drawology" now, with the below graphic representing the suspected four pots that FIFA representatives (or perhaps Brazilian celebrities) will use to determine the eight groups for the tournament.

What you should know…

  • It should be noted that the only confirmed pot are the seeded teams in Pot #1, which features the hosts Brazil and the next seven best teams according to October’s FIFA Ranking.
     
  • For the second straight World Cup, FIFA has somewhat controversially gone by October’s FIFA rankings to determine seeds, rather than the previous formula which factored in both FIFA rankings along with nation’s finishes at the previous two or three tournaments.
     
  • The change wasn’t felt quite as heavily for the 2010 World Cup as traditional powers like Italy, The Netherlands and England all remained seeds. Those countries have been upended this time around in Pot #1 by the likes of Switzerland, Colombia and Belgium.
     
  • The mix of CONCACAF/AFC (Pot #2) seems likely as both confederations have four teams each to make a round group of eight.
  • The only real question seems to be around which European team would join the mixed CAF (5 teams)/CONMEBOL (2 teams) in Pot #3 . If FIFA continues to go by their ranking procedure, France would be the lowest ranking European team, which could very well push them into the mixed pot, though this is unconfirmed and might not be known until the week of the draw.
     
  • Draw Makeup: Only nations from UEFA can be grouped with each other but only two per group and you obviously can’t be draw against countries in your own pot, so U.S. dreams of getting another crack at Iran (wither 1998) will have to wait.
     
  • DOWNLOAD our tournament bracket (PDF) and begin conducting your mock draws now! The Fire's "Bracket Brunch" is just two weeks away!

So there it is… On what we know (and suspect), what’s the best case scenario for your nation of interest? What's the worst? 

15 November 10:01 am

It's the end of the road for the U.S. Men's National Team in 2013...

Qualified for next summer's FIFA World Cup for two months, Jurgen Klinsmann will take a last look at his side with a pair of European friendlies beginning this afternoon at Scotland (LIVE 2pm CT on ESPN2, UniMas & WatchESPN). They'll close out the calendar year with another friendly Tuesday at Austria (LIVE 1:45pm CT on NBC Sports Network, UniMas).

Here's hoping Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson gets some time in one of the matches over the next week.

While the USMNT can continue their prep for Brazil, a number of European and African sides are still playing for their World Cup lives this weekend.

A full schedule of the games and where you can watch them on the TV set:

Friday - (UEFA First Legs)
Iceland vs. Croatia; 1:00pm CT on ESPN3.com, WatchESPN
Portugal vs. Sweden; 1:45pm CT on ESPN Deportes, WatchESPN
Ukraine vs. France; 1:45pm CT on ESPN3.com, WatchESPN
Greece vs. Romania; 1:45pm CT on ESPN3.com, WatchESPN

Saturday - (CAF Second Legs)
Nigeria vs. Ethiopia (2-1); 9:00am CT on beIN Sport, beIN Sport en Espanol
Senegal vs. Ivory Coast (1-3); 1:00pm CT on beIN Sport, beIN Sport en Espanol 

Sunday
Cameroon vs. Tunisia (0-0) ; 8:30am CT on beIN Sport, beIN Sport en Espanol

13 November 4:24 pm

Chicago Fire midfielder Egidio Arevalo Rios and the Uruguayan National Team are [basically] on their way to Brazil next summer after an emphatic 5-0 demolition of Jordan in the first leg of the Intercontinental Playoffs earlier today in Amman.

Rios went 90 minutes in the heart of midfield while goals from Maxi Pereira (22'), Cristian Stuani (42'), Nicolass Lodeiro (69'), Cristian Rodriguez (78') and Edinson Cavani (92+') gave Uruguay what seems to be an insurmountable lead heading into the second leg next Wednesday in Montevideo.

HIGHLIGHTS:

11 October 9:34 am

Chicago Fire midfielders Joel Lindpere and Egidio Arevalo Rios won't be in Dallas this weekend as they've joined up with the Estonian and Uruguayan national teams respectively for FIFA World Cup qualifying matches.

Lindpere and Estonia have already been eliminated from contention to qualify for Brazil 2014 but coming off one of the biggest results in the nation's history last month (2-2 draw vs. Holland), they'll be looking to play spoiler as they welcome Turkey to Tallinn Friday afternoon (1:30pm CT).

On 13 points, the Turkish side sits one back of Hungary for the second place playoff spot in UEFA Group D, level with Estonia's Tuesday opponents Romania who visit lowly Andorra on Friday.

Arevalo Rios and Uruguay's position in CONMEBOL qualifying is much more intriguing. Uruguay and Ecuador sit tied on points at 22 with the two nations set to play Friday afternoon in Quito (4pm CT on beINSport Espanol). The winner of the match looks certain to have a leg up on the fourth and final automatic qualifying bid out of South America with one round of matches to play.

Getting a win in Ecuador will be most crucial for Uruguay who sit fifth because of the goal difference tie breaker and because they'll close out qualifying with a home match against group leaders Argentina while Ecuador will face Chile Tuesday in Santiago.  

20 July 11:06 am

Long before he reached U.S. Men's National Team and Roma fame, Michael Bradley was just a kid running around Fire training watching the likes of Piotr Nowak, Hristo Stoichkov and Ante Razov kick around.

On Friday night, MLS Insider told the story of Michael's young years around the teams his father managed before becoming a professional at age 16 with the MetroStars.

Watch the segment below and catch the full edition of MLS Insider Episode 5 by clicking here.

21 June 10:01 am

If you've paid attention to Victor Pineda's story over the last year, you'll know that just making the U.S. U-20 roster was a challenge.

The Fire's original Homegrown player came close to making his competitive debut at the end of 2012 before a meniscus injury sidelined him through much of this year's preseason.

Ever resilient, Pineda recovered in time to join the U.S. U-20s and will hopefully take the field when Tab Ramos' side opens up the FIFA World Youth Championships Friday vs. Spain in Istanbul, Turkey (LIVE 1pm CT on ESPN2).

Yanks Abroad's Brian Sciaretta wrote this excellent piece on Pineda's road to Turkey.