With the Chicago Sister Cities International Cup less than a
week away and AC Milan’s arrival in the Windy City not long after that, I
thought it time to begin previewing the attacking talent that would be gracing
the Toyota Park pitch in the next few weeks.
bring a wide variety of young and old, well-known and off-the-radar attacking
talent. Expect their arsenal of offensive weapons to give the Fire backline
fits on Wednesday, May 19 in the tournament’s first semi-final.
Turkish international striker and PSG’s leading scorer this
season Mevlut Erding won’t make the trip to Chicago due to injury but the
French club is well supported with other dangerous attackers. The former Sochaux striker has been
complimented well by Guillaume Hourau and Peguy Luyindula who have combined for
17 goals in 66 appearances across all competitions this season. It was Hourau’s
107th minute strike that stood up as the winner in PSG’s victory
over AS Monaco in the French Cup final on May 1.
As if the three above weren’t enough for the Fire defense to
deal with, Les Rouge-et-Bleu will
also have former Barcelona winger Ludovic Giuly and ex-Chelsea striker Mateja
Kezman to keep under wraps. Kezman’s inclusion would be interesting if PSG
ended up playing Red Star Belgrade on Saturday, as it was with Red Star’s
bitter rival Partizan that the Serbian international made a name for himself
will feature 28-year-old striker Bartolomiej Grzelak and 29-year-old attacking
midfielder Maciej Iwanski, who have combined for 10 goals in 48 league matches
The striking corps is supplemented with an interesting
inclusion and a familiar name.
Ex-Manchester United forward and Chinese international Dong
Fangzhou will be coming to Chicago along with Jakub Kosecki, the son of former
Fire forward and Polish international Roman Kosecki will visit the home of his
father’s former club next week.
The elder Kosecki was part of the inaugural double-winning
Chicago Fire team of 1998, one of the most memorable and competitive squads in
the club’s history. Fire fans alike should look forward to seeing if the
youngster can live up to his father’s billing.
Red Star Belgrade
Leading scorer Dejan Lekic will be unavailable for Cervena Zvezda after being called up for
the Serbian World Cup camp, but the club will still have potent striking
options in the form of 25-year-old Aleksandar Jevtic and 20-year-old Slavko
Jevtic sits second in among the team leaders in goals scored
this season with 10 in 26 matches. He also scored what would stand up to be the
winner in the club’s 3-0 Serbian Cup final victory over Vojvodina on May 5.
The youngster Perovic has impressed in reserve of Lekic and
Jevtic this season, chipping in with seven goals from 25 matches.
The two strikers will be backed up by attacking midfielder
Vladimir Bogdanovic. The 23-year-old’s four goals stand as the most among Red
Star’s midfield corps this season and the former Serbian U-21 international is
excited for his club’s visit to Chicago.
“I am very happy to visit Chicago,” said Bogdanovic. “International tournaments
are always great challenges and we will try to play good football and bring joy
to our Serbian fans in Chicago.”
The Rossoneri will be bringing perhaps the most talented
squad of attacking players out of the four European teams visiting Toyota Park this
A World Cup winner with Brazil in 2002, Ronaldinho is the
obvious headliner for Milan. The 30-year-old attacker will be joined on the
trip by fellow Brazilian, 20-year-old Alexandre Pato. The two have combined for
22 goals in 57 matches for the Red Devils this season and will be sure to put their
technical abilities on display on May 30.
Milan also has a European attacking flair that they’ll bring
to Bridgeview with Italian World Cup winner Filippo Inzaghi and fleet-footed
Frenchman, Mathieu Flamini to support their Brazilian counterparts.
The all-time leading scorer in European Cup competitions
with 68 goals, Inzaghi has helped lead Milan to two Champions League titles
since arriving at the San Siro in 2001 and helped the Azzuri to the 2006 World
Dutch midfielder Clarence Seedorf has chipped in five or
more goals for Milan the last four seasons. The 34-year-old retired Dutch
international has been a professional for 18 years, playing for storied clubs
Ajax, Real Madrid and Inter Milan before crossing the municipal divide in 2002
and his experience will test the Fire midfield on May 30.