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.
Les Parisienswill 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 from 1998-2000.
The Legionnaires 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 this season.
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 Perovic.
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 month.
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 Cup title.
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.