Look back at some of the week's most notable headlines and get ready for a big weekend of championship soccer ahead:
MLS Cup Rematch: Who's the Favorite?
For the second straight year, MLS Cup will see Seattle Sounders FC pay a visit to a chilly BMO Field and Toronto FC, this time with the hosts aiming to avenge their PK shootout loss to Seattle and cap off their record-setting 2017 campaign. The action airs live beginning at 3 PM CT Saturday (Dec. 9) on ESPN and all Chicagoland fans are invited to enjoy the game and MLS Cup specials at Heineken Pub97 (3626 N Talman Ave., Chicago). For all the news, storylines, predictions and weather forecasts for the game, visit MLSsoccer.com.
On Wednesday, the Chicago Fire joined the U.S. Soccer Foundation, the City of Chicago, and philanthropist Ken Griffin to announce the ambitious new undertaking that will see 50 mini-pitches built in underserved neighborhoods across Chicago over the next five years. Part of the USSF's national initiative known as It's Everyone's Game, the project has aspirations of changing the everyday lives of children by providing regular access to soccer and safe spaces for these communities. Read more on the initiative and hear what GM Nelson Rodríguez had to say about the Fire's involvement.
Berry Says Goodbye
Austin Berry, who as a member of the Men In Red claimed 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year honors, announced his retirement from professional soccer earlier this week. After two stellar years in Chicago, the Cincinnati native enjoyed stints with the Philadelphia Union and in South Korea before closing his career with his hometown FC Cincinnati of the USL, where he’ll remain as a member of the technical staff moving forward. Best of luck to Austin and congrats on a great pro career!
College Cup Up For Grabs
Four perennial heavyweights in NCAA Men's Soccer -- Akron, Indiana, North Carolina and two-time defending champion Stanford -- remain in the hunt for the 2017 College Cup, to be contested this weekend at Philadelphia's Talen Energy Stadium. Click here for a closer look at the Fire development alums remaining in the field -- a group that includes UNC's Cam Lindley and Indiana's Grant Lillard and Andrew Gutman, all three of whom were tabbed 2017 All-Americans by the United Soccer Coaches on Thursday. The semifinals (Akron vs. Stanford, UNC vs. Indiana) air live on ESPNU Friday at 5 and 7:45 PM CT, respectively, followed by the championship match Sunday at 12 PM CT.
With the holidays quickly approaching, fans are invited to join Sector Latino Saturday night (6 PM) for their Holiday Toy Drive and Concert, being held at 2004 S Kostner Ave. Sector Latino has joined up with El Hogar del Nino, who provide resources for local children ages 3-13. Suggested toy donation value is $10 and the event (for all ages) features a visit from Sparky and free tacos. Get out to help Sector Latino spread the holiday cheer this season.
On the Move?
With the 2017 MLS season officially coming to a close following MLS Cup Saturday, the first stages of possible player movement are right around the corner. As we know from the Offseason Calendar, the day after MLS Cup brings a brief half-day trade window, followed in the week ahead by LAFC's Expansion Draft, the start of Free Agency, the Waiver Draft and Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Draft. Click here for the details on each round of transactions and stay tuned to Chicago-Fire.com next week for any possible movement in and around the Men In Red.
Give Them A Follow
MLS announced Friday that it had joined the growing network of soccer organizations around the globe to establish an official partnership with Dugout, a content channel offering behind-the-scenes access to many of the world's top footballers. Find them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to see all the latest news, videos and content that will now include the best of MLS and the Chicago Fire.