Accam stars in Fire's 4-2 preseason win against Philly


Accam stars in Fire's 4-2 preseason win against Philly

It was the David Accam show in Clearwater, Fla., on Thursday.

The Chicago Fire winger scored twice and played a big part in a third goal in the Fire's 4-2 preseason win against the Philadelphia Union at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex.

Accam got the scoring started with a penalty kick. In the 14th minute his corner drew a hand ball in the box. He slotted the ensuing penalty home.

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The lead didn't last long at all though. The Union scored 53 seconds after the kick off to score with Sebastien Le Toux crossing into rookie Fabian Herbers, who scored with a back heel. Herbers was a college teammate of starting Fire center back Vincent Keller at Creighton this fall.

The Fire struggled to make a mark on the game for much of the rest of the first half, but the best chances continued to come from the left wing and Accam. Accam broke free when trialist John Goossens hit a through ball to Accam in stride on the wing. Accam blew by the defender and scored with a low finish past goalkeeper Andre Blake for a 2-1 Fire lead in the 40th minute.

The Fire made seven changes at halftime. Sean Johnson, Matt Polster and Brandon Vincent played their first action of the Fire's preseason. Accam, Vincent Keller,
Jonathan Campbell and Michael Harrington were the four starters to stay on after halftime. Harrington moved from right back to left back when Vincent came on for Joey Calistri, who started at right back for the second straight preseason game.

Accam nearly had his hat trick when he broke through the Philadelphia defense again in the 58th minute. He dribbled around Blake, but saw his shot cleared off the line by a diving clearance from defender Ken Tribbett.

Two minutes later Accam created yet another chance, but this one found the back of the net. He combined with Gilberto down the left wing and fired a shot at Blake, which created a rebound that popped right up to Nick LaBrocca. LaBrocca headed in the easy finish for a 3-1 lead.

Gilberto scored a goal of his own in the 64th minute when a defensive turnover by the Union gave Gilberto an open shot, which he did not miss.

[MORE: Paunovic praises Fire's young players]

Alex Morrell soon subbed in for Accam. Collin Fernandez left a few minutes after picking up an injury. He was replaced by Vincent Mitchell. Joao Meira made his first appearance this preseason as a second half sub. Every healthy field player in camp appeared.

Warren Creavalle scored in the 83rd minute for Philadelphia by finishing a cross from the right.

The Fire will travel back to Chicago tomorrow with the Florida part of the preseason now completed. The next preseason game is in Portland on Feb. 21 against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason


Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

Coach Veljko Paunovic still went with a second-choice lineup to start the Fire's preseason match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Wednesday, but the second half featured the first preseason action for Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Schweinsteiger came on for the second half, along with Nemanja Nikolic, Johan Kappelhof and a few other Fire regulars. The German sat out the first four preseason games, but looked sharp in his 45 minutes.

One of the highlights was this smooth move between two defenders:

Schweinsteiger also had an impressive switch pass to set up a shot for second-round pick Diego Campos in the final minutes of the game. Campos drilled the shot on target, but was unable to beat the goalkeeper.

The team did not say Schweinsteiger was injured despite the repeated absences in matches. The Fire have dealt with injuries to Matt Polster, Luis Solignac, Daniel Johnson and rookie Grant Lillard this preseason. None of those four, along with Dax McCarty, played in the 0-0 draw.

The Fire next play Saturday at Orlando in a final match in Florida before returning to Chicago. The Fire also play Tulsa, the team's USL affiliate, at Toyota Park on March 3 before taking on Sporting Kansas City in the season opener on March 10.

Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away


Injuries affecting Fire's preseason with season three weeks away

It may be a good thing that the Fire’s originally scheduled season opener March 3 at Colorado got moved back.

The Fire’s preseason has been riddled with injuries to key players and the extra week may end up being needed to get the team ready for the season. Four players (not counting the already known long-term injuries to Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic) sat out Saturday’s game against Florida Gulf Coast University due to injury: Daniel Johnson (a right ankle injury suffered in a game against Philadelphia on Feb. 8), Grant Lillard (left knee), Matt Polster (left knee) and Luis Solignac (left hip).

Polster’s injury is especially notable because he has had recurring left knee problems since first suffering a sprain in the 2016 season finale at Toronto. Polster missed the first nine games of 2017 due to the injury and missed three more in August due to a related injury.

The 24-year-old, who is now the longest tenured player on the team and the only player remaining from before general manager Nelson Rodriguez’s tenure began at the end of the 2015 season, arrived with the Fire after playing with the U.S. national team in January. He played all 90 minutes on Jan. 28 against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Bastian Schweinsteiger still hasn’t played in the preseason and the team hasn’t listed him as injured.

All the absences, combined with rest for some of the team’s regulars, resulted in a starting lineup against Florida Gulf Coast that featured two players who have appeared in an official match with the Fire. Three trialists and four draft picks started.

Four of the Fire’s seven scheduled preseason matches are in the books. The Fire lost 2-1 to Montreal on Feb. 14. One of the bright spots was a rare set piece goal after the Fire trailed the Impact 2-0. Dax McCarty headed in a free kick from Diego Campos. Campos has been dangerous on set pieces, hitting the post with a free kick and assisting a goal from a corner kick in Saturday’s 2-0 win against Florida Gulf Coast.

Next up is a match against USL expansion team Nashville SC on Feb. 21. Next Saturday the Fire play at Orlando to finish up play in Florida.

The Fire close out the preseason March 3 against the team’s USL affiliate, Tulsa, at Toyota Park before the season opener on March 10.