Fire

After waiting a year and a half, Patrick Doody takes advantage of his chance

After waiting a year and a half, Patrick Doody takes advantage of his chance

For a season and a half Patrick Doody waited for his chance under coach Veljko Paunovic.

He finally got it last weekend against Sporting Kansas City, playing for the first time since his rookie season in 2015. He got another start, and three assists, in Saturday’s 4-1 win against New England.

“He still has a lot of things to improve, keep working, stay on the ground, but he did well,” Paunovic said. “Obviously we’re happy with his performance. In the second half he was kind of more relaxed because he was further from me on the other side of the sideline. It was a good performance from him and it’s great to have depth in that position. Obviously that was his second start this year and he’s adjusting very well. He’s giving the team what the team needs, solidness in defense and in attack he’s determined and has that great curveball and great crosses like the one that he served when Michael de Leeuw scored. That’s what we expect from him and he delivered that, so that’s great.”

Doody assisted David Accam’s goal in the 3-2 loss in Kansas City last week. Against New England he assisted Juninho’s first Fire goal, with some help from a Bastian Schweinsteiger dummy, and sent in a pearl of a cross to de Leeuw, who headed in the Fire’s third goal.

After setting up de Leeuw’s goal, Doody’s teammates piled on him in celebration of his standout play.

“I tell a lot of guys, if you’re not playing, one of the key things that you need to do is get the respect of your teammates,” Doody said. “Sometimes that’s all you can do is be a good teammate. Knowing that the guys in the locker room trust me and have confidence in me, that goes a long way. It’s a really good locker room and I’m really lucky to have these guys with me.”

Doody, who is a homegrown player from Naperville, capped off his standout night by dribbling into the corner in added time, but finding room to cross into the box. From there, Luis Solignac collected the ball and scored to give Doody a hat trick of assists.

Doody’s playing time came with Brandon Vincent, the starting left back since the start of last season, going down with a quad injury in warmups before a match in Portland on July 5. On that day, Michael Harrington was the last minute replacement, but he labored to finish the match.

Doody has since stepped in as the start and, while he was burned for a goal in Kansas City, has produced on the attacking end.

“It’s all about just trying to be ready,” Doody said. “Brandon has had a great year, an outstanding year, and it’s unfortunate what happened to him. Through this whole time I’ve just been trying to be ready and grateful that coach gave me an opportunity. I’m trying to keep staying out there, that’s how it is.”

Doody is in his third year in the league and has made nine appearances and eight starts with the Fire. He has spent much of his time with the Fire on loan, most of which has been with Saint Louis FC. Doody had another stint in Missouri earlier this summer.

His man of the match performance on Saturday will help make the case that he can stick in MLS.

“Everyone in here has something to prove,” Doody said. “This is my third year with the team. Obviously being a homegrown guy, it means a lot to me being on this team. I knew this year was going to have to be a big one, especially after how last year didn’t necessarily go my way. I’m really grateful for the opportunity. I have a lot that I really want to get better at, but tonight was a special night.”

Fire rumored to be connected to former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas

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AP

Fire rumored to be connected to former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas

They don’t call it silly season in Europe for nothing.

The offseason rumors that pop up and, in some cases, happen make for good entertainment around the world of soccer. Sometimes those rumors are connected to MLS, whether or not the chances of them coming to fruition are high.

The latest example of this is Steven Goff of the Washington Post tweeting out a juicy rumor involving the Chicago Fire and former Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas.

Goff doesn’t sound very confident in it happening and there are plenty of reasons why, but there are also reasons why it could make sense. In this case, it makes sense for Casillas to be looking for a home to continue his career. When his contract at FC Porto expires at the end of this European season in June, he will be 37 years old.

It’s been two and a half years since he left Real Madrid, where he spent the rest of his career, and he’s not the elite goalkeeper he once was. If Casillas wants to keep playing he may not be able to stick at a Champions League club like Porto, and that’s where the MLS rumors come into play. It makes sense for Casillas to have interest in joining MLS.

On the Fire’s end, the team isn’t loaded at goalkeeper, although there are three keeprs under contract (Matt Lampson, Jorge Bava, Stefan Cleveland) with the possibility of a fourth (Richard Sanchez) also returning. The numbers logjam could be rectified without much problem if the Fire have a chance to snag Casillas.

His experience as a World Cup and Champions League winner (like Bastian Schweinsteiger), would be a nice addition to the team, regardless of age. Casillas was one of the best goalkeepers in the world and won Spain's La Liga five times and the Champions League three times in addition to winning the 2010 World Cup.

The question from the Fire’s perspective is if he could justify the high cost he would likely come with. Goalkeepers aren’t often highly paid players in MLS with the way the salary cap works. More flexibility has been added with more and more resources being given to teams from the league, but the cost of a player like Casillas may be difficult to justify at goalkeeper, even if he would provide another marketing and attendance boost like Schweinsteiger did.

This rumor makes for a good headline, but may not have much basis in reality. Still, there's a decent chance Casillas' name will continue to be connected with a move to MLS until he signs his next deal.

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

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USA TODAY

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

The MLS offseason doesn't take long to get in gear.

The Fire traded Arturo Alvarez earlier on Sunday, the same day which the list of protected players was to be announced ahead of Tuesday's expansion draft for Los Angeles FC.

LAFC will take five players in the expansion draft, which is set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday. A team can only lose one player. Each team can protect 11 players and homegrown players aren't eligible for selection. For the Fire that means Drew Conner and Djordje Mihailovic can't be taken.

The Fire protected David Accam, Jonathan Campbell, Johan Kappelhof, Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic, Juninho, Matt Polster, Richard Sanchez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Solignac and Brandon Vincent.

While Sanchez and Schweinsteiger are out of contract, the Fire have said they are negotiating with both players. Protecting Juninho is a bit of a surprise because it implies that the Fire have some intention of keeping him for next year, or at least keeping his rights to be traded.

The Fire left David Arshakyan, Jorge Bava, Brandt Bronico, Stefan Cleveland, Jorge Corrales, Michael de Leeuw, Christian Dean, Daniel Johnson and Matt Lampson unprotected. De Leeuw would be a worthwhile pickup for LA if it thinks he is worth it after his ACL tear suffered late in the season.

With only five players being selected it's fairly likely no Fire players are taken by LAFC, but it's arguable that de Leeuw will end up being one of the best five players available. The 31-year-old tied for the team lead with eight assists and scored three goals.