Fire

Amid recent drama, David Accam doesn't start, but still scores in Fire loss

Amid recent drama, David Accam doesn't start, but still scores in Fire loss

After venting his frustration at not being selected to the MLS All-Stars by coach Veljko Paunovic, David Accam remained in the spotlight on Saturday.

The Chicago Fire’s Ghanaian winger didn’t start for the second straight match. For the second straight match he came off the bench and scored. Also for the second straight match, Accam’s goal brought the Fire to back within one, but was the final goal of the game in a loss.

The Fire lost 3-2 at Sporting Kansas City.

A report from Ives Galarcep, which followed up on a CSN Chicago story about Accam’s disappointment in not being selected for the All-Star Game by Paunovic, said Accam has asked the Fire to let him leave by accepting one of the recently submitted offers for him.

With all that in mind, seeing Accam listed among the substitutes instead of the starting lineup before Saturday’s game raised some eyebrows that the report could be accurate.

By the time Accam entered in the 55th minute the Fire were already trailing 3-1. His goal made for a tense finish. Nemanja Nikolic’s header in the 85th minute, which came from an Accam cross, was as close as the Fire came to getting a tying goal. Only a save from Tim Melia denied Nikolic.


With Accam not starting, Juninho filled in as an extra midfielder alongside Bastian Schweinsteiger and the returning Dax McCarty. Patrick Doody got the start at left back with Brandon Vincent still out with a quad injury. That was Doody’s first appearance for the Fire since 2015.

Sporting KC (9-4-9, 36 points) took the lead in the 23rd minute when a Daniel Salloi shot deflected off Schweinsteiger’s calf and gave goalkeeper Matt Lampson no chance. Five minutes later, a Matt Polster cross caused an own goal after Matt Besler sliced an attempted clearance back into his own net.

KC regained the lead just before halftime when Benny Feilhaber bicycle kicked a rebound from point blank range into the goal. Latif Blessing doubled the lead early in the second half.

The Fire (11-5-5, 38 points) have lost consecutive games for the second time this season. After finishing this road trip with a 0-2-1 record, the Fire return home next Saturday against the New England Revolution.

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

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USA TODAY

As Fire near playoffs, Bastian Schweinsteiger's immediate and long-term futures are in question

Bastian Schweinsteiger has delivered on the promise of a big name star since joining the Fire in late March. He has produced on the field, drawn lots of attention to the club, the team has won enough to get into its first postseason since 2012 and, until recently, he stayed healthy.

However, the 33-year-old German has played 19 minutes in the previous six matches and told reporters on Wednesday that he will not play in the regular season finale in Houston on Sunday. He missed four straight matches with a calf injury before returning against New York City FC on Sept. 30 for a substitute appearance.

Schweinsteiger left practice early with what appeared to be a reaggravation of the injury on Oct. 4 and now it is known that will cost him at least two games. With the playoff picture still in flux (the Fire can finish anywhere from second to fifth in the Eastern Conference), the Fire could potentially face a three-day turnaround and travel after the Houston game or could have a first-round bye. Keeping Schweinsteiger fresher for that crunch of games could end up being a good thing, but it also runs the risk of his match fitness not being at 100 percent for the postseason.

Beyond the postseason, Schweinsteiger dropped this tease of a nugget to the Daily Herald's Orrin Schwarz just an hour before Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez spoke with reporters for almost an hour at Toyota Park.

Schweinsteiger, who was not at training, was autographing memorabilia in the form of soccer balls, posters and jerseys. Chicago Red Stars fans may get a kick out of the fact that Schweinsteiger was wearing a Red Stars hoodie.

Initially, the club said Schweinsteiger signed a one-year contract with a mutual option. Later in the day, when asked about Schweinsteiger's future, Rodriguez said the mutual option doesn't have a set number attached to it.

"That would require a negotiation," Rodriguez said. "It was mutual in a sense of we didn’t want either party to feel bound without having had the year of experience to draw on. From our perspective, our experience has been extraordinarily positive with Bastian. We think he’s delivered across all of our expectations and we hope that we have delivered against his expectations.”

So in essence, there is no mutual option. Schweinsteiger and the Fire have to come to terms again on a deal for the German to return in 2018. That's not to say Schweinsteiger can't come back, but there's nothing in writing that binds the two together for next season.

Rodriguez said talks have only begun in the very preliminary stages at this point.

“The most that Basti and I have done is, both said, hey this has gone pretty well." Rodriguez said. "You like it. I like it... So I think we want to remain with our original plan. It was to look to have the hard discussions at the end of the season. My view is in-season negotiations always prove to be a distraction, whether to the player or to me. There can be a team element if it becomes public.

"I don’t want to speak for Basti, but from what we’ve gleaned and what he shared with us, he and (wife) Ana (Ivanovic) are very comfortable in the city. They love it. I think he’s really enjoyed the locker room, the guys, the support of the fans. I think he’s really taken to the challenge of Major League Soccer. I think the signs are positive, but again we would prefer to have the season close before finalizing anything.”

Special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast: What’s wrong with U.S. Soccer?

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AP

Special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast: What’s wrong with U.S. Soccer?

It's a special edition of the Fire Talk Podcast!

Dan Santaromita, Justin O’Neil, JJ Stankevitz and Tom Cooper try to answer all the questions that surfaced after the U.S. failed to qualify for the World Cup. What went wrong in qualifying, who was at fault, what can be fixed, will things get better? Has any American soccer fan calmed down even a week after? The four on the panel sure still are plenty fired up.