Fire

Carli Lloyd talks shifting gears from World Cup to Olympics

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Carli Lloyd talks shifting gears from World Cup to Olympics

The United States has been celebrating a win in the FIFA Women's World Cup all summer long.

But less than a year away from the 2016 Summer Olympics, the USWNT is already working on putting the World Cup win in the past and focusing on the chase for a fifth gold medal.

Carli Lloyd, who thanks in part to a hat trick in the championship game won the Golden Ball award as the best player at this summer's World Cup, joined CSN's Vinnie Duber and talked about shifting gears from the World Cup celebration toward Olympic preparation.

"It's been great to be able to play a lot of games," Lloyd said of the benefits of the team's current "Victory Tour," featuring games around the country. "Even though it's called the 'Victory Tour,' the World Cup is over, and it's kind of time to switch hats and think about Olympic qualifying. These games give us another time and another game to improve and to get better. ... We're looking forward to completing the next six games, and then soon we'll be in 2016 and we'll be focusing on Olympic qualifying in February."

[MORE USWNT: Christen Press: 'The Chicago sports world's awesome']

Lloyd has been a member of a pair of Olympic teams that won gold medals for the United States — at the 2008 Beijing Games and the 2012 London Games — and she's looking forward to competing in the upcoming Olympic tournament as part of the 2016 Rio Games.

Competing in a World Cup and an Olympics in back-to-back years is nothing new for the team's veterans, but winning a World Cup and then competing in the Olympic tournament the following summer will be a new experience for this group.

"Well, we've never done it before, not in my career," Lloyd said. "We've usually come off of a World Cup loss and then have had to go straight into the Olympics with extra motivation. But now we've won a World Cup, but I have even more motivation to win another gold medal because teams are going to be after us, they're going to want to beat us and we're going to have to really step up our game and be better than we were at the World Cup. So it's exciting, it's pressure. Just looking forward to it."

The Olympic tournament begins Aug. 3, 2016, in Brazil. The United States women's national team will be going for its fifth gold medal in six Olympic tournaments.

Hear more from Lloyd in the video above, where she talks more about preparing for the Rio Olympics and her experience at the Team Visa Summit.

Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason

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USA TODAY

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

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USA TODAY

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.