Fire

Ex-Fire star Blanco apparent winner of mayoral race in Mexico

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Ex-Fire star Blanco apparent winner of mayoral race in Mexico

MEXICO CITY (AP) -- Mexican soccer star Cuauhtemoc Blanco has apparently been elected mayor of Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City.

Preliminary counts published Monday show the former star forward won 25.7 percent of the votes cast in Sunday's election, well ahead of his nearest rival, who had 21.2 percent.

Blanco ran on the ticket of the tiny Social Democrat Party.

The 42-year-old former national team star jumped into the campaign after retiring on April 21. He had played limited minutes off the bench for the first-division Puebla team this year, and was earlier with the Chicago Fire in the MLS.

His lack of political experience had raised doubts among some.

Known for his pugilistic playing style, Blanco was equally combative at a victory news conference.

''Now I've screwed them,'' he said of his rivals.

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Another soccer figure also got involved in Mexico's midterm elections on Sunday.

National team coach Miguel Herrera, best known for his emotional sideline celebrations in the last World Cup, drew criticism for tweeting slogans supporting the Green Party.

Herrera on Sunday tweeted ''don't forget to vote, let's go with the Greens,'' and ''The Greens fulfill'' their promises.

Green was traditionally the Mexican national team's color, but the ''The Greens Fulfill'' was a party campaign slogan.

Electoral law forbids campaigning by parties on election day, but Green Party officials say they had nothing to do with Herrera's tweets.

Herrera was prickly and defensive about the tweets at a news conference Sunday, after the national team lost 2-0 in a friendly match with Brazil.

''I'm a human being, I'm a normal Mexican citizen, with statements that I can make in social media,'' Herrera said. ''It's simply a personal situation.''

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.