Fire

Findley takes over as Real Salt Lake down Fire

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Findley takes over as Real Salt Lake down Fire

Thursday, July 8, 2010
Updated: 11:31 PM

By JJ Stankevitz
CSNChicago.com

Thursday night was World Cup Night at Toyota Park, so it was fitting that the only player on the pitch to play in the 2010 World Cup scored the game-winning goal.

Unfortunately for Chicago, that player was Real Salt Lakes Robbie Findley.

Findley, who appeared in three World Cup matches in South Africa for the U.S. National Team, scored on a penalty kick in the 39th minute. The goal was not an isolated incident, though, as Findley dominated the final seven minutes of the first half.

That dominance began in the 38th minute, when Findley beat Fire keeper Andrew Dykstra but saw his shot go off the right post. A minute later, Findley found himself in Chicagos box and was knocked down on a hard tackle from C.J. Brown.

Brown was whistled for a foul and Findley was given a penalty shot, which he easily converted to give Real Salt Lake a 1-0 advantage.

Coach Carlos de los Cobos was not pleased with referee Terry Vaughns ruling of a penalty kick on Browns challenge of Findley. There was contact between Brown and Findley, but de los Cobosand the Chicago fans at Toyota Parkvehemently disagreed with Vaughns decision to award a penalty.

I dont usually speak about the referee because I respect these guys too much, but they made a big mistake on the penalty kick because I saw very normal contact between C.J. and Findley, said de los Cobos.

Findley nearly gave Real Salt Lake a 2-0 advantage in the 43rd minute, too. The 24-year-old striker got behind Chicagos defense and had just Dykstra to beat, but failed to get a shot off.

Yeah, probably, said Findley with a laugh when asked if he thought he should have had three goals. But you cant make them all, I guess.

Findley didnt notice any changes in Chicagos defense late in the first half that led to his success. I started to read Chicagos defense, and every time I would check, they would be on my back, said Findley of his ease in getting behind Chicagos defense at the end of the first half. When we had the ball, it seemed like they had eight or nine behind the ball. It was tough to get through them, but we did well and were patient, and things opened up.

Chicago failed to mount any serious scoring challenges in the first half. But a pair of substitutions by de los Cobos sparked Chicagos offense in the second half.

At halftime, de los Cobos swapped midfielders, pulling Logan Pause for Justin Mapp. And, to the pleasure of the 17,847 fans at Toyota Park, Arlington Heights, Ill. native Brian McBride was subbed in for Stefan Dimitrov at forward.

Bringing McBride and Mapp to the field, I think the team had a very good change about possession of the ball and control of the game, said de los Cobos.

They came on and gave us that energy we needed, said defender Steven Kinney. We kept the pressure on them for the second half, but it just wouldnt fall for us tonight.

Kinney experienced that frustration of not finishing first-hand. The six-foot defender saw two headers cruelly bounce off both the left and right goalpost in the second half, the first coming in the 48th minute and the second in the 56th minute.

I was feeling that it probably was not our night tonight, said Kinney of how he felt after missing the second header. We got more chances, but it just wouldnt fall for us tonight.

Chicago continued to develop scoring chances throughout the second half, leaving Real Salt Lake only a couple chances on the counterattack. Real Salt Lake conceded nine corner kicks in the second half, but Chicago failed to convert on any of them.

To be fair, though, two of those failed conversions came on a Kinney header going off the post.

Kinney was robbed again in the 71st minute when Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando got a piece of his shot. It wasnt as heartbreaking as his two header misses, but for a Chicago team that currently sits on the outside looking in of the MLS playoff picture, any good, missed chance hurt.

With 17 points, Chicago is in tenth place overall in the MLS table. The top two teams from the Eastern and Western conferences qualify for the playoffs, and the four next-best teams from either conference will also receive playoff bids.

While Chicago has only played 14 of 30 MLS matches, it currently is two points behind No. 8 San Jose. Houston currently is in ninth with 18 points.

Notes

Real Salt Lake subbed Findley out in the 58th minute24-year-old Ghanan forward Patrick Nyarko did not play and was designated as a substitute. Nyarko continued to experience concussion symptoms from a challenge July 3 against Columbus, according to the teamChicago announced Manchester United will hold an open training session at Toyota Park Wednesday, July 14 at 4 pm. The training session will be open solely to ticket-holders for that evenings Fire-Morelia SuperLiga matchManchester United will play the MLS All-Stars Wednesday, July 28 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas in the MLS All-Star Game.

The fight for which national team Bastian Schweinsteiger's kid will play for is on

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USA TODAY

The fight for which national team Bastian Schweinsteiger's kid will play for is on

Whenever a famous couple in the world of soccer has a child, there are always jokes about what national teams the kid could play for.

The latest such addition to the gossip columns is the announcement from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Ana Ivanovic that they are expecting a child.

Ivanovic, a former tennis pro who won the 2008 French Open champion, announced the news on Twitter with a sponsor-heavy photo.

Schweinsteiger, who played with the Fire this past season, also took to Twitter to share a photo and the news.

Schweinsteiger's future with the Fire remains unclear, but him and Ivanovic seemed to be happy living in Chicago, making various appearances at sporting events in the city. If he returns and the child is born in Chicago, does that mean we could one day see a Schweinsteiger repping the U.S. national team in 20-something years? Maybe the men's team won't be a national embarrassment by then, but then again, if it's a girl she'd be able to pick between the only multiple-time World Cup winning nations (U.S. and Germany).

Perhaps the child would take after Ivanovic and hit volleys with a racket instead of a foot, or maybe he or she will not take after the professional athlete parents.

In all seriousness, congratulations to both Schweinsteiger and Ivanovic.

USL expansion team with proposed 20,000-seat stadium on North Side could be significant for soccer in Chicago

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USL expansion team with proposed 20,000-seat stadium on North Side could be significant for soccer in Chicago

Stadium talk is always circling around Major League Soccer and that goes double for the Chicago Fire, which has been criticized for playing in suburban Bridgeview since Toyota Park opened in 2006.

That's why the Chicago Tribune's story about a United Soccer League expansion team playing at a proposed 20,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof in Chicago is such a big deal. According to the report and confirmed by a USL spokesperson, real estate developer Sterling Bay has purchased the rights to a USL expansion team. The stated goal is to begin play in 2020.

The details of the stadium are not finalized so the features and capacity could still change.

The proposed location of the stadium is along the North Branch of the Chicago River between the Lincoln Park neighborhood and the Kennedy Expressway. The stadium was previously mentioned as part of Sterling Bay's bid to bring Amazon's second headquarters to Chicago. A spokesperson for Sterling Bay confirmed that the stadium being built is not contingent on Amazon coming to Chicago, it will happen regardless.

Further information from Sterling Bay said that "announcements on ownership and team structure will come at a later date." The team does not yet have a name, but fans will be included in the naming process.

A 20,000-seat stadium and a retractable roof will make for a fancy and impressive, but also expensive venue and a USL team as a primary tenant may prove difficult to justify the cost. The location itself would be an easier sell to draw in fans than Toyota Park out in Bridgeview. However, minor league soccer may not excite local residents in large number.

The USL had 30 teams in 2017 with eight more teams planned to join by 2019. This past season, only two USL teams averaged above 10,000 in attendance: FC Cincinnati and Sacramento Republic FC. Both of those are prime MLS expansion candidates and Cincinnati beat the Fire in the U.S. Open Cup in front of 32,287 fans in June.

Many USL clubs are either owned/operated by MLS teams or are affiliated with an MLS team. The Fire switched from Saint Louis FC to the Tulsa Roughnecks as its affiliated club in 2017, sending players to Tulsa to gain playing time as opposed to sitting on the bench with the Fire.

According to the Tribune's story, the stadium would also try to attract other events such as international soccer matches, college football, college basketball and concerts. Rugby and lacrosse were also named in documentation sent by Sterling Bay. Sterling Bay has also yet to present formal plans and still needs to gain zoning approval.

At the Fire's end of the season media availability on Nov. 7, general manager Nelson Rodriguez was asked about the proposed stadium and if he or MLS had been contacted about it.

“I can’t speak about MLS," Rodriguez said. "I don’t know if they have or have not. I have not. I haven’t spoken, been approached by anyone. I’m not sure I would be the person they approach or speak to, but I’m not aware of any conversations.”

The Fire moving to this stadium could be an ideal solution for both parties. An MLS team with an existing fan base would have an easier time drawing big crowds. Boosted by the arrival of Bastian Schweinsteiger and a team that made the playoffs for the first time since 2012, the Fire drew crowds of 20,000 or more six times in 2017. The regular season average of 17,383 was the highest since moving to Toyota Park and highest since the club's inaugural, championship-winning season in 1998.

However, things aren't that simple. The Fire are locked into a 30-year lease with Bridgeview and Toyota Park, which the Fire have played in since 2006. Getting out of that would require a significant buyout or a breach of contract.