Fire add defender Michael Harrington, goalkeeper Patrick McLain


Fire add defender Michael Harrington, goalkeeper Patrick McLain

The Chicago Fire have added veteran players to the club’s roster.

After adding only rookies so far this offseason, the Fire made official two signings of veteran professionals on Monday in defender Michael Harrington and goalkeeper Patrick McLain.

Harrington, 29, is now the oldest player on the Fire’s roster. The North Carolina native and former North Carolina Tar Heel last played with the Colorado Rapids. In 2015 he made 14 starts and scored one goal for the Rapids.

Harrington entered the league in 2007 when he was the No. 3 overall pick by Kansas City. He made 149 regular season appearances with the club until being traded to Portland before the 2013 season. He played two years with the Timbers before joining the Rapids last offseason.

“With his soccer intelligence and team-first attitude, Michael can start for us in a few different spots,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez said in a press release by the club. “He is solid on both sides of the ball and is an important addition for us.”

[MORE: Recapping the Fire's busy draft day]

As for McLain, the 27-year-old goalkeeper joins the Fire from Sacramento Republic FC of the USL. In 29 appearances last season, McLain allowed 30 goals and recorded six shutouts. The Wisconsin native signed with former MLS side Chivas USA in 2012 and made his MLS debut in 2013 before spending 2014 and 2015 in the USL.

McLain, who is 6-foot-3, is the second goalkeeper behind incumbent starter Sean Johnson on the Fire’s roster.

“Perhaps not yet recognized by many, we believe that Patrick is about to become known as an outstanding talent,” Rodríguez said. “He’s excellent with his feet and he also commands his box very well.”

The Fire’s roster is now at 18. Half of those 18 players, including McLain, have made fewer than 10 MLS appearances in their careers.


Bastian Schweinsteiger finally sees the field in Fire preseason


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


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.