Fire and CSN Chicago announce regional broadcast plans


Fire and CSN Chicago announce regional broadcast plans

All the details for the 28 Fire matches that will be broadcast on CSN Chicago this season have been announced.

The announcing team for regional broadcasts will consist of returning play-by-play man Dan Kelly, who is in the booth for his seventh season, former Fire player and coach Frank Klopas as color analyst and Paul Tenorio as sideline reporter. Klopas will be a familiar and popular name to Fire fans. Tenorio, a graduate of Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, was with the Orlando Sentinel as the beat reporter for Orlando City SC for the past three years.

“I’m particularly excited with Frank’s new association with the Fire,” Fire COO Atul Khosla said in a press release. “I’m confident that he will be a great fit in the booth with Dan and, when supported by Paul’s work on the sideline, believe that we have assembled a top-class on-air team which will provide unmatched coverage and analysis this season.”

[SHOP FIRE: Get your Fire gear right here]

Chicago Fire All-Access will also be included in CSN Chicago's coverage. The behind-the-scenes show will expand to four episodes this season. The premiere will air on Wednesday, March 2, at 9 p.m.

The season opener at home against New York City FC kicks off game coverage at 1 p.m. on Sunday, March 6. There will be three and a half hours of Fire coverage on that day, starting with a noon rebroadcast of the debut episode of Chicago Fire All-Access. A 30-minute pregame and a 30-minute postgame show will also be part of the coverage. Of the 28 games to air on CSN Chicago this season, 14 will air on CSN and 14 will air on CSN Plus.

“CSN Chicago continues to produce compelling game broadcasts and unique shoulder programming options that is sure to build on the first-year successes,” Khosla said. “We’re thrilled to see our partnership continue to grow through these enhanced offerings.”

[RELATED: Fire release 2016 MLS schedule]

In addition, five games will be simulcast in Spanish. The first Spanish telecast will be on Saturday, April 2, at 4 p.m. when the Philadelphia Union come to Toyota Park.

“The Chicago Fire continues to make an impact not only in terms of growth of their fan base over the past several years, but also in their devoted impact in our community,” said Phil Bedella, Vice President/General Manager for Comcast SportsNet Chicago. “We are proud to be the regional television home for the Fire and fans can count on us once again to deliver expert game coverage, along with enhanced digital coverage, for what promises to be an exciting 2016 MLS season.”

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.