Fire finish road trip at Red Bulls

Fire finish road trip at Red Bulls

The Chicago Fire played possibly its worst game of the season on Saturday so it may not be such a bad thing that the team has a quick turnaround.

The Fire will close out its three-game, eight-day road trip on Wednesday at the New York Red Bulls. The game will air on CSN+ and coverage will begin at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

The Red Bulls (3-7-1, 10 points) and the Fire (1-4-4, 7 points) are the only two teams in the league with more games played than points. They are also both coming off 2-0 road losses against teams with more losses than wins. The Fire dropped a 2-0 game in New England and the Red Bulls lost 2-0 at D.C. United.

Still, the Red Bulls have a lot of talent after winning the Supporters' Shield last season. Sacha Kljestan leads the league with six assists, in part because of his ability on set pieces, which is something that Fire coach Veljko Paunovic mentioned.

“We have to be very careful on set pieces," Paunovic said on Monday. "They have a very good set piece taker (Kljestan) and very good actions. They proved that last year and this year, too.”

The Red Bulls have allowed 20 goals this season, tied for second most in the league, but have surprisingly scored just 13 goals in 10 games after leading the league in goals with 62 last season.

"We know how well they perform actually playing at home," Paunovic said. "They attack, they are a very attacking team. Their style is very direct and we know that the individual qualities as a team, we are aware of that."

The injury list for both teams is short. The Fire will only be missing John Goossens, although Collin Fernandez (ankle) and Patrick McLain (knee) are listed as questionable.

David Accam made his first appearance Saturday after missing six matches with a knee sprain. He is no longer listed on the injury report and could start, although Paunovic would not indicate if that was the plan as of Monday.

“I believe David did very well (Saturday)," Paunovic said. "He helped the team a lot with his one-on-one incursions, especially because he committed so much at their defense. I think two yellow cards were from him. That means that David is coming back."

Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls

When: 6:30 p.m. kickoff with Fire Pregame Live at 6 p.m.


Where: Red Bulls Arena, Harrison, N.J.

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.