Fire

Fire: Joevin Jones named to T&T's 23-man Gold Cup roster

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Fire: Joevin Jones named to T&T's 23-man Gold Cup roster

Prior to the Chicago Fire's 2-0 defeat to 2014 MLS Cup finalist New England Revolution on June 13, Frank Yallop was dealt three key losses to international duty: Shaun Maloney (Scotland), David Accam (Ghana) and Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago). 

“When you have quality players they get called up for their national teams,” Yallop said. “We knew going into the season that they’re going to get called up because they’re good.”

One of Yallop's newest acquisitions to have made an instant impact with the Men in Red, Jones - named to Trinidad and Tobago's provisional 35-man roster on June 10 - was one of 23 players selected by head coach Stephen Hart Tuesday to compete in the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

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With 38 caps - his most recent coming in a 90-minute display in Trinidad's 3-0 loss to Jordan on June 13 - and previous experience in major tournaments with the Soca Warriors at the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup, Jones joins Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes), Kevan George (Columbus Crew SC) and Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2 - USL) as the fourth MLS representative.

The Soca Warriors, one of four national teams that qualified from the Caribbean, were placed in Group C along with Mexico, Guatemala and Cuba.

Trinidad will commence the round-robin group play on Thursday, July 9 against Guatemala at 6 p.m. CT at Soldier Field. They will then square off against Cuba on Sunday, July 12 (3:30 p.m. CT) at University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Ariz. and wrap up the group stage on Wednesday, July 15 at Bank of America Stadium against Mexico at 7:30 p.m. CT.

Hart, who steered his side to a quarterfinal appearance in 2013, has already begun a residential training camp in Port of Spain. Before departing for Chicago on July 7, the team will set up shop in Ft. Lauderdale on Sunday and face Haiti in a training match held behind closed doors.

[MORE: Fire look to avoid four-match losing skid with result vs. D.C.]

Gold Cup rules allow changes to be made to the 23-man squad up until the day before the opening match. After the group stage, teams that qualify for the quarterfinal round can replace up to six players on the roster.

The exact date of Jones's departure is unknown, but should Hart demand the midfielder join the team's training camp on Sunday, he could miss several of the Fire's July fixtures as the Men in Red enter the fifth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and press on with a congested slate of MLS regular season matches.   

Trinidad and Tobago

Goalkeepers (3): Adrian Foncette (Police FC/Trinidad & Tobago); Marvin Phillip (Point Fortin Civic/Trinidad & Tobago); Jan-Michael Williams (Central FC/Trinidad & Tobago)

Defenders (6): Radanfah Abu Bakr (HB Koge/Denmark); Sheldon Bateau (KV Mechelen/Belgium); Daneil Cyrus (Ha Noi T&T/Vietnam); Aubrey David (Shakhter Karagandy /Kazakhstan); Yohance Marshall (Juventud Independiente/El Salvador); Mekeil Williams (DirecTV W Connection/Trinidad & Tobago)

Midfielders (8): Andre Boucaud (Dagenham & Redbridge/England); Cordell Cato (San Jose Earthquakes/USA); Keron Cummings (North East Stars/Trinidad & Tobago); Kevan George (Columbus Crew SC/USA); Khaleem Hyland (Genk/Belgium); Dwane James (North East Stars/Trinidad & Tobago); Joevin Jones (Chicago Fire/USA); Lester Peltier (Slovan Bratislava/Slovakia)

Forwards (6): Kadeem Corbin (St. Ann Rangers/Trinidad & Tobago); Jonathan Glenn (IBV/Iceland); Atualla Guerra (Central FC/Trinidad & Tobago); Kenwyne Jones (Cardiff City/Wales); Willis Plaza (Central FC/Trinidad & Tobago); Rundell Winchester (Portland Timbers 2/USA)

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.