Fire loan Drew Conner and Patrick Doody to Saint Louis FC


Fire loan Drew Conner and Patrick Doody to Saint Louis FC

The Chicago Fire officially announced the loan deals of Drew Conner and Patrick Doody to USL affiliate Saint Louis FC on Friday.

Both Conner and Doody played in a preseason friendly with the Missouri club earlier in March so this doesn't come as a surprise. Neither player had made an appearance in the Fire's first three matches of the season.

Doody, 23, went on loan to Saint Louis FC last season. He made 21 appearances with the USL club and tied for the team lead with four assists. He earned some late season appearances with the Fire after his positive loan stint, but through three matches this season it appeared Doody was fourth in the Fire's fullback depth chart.

Brandon Vincent seems to have locked down Doody's left back position and Doody only made the substitute list when Michael Harrington was suspended for the March 19 match against Columbus. While returning to St. Louis might feel like stagnation to Doody, he was a popular player in his time with the team last year, even having a fan club named for him.

"It is great to have Patrick back," Saint Louis FC coach Dale Schilly said in the club's statement. "Fans grew accustomed to his ventures down the left flank and his ball services. He's a very good teammate and a nice fit in our locker room. I am eager to watch him compete for his time on the team."

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Conner, who like Doody is a Fire Homegrown player, didn't appear in the FIre's immediate plans to giving the rookie midfielder a chance to play first team matches somewhere will be a positive for him.

"Patrick and Drew need games to remain game fit and sharp,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez said in the club's release. “In addition, we know they will receive excellent training as well as a warm reception from the great fans of Saint Louis FC."

The Fire can recall Doody and Conner at any time during the MLS regular season.

Saint Louis FC opens its season on Saturday at the Real Monarchs.

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.