Fire: Magee to miss New England match; Doody recalled from STLFC


Fire: Magee to miss New England match; Doody recalled from STLFC

The standing-room-only crowd of 20,124 on hand to witness the Fire's 3-2 defeat to Orlando City SC last Saturday, treated to another pulsating MLS fixture, also welcomed the sight of Chicago native Mike Magee for the first time since August 16, 2014.

After entering the match in the 83rd minute for Matt Polster, the 2013 MVP's substitute appearance - as foretold by head coach Frank Yallop in the days building up to the match - helped tick off another crucial step in his path toward a full recovery from hip surgery.

Magee resumed another week of full training ahead of the Men in Red's Eastern Conference battle against the New England Revolution, scoring the lone goal in an 11v11 scrimmage Thursday morning. His left-footed curler from the edge of the area eluded the reach of 'keeper Jon Busch, but the forward departed training soon after with a slight tweak in his hamstring.  

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"It's up to him to start getting the confidence back and start playing," Yallop said. "He doesn't lack confidence once he's fit. He knows he's a good player and a good finisher. He's all of the things that you should be. But being out nine or so months is never easy for anybody, especially a player that's dynamic and wants to help the team. He'll be fine once he gets his rhythm. I'm sure it's coming soon but it's been a while."

Before setting off for the second-to-last fixture in a stretch of seven consecutive against conference opponents, the Fire technical and training staff re-evaluated Magee Friday morning and confirmed he would not travel with the team to face Jay Heaps' side on Saturday.

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As a result - and in order to compile a full, 18-man roster to make up for the additional absences of Shaun Maloney, David Accam and Joevin Jones - the club announced loanee Patrick Doody would return from USL affiliate Saint Louis FC after accumulating seven starts in eight appearances.   

Doody, a Naperville native, became the Fire's sixth Homegrown player on December 22, 2014. A Fire Academy and PDL product, the 23-year-old was loaned on March 20, 2015 and was deployed primarily as a left back for Dale Schilly's outfit.

Cup-tied with Saint Louis, he will meet up with them in advance of their fourth round U.S. Open Cup game at Sporting Kansas City on June 16.  

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.