Fire

Fire trade Patrick Nyarko to D.C. United

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Fire trade Patrick Nyarko to D.C. United

Fire fans are anxiously awaiting incoming players this offseason, but first another player has departed the club.

Patrick Nyarko was traded to D.C. United for a second round pick, it was announced on Wednesday.

The pick the Fire acquired is the 13th pick in the second round, 33rd overall. The Fire’s natural second round pick was traded to Orlando for Eric Gehrig last offseason.

The 29-year-old midfielder was the longest serving active member of the club after making 221 appearances for the Fire since being drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. He is seventh on the club’s all-time appearance list. He tallied 23 goals and 41 assists in his Fire career.

Nyarko posted a letter to Fire fans on twitter and on the Fire’s website thanking fans and the club for his time in Chicago.

“No amount of words can describe my appreciation to you,” Nyarko said in the letter. “You have given a little kid from a small town in Ghana the opportunity to realize his dream of playing the game he has loved his entire life. For the past eight years I have been living this dream, but unfortunately that time has come to a halt. I have always embraced challenges.

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“At this particular point in my career these challenges take me to another city, and another club. I take consolation knowing that I call Chicago home and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I will forever cherish the experiences and memories that I have accumulated during my time here.”

This past season Nyarko made 19 appearances in MLS play, 14 of which were starts, scored three goals and had four assists. He also scored and had an assist in the U.S. Open Cup. Nyarko made his 2015 debut on June 30 in the U.S. Open Cup after recovering from a torn ACL suffered in 2014.

Nyarko gets to return to the D.C. area after playing collegiately at Virginia Tech for three years.

The Fire now are down to 14 players under contract, and that includes rookie homegrown signings Joey Calistri and Drew Conner and second-year players Patrick Doody, Collin Fernandez and Kingsley Bryce, who combined for eight appearances last year. Nyarko’s departure means that Eric Gehrig, at 28 years old, is now the oldest player on the team. Only Sean Johnson and Harry Shipp have been on the Fire since 2014 and only Johnson since 2013.

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.