Fire unveil new primary kit with Valspar as sponsor


Fire unveil new primary kit with Valspar as sponsor

The Fire unveiled the club’s new primary kit to fans at an event on Wednesday, Jan. 27.

The event, which took place at Centerpoint in Chicago, was open to fans and had a number of familiar faces from the club in attendance. The new kit, which has Valspar as the new sponsor, is a change back to the old horizontal white stripe in the center of the jersey.

“The jersey is magnificent, it hearkens back to our roots with the white band across the front,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said. “Valspar is part of the Chicago community and I think that’s what makes the alignment so special.”

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A number of Fire players, including Harry Shipp, David Accam and rookie Jonathan Campbell, were in attendance and worked with fans to paint a banner to be unveiled for the season opener March 6 against New York City FC. The players like the new jersey design.

“Going back to the red and white is what I remember when I was growing up watching the Fire,” Shipp said. “Any time you get to mingle with fans, especially we just started preseason, it’s awesome. You feel the energy of the supporters and got to paint a sign, which was pretty cool.”

First-year Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said the new kit can bring the team fresh energy, which the club needs right now. Part of that new energy comes from the sponsor, Valspar. Being a paint manufacturer, Valspar felt the partnership for events like this was natural.

“They’re in our backyard and we really wanted to do something special,” said Joel Wasserman, who is the general manager of Devine Color and Director of Brand Integration at Valspar. “As we started to talk about soccer we talked about the power of color and the passion that people have for color as well as the passion people have for soccer and brought those two things together in this relationship.”

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.