Fire

Fire's David Accam among MLS' All-Star snubs

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USA TODAY

Fire's David Accam among MLS' All-Star snubs

All-Star snubs are a tradition in American sports and Major League Soccer is no exception.

Even with four Chicago Fire players on the MLS All-Star Game roster, more than any other team, the Fire have one of the most notable snubs from the roster.

David Accam’s 10 goals and seven assists puts him among the league’s best in both categories. He is the only player to rank in the top five of both stats.

Accam not making the MLS All-Star roster is definitely a snub when considering Giovani dos Santos was included with six goals and an assist. That’s decent production, but doesn’t compare to Accam’s as a similar position.

“Decisions that we had to make on the roster wasn’t easy,” Fire and All-Star coach Veljko Paunovic said. “Obviously there are a lot of players around the league that deserve to be there and did very well, but there are also limitations and taking everything in consideration.”

Accam being one of the first names to make any list of All-Star snubs puts Paunovic in an awkward position. In the drama-filled world of social media, Accam retweeted mentions of his snub from former teammate Mike Magee and current LA Galaxy winger Ema Boateng.


Last week, before selections were made, Accam didn’t make it sound like getting into the All-Star Game was particularly important to him. He said it would be “a bonus,” but “nothing changes” if not. Now he’s retweeting players saying he was snubbed from the team.

Paunovic was asked about Accam’s exclusion on Tuesday.

“It’s not easy when you have to pick guys from your team and some guys that you also think they deserve to be there you can’t just because of the limitations,” he said. “That’s how it is. I think that’s important and everyone understands and that being an all-star, it’s not only being an all-star player for one game. You have to understand that all-star should be the habit. The stars, the great players always perform well. They always have the good approach and they do their best in every single game and that’s actually the mindset that everyone has to have even when there is no All-Star Game involved.”

Accam wasn’t the only one in MLS to take to social media to vent his frustration with not being included.


Kempin’s support for his former Sporting Kansas City teammate was retweeted by Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson.

Paunovic, who picked 11 of the remaining 13 spots after the Fan XI vote gave out the first roster spots earlier this month, admitted the complications of picking players based on a number of factors.

“It’s based on what we see in every game, every week, what we also see in the games we play in those teams that we picked the players,” Paunovic said. “Also we consider players who are playing on the same team who are the tandems in different teams and that’s also important so when you’re bringing the guys who never played together, actually it’s very important to see how many tandems or players that they played on different teams together maybe so they know each other. It’s important. You have only three days so you have to consider everything.”

Inevitably there will be players who get hurt or drop out for other reasons, so there might still be room for Accam, or the other notable snubs, to join the team before the MLS All-Star play Real Madrid Aug. 2 at Soldier Field.

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.