Fire

Kaka leads MLS All-Stars to win over Tottenham

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Kaka leads MLS All-Stars to win over Tottenham

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Kaka scored on a penalty kick and set up David Villa's goal minutes later in the first half to help the best players in Major League Soccer beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 on a blustery Wednesday night.

The MLS improved to 9-3-1 against international competition in its All-Star Game.

Orlando City's Kaka and Villa of New York City FC are the new "kids" in the league and did all right. Both made their MLS debuts this season and showed their skills in the first half before taking a seat on the bench.

Harry Kane scored for the Spurs, who open the English Premier League against Manchester United on Aug. 8.

Keeper Nick Rimando of Real Salt Lake had a sensational opening 45 minutes before turning things over to David Ousted.

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Ousted, who plays for Vancouver, preserved the lead in the 73rd minute when he made a sprawling save on a point-blank attempt by Josh Onomah.

U.S. national team member DeAndre Yedlin entered the game for Tottenham early in the second half and had a good chance at a goal in the 83rd minute, but sent the ball flying over the crossbar.

The 22-year-old Yedlin was acquired by Tottenham from Seattle and MLS in January. He's trying to make the Hotspur club and a good showing over the next few days may go a long way to securing a spot this season. He could also be moved to another team on loan.

Kaka, the captain of the All-Star squad, converted a penalty kick in the 20th minute after a hand ball in the box. Although Spurs keeper Michel Vorm guessed right on Kaka's kick, he couldn't stop the shot from the Brazilian midfielder.

Three minutes later, Kaka set up another goal when he delivered a pass that Villa tapped in with his left foot. Villa is Spain's all-time leading scorer. U.S. national standout Clint Dempsey, a former player at Tottenham before going to Seattle, also was given an assist.

Early on, it was a frustrating first half for Kane as he was stopped three times by Rimando. But Kane wouldn't be denied in the 37th minute, when he juked defender Omar Gonzalez to create just enough space to unleash a line shot into the corner of the net.

Kane had 31 goals in all competitions last season, becoming the first Spurs striker to eclipse the 30-goal mark since Gary Lineker in 1991-92. He was removed for a sub in the 77th minute and received an ovation from the boisterous crowd of 18,671.

While this was technically a friendly, Tottenham couldn't really afford to treat the game like that because it's trying to get match-sharp with Manchester United looming. The Spurs have an exhibition match against Real Madrid next week.

The MLS All Stars were without quite a few big names as Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Steven Gerrard (LA Galaxy), Robbie Keane (LA Galaxy), Frank Lampard (New York City FC) and Chris Tierney (New England Revolution) all sat out due to injuries.

Landon Donovan attended the game as a spectator. The U.S. soccer icon retired last season after winning the MLS title.

Donovan may have found his next calling, though. He stepped into the role of head coach in the MLS Homegrown Game on Tuesday, his side losing in a shootout to Club America under-20s.

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.