Logan Pause makes presence felt in more ways than one with Fire


Logan Pause makes presence felt in more ways than one with Fire

When Logan Pause’s decision to bring down the curtain on a 12-year professional career was announced in the closing stages of the 2014 season, Fire fans and teammates alike were forced to say goodbye to a veteran presence on the field and in the locker room.

Ten days after receiving a fitting send-off with the Men in Red in the team’s 2-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo on October 24, 2014, Pause was named vice president and assumed his duties a month later.

Fast-forward nearly 12 months later and you’ll find Pause, 34, and that veteran presence back in familiar territory.

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“There was a learning curve, moving upstairs from being on the field as long as I had,” Pause said Thursday, “but I have a great team of people that are patient and helpful in terms of bringing me up to speed, and finding where my niche is and where I add the most value.

“The last couple weeks has looked different in terms of being back on the field, but I would say that just the lessons and the experience of upstairs, of being able to see things at a 30,000-foot level and what it takes to put things together behind the scenes has definitely helped.”

From putting his arm around players to continuing to learn the ins and outs of the organization in a newfound role in the front office, Pause, who will serve on an interim coaching basis as the right-hand man to Brian Bliss until at least the end of the season, is instilling an infectious attitude and building on it.

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A member of the Chicago Fire Foundation Board of Directors since 2009, Pause has embraced the club’s core values over time and, on Sunday, tackled his first marathon. He completed the 26.2-mile Bank of America Chicago Marathon in 3:45:05, and helped raise funds for the club’s charitable arm.

“It’s something that’s massive for this club in terms of not only raising money through the marathon, but being engrained in the community with our youth,” Pause added of his affiliation with the Chicago Fire Foundation. “Our foundation specifically spearheads that, but everyone that’s part of this organization feels the responsibility and the privilege to be able to be a part of the P.L.A.Y.S. Program, and all these different things that are helping grow soccer in our country and helping pour into our youth in our city.”  

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.