Fire

Three in a row: Fire top D.C. on the road to extend winning streak

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USA TODAY

Three in a row: Fire top D.C. on the road to extend winning streak

Winless on the road no more.

David Accam’s goal gave the Chicago Fire its first road win of the season in a 1-0 game at D.C. United on Saturday.

After a scoreless first half, Accam beat the offside trap to break free on a Luis Solignac long ball. Accam curled the shot past Bill Hamid in the 52nd minute for his sixth goal of the season. It was Accam’s sixth goal of the season.

The Fire (6-3-3, 21 points) won for the third straight game during the team’s crowded schedule of three matches in eight days. D.C. (3-6-2, 11 points) has been shutout and beaten in three straight home games.

Matt Lampson earned the shutout in goal without having to make a save in the first 80 minutes. He finished with two saves.

Lampson’s counterpart, Hamid, kept D.C. in the match with six saves. Hamid’s best was a diving save to deny Nemanja Nikolic in the final 10 minutes.

Bastian Schweinsteiger took a bit of a beating in the match and at one point in the first half went down holding his right shoulder, but finished the match. He was denied an eye-popping assist in added time when he weaved through a few D.C. defenders after stalling in the corner. Schweinsteiger got free and set up Nikolic in front, who skied the shot over the bar.

The win moved the Fire up to second place in the Eastern Conference after the game ended. The Fire went winless on the road in 2015, had one win on the road in 2016 and were winless through five road matches to start this season.

The three teams the Fire have beaten during the winning streak are the bottom team in the East (D.C.) and the bottom two teams in the West (Seattle and Colorado). The schedule will get tougher, starting Thursday with undefeated FC Dallas coming to Toyota Park.

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

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USA TODAY

Fire's protected list for expansion draft hints at possible moves

The MLS offseason doesn't take long to get in gear.

The Fire traded Arturo Alvarez earlier on Sunday, the same day which the list of protected players was to be announced ahead of Tuesday's expansion draft for Los Angeles FC.

LAFC will take five players in the expansion draft, which is set for 1 p.m. on Tuesday. A team can only lose one player. Each team can protect 11 players and homegrown players aren't eligible for selection. For the Fire that means Drew Conner and Djordje Mihailovic can't be taken.

The Fire protected David Accam, Jonathan Campbell, Johan Kappelhof, Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic, Juninho, Matt Polster, Richard Sanchez, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Luis Solignac and Brandon Vincent.

While Sanchez and Schweinsteiger are out of contract, the Fire have said they are negotiating with both players. Protecting Juninho is a bit of a surprise because it implies that the Fire have some intention of keeping him for next year, or at least keeping his rights to be traded.

The Fire left David Arshakyan, Jorge Bava, Brandt Bronico, Stefan Cleveland, Jorge Corrales, Michael de Leeuw, Christian Dean, Daniel Johnson and Matt Lampson unprotected. De Leeuw would be a worthwhile pickup for LA if it thinks he is worth it after his ACL tear suffered late in the season.

With only five players being selected it's fairly likely no Fire players are taken by LAFC, but it's arguable that de Leeuw will end up being one of the best five players available. The 31-year-old tied for the team lead with eight assists and scored three goals.

Fire open offseason by sending Arturo Alvarez home

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USA TODAY

Fire open offseason by sending Arturo Alvarez home

And they're off.

MLS Cup finished just last night with Toronto completing arguably the best season in league history, but the offseason doesn't wait long to get going. The Fire took advantage of Sunday's short trade window before Los Angeles FC's expansion draft takes place on Tuesday by trading Arturo Alvarez to the Houston Dynamo.

Alvarez, a Houston native, gets to go home and could finish his career with the Dynamo. The Fire received a second-round pick in the 2019 draft.

Alvarez, 32, made 55 regular season MLS appearances with the Fire in two years. He had five goals and nine assists in 2016, leading the team in assists. This past season he saw his minutes get nearly cut in half although he did regain a regular spot in the team towards the end of the season and finished with three goals and two assists.

“Arturo had perhaps his two best years wearing our red and we appreciate all that he gave to our club,” Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez said in the team's statement. “We saw this as a chance to allow him to return home while opening up his minutes for some other players.”

The question is which players Rodriguez is referring to. Alvarez played primarily at right midfield, frequently cutting inside with his dangerous left foot. Two players come to mind as possible fill-ins already on the roster: Daniel Johnson and Brandt Bronico.

Johnson was the Fire's first-round pick in the 2017 draft and showed flashes of ability, but dealt with injuries through much of the season and made eight substitute appearances totaling 125 minutes. He is a wide player, but was the opposite of Alvarez, typically playing on the left and cutting in on his right foot.

Bronico was the 2017 third-round pick and made only four sub appearances adding up to 53 minutes played. With such limited action it was difficult to gauge whether he could be a wide midfielder or should be played centrally. Either way, with Alvarez gone and Michael de Leeuw and Djordje Mihailovic out for the first few months of 2018 with ACL tears, both Johnson and Bronico will have opportunities the way the roster is currently constructed.

More news is due later today with the expansion draft set for Tuesday. The Fire will announce the 11 players they are protecting. Homegrown players (Drew Conner and Mihailovic) won't need to be protected. The Fire have 17 others players that will be eligible for the expansion draft.