With win vs. Union, Fire would host U.S. Open Cup final


With win vs. Union, Fire would host U.S. Open Cup final

A blind draw conducted by U.S. Soccer to determine hosting priority for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final awarded the Fire with a chance to host this year's Open Cup final, pending next week's result against the Philadelphia Union.

Wednesday's proceedings at Soccer House in Chicago were emceed by U.S. men's national team Press Officer Michael Kammarman, along with U.S. Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller and U.S. Soccer Development Academy Director Jared Micklos, who pulled the names of all four semifinalists from envelopes at random.

Should the Fire beat the Union at PPL Park next Wednesday, the four-time champions would host the winner of the second semifinal between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 30 at Toyota Park. The kickoff time for the final will be determined once the semifinals play out.

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Advancing to the final would give head coach Frank Yallop and the Men in Red a sought-after trophy to play for and ample time to home in on climbing up the Eastern Conference table. The Fire rose to ninth place with Sunday's impressive performance against FC Dallas, earning a clean sheet on their way to a 2-0 victory over the then-Western Conference leader.

In the event that the Fire prevail over the Union, the final would cap another stretch of closely scheduled matches. The Men in Red welcome Orlando City SC to Toyota Park on Sept. 19 before traveling north of the border to face the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC on Sept. 23 and Sept. 26, respectively.

Check out the Open Cup semifinal schedule, scenarios for the final based on Wednesday's draw and video of the draw below.

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Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire - Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m. CT at PPL Park; Chester, Pa. (via live webstream at

Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt LakeAug. 12, 7:30 p.m. CT at Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.


Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City/Real Salt Lake winner - Sept. 30, Time TBD at Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.


Real Salt Lake vs. Philadelphia Union - Sept. 30, Time TBD at Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah


Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City - Sept. 30, Time TBD at PPL Park

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.