Fire

Accam stars in Fire's 4-2 preseason win against Philly

accam-preseason-0211.png

Accam stars in Fire's 4-2 preseason win against Philly

It was the David Accam show in Clearwater, Fla., on Thursday.

The Chicago Fire winger scored twice and played a big part in a third goal in the Fire's 4-2 preseason win against the Philadelphia Union at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex.

Accam got the scoring started with a penalty kick. In the 14th minute his corner drew a hand ball in the box. He slotted the ensuing penalty home.

[SHOP FIRE: Get your Fire gear here]

The lead didn't last long at all though. The Union scored 53 seconds after the kick off to score with Sebastien Le Toux crossing into rookie Fabian Herbers, who scored with a back heel. Herbers was a college teammate of starting Fire center back Vincent Keller at Creighton this fall.

The Fire struggled to make a mark on the game for much of the rest of the first half, but the best chances continued to come from the left wing and Accam. Accam broke free when trialist John Goossens hit a through ball to Accam in stride on the wing. Accam blew by the defender and scored with a low finish past goalkeeper Andre Blake for a 2-1 Fire lead in the 40th minute.

The Fire made seven changes at halftime. Sean Johnson, Matt Polster and Brandon Vincent played their first action of the Fire's preseason. Accam, Vincent Keller,
Jonathan Campbell and Michael Harrington were the four starters to stay on after halftime. Harrington moved from right back to left back when Vincent came on for Joey Calistri, who started at right back for the second straight preseason game.

Accam nearly had his hat trick when he broke through the Philadelphia defense again in the 58th minute. He dribbled around Blake, but saw his shot cleared off the line by a diving clearance from defender Ken Tribbett.

Two minutes later Accam created yet another chance, but this one found the back of the net. He combined with Gilberto down the left wing and fired a shot at Blake, which created a rebound that popped right up to Nick LaBrocca. LaBrocca headed in the easy finish for a 3-1 lead.

Gilberto scored a goal of his own in the 64th minute when a defensive turnover by the Union gave Gilberto an open shot, which he did not miss.

[MORE: Paunovic praises Fire's young players]

Alex Morrell soon subbed in for Accam. Collin Fernandez left a few minutes after picking up an injury. He was replaced by Vincent Mitchell. Joao Meira made his first appearance this preseason as a second half sub. Every healthy field player in camp appeared.

Warren Creavalle scored in the 83rd minute for Philadelphia by finishing a cross from the right.

The Fire will travel back to Chicago tomorrow with the Florida part of the preseason now completed. The next preseason game is in Portland on Feb. 21 against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai

katai.jpg
USA TODAY

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai

The Fire have secured the transfer of midfielder Aleksandar Katai from Deportivo Alavés of the Spanish La Liga, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

This season’s breakout playmaker has been signed with Chicago through 2019, with a 2020 club option. Before the transfer, Katai was on loan from Alavés, which was set to expire after July.

The Serbian player has emerged as one of the most important pieces of the Fire’s offense this season. Since joining the club on Feb. 6, Katai has scored eight goals in 18 league matches, tying forward Nemanja Nikolić for the most on the team. Katai also has three assists in 2018.

The 27-year-old’s biggest game of the year came against New York City FC last month when he scored two goals to lead the Fire to 3-2 victory. His production this season in the MLS has been much more significant than it was in 23 matches with Alavés, where Katai only tallied three goals and four assists.

His transfer fee is unknown but, according to Sam Stejskal of MLSsoccer.com, he will be a “Targeted Allocation Money player” for the rest of this season and will not be a Designated Player until 2019. Whatever the official price was, acquiring Katai for a lengthier amount of time seemed like a must.

Throughout this season, the Fire were rumored to be in talks with legendary Spanish striker Fernando Torres. On Tuesday, he signed with Sagan Tosu, a Japanese club. The Fire signed Katai the next day, showing that the team was possibly waiting for Torres to leave the market.

Chicago will face the Philadelphia Union Wednesday night at Toyota Park, where Katai will look to continue his impressive season.

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof involved in car crash on Thursday morning

kap.jpg
USA TODAY

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof involved in car crash on Thursday morning

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof was involved in a car accident on his way to practice Thursday morning that sent him to the hospital with minor injuries.

According to authorities and the Secretary of State’s Office, a box truck crashed into the Dutch player’s 2013 Volkswagen and another vehicle in the 5900 block of South Harlem. Kappelhof’s vehicle rolled over and two people fled from the scene.

The driver ran on foot and the passenger moved into the driver’s seat before driving the truck onto the Stevenson Expressway after the crash, officials said. After the damaged vehicle broke down, police say the same passenger tried to jump into the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Both were taken into custody.

Team officials said Kappelhof was treated and released from the hospital without indicators of a concussion. The 27-year-old was reportedly seen at Toyota Park after the crash and did not have any serious injuries. The other driver who was hit by the box truck was also treated, police said.

This season in league play with the Fire, Kappelhof has three assists in 16 games. The international product was a 2017 MLS All-Star and the Defensive Player of the Year for the Fire last season. He was signed in 2016 and has made one MLS Cup Playoffs appearance.