Fire

Another late goal forces Fire to settle for draw against Red Bulls

Another late goal forces Fire to settle for draw against Red Bulls

The New York Red Bulls didn’t put a shot on target for more than 87 minutes, but still managed to score two goals and leave Toyota Park with a draw on Sunday.

The Chicago Fire gave the Red Bulls an own goal in the first half and Bradley Wright-Phillips scored in the 90th minute to prevent the hosts from coming away with a win. David Accam and Matt Polster scored for the Fire in the 2-2 draw.

Polster’s own goal in the 16th minute gave the Red Bulls (9-9-5, 32 points) the lead before either team had registered a shot. Mike Grella crossed in a ball that seemed like it would be easy to deal with for goalkeeper Sean Johnson, but Polster slid to block the cross and knocked it into the goal.

“(Johnson) and I talked at halftime," Polster said. "It looked like Sean was going to have it, but then it kind of hung up there. So last second I went for it and just a little miscommunication. I didn’t hear anything, but I should have just cleared it myself. I think sometimes you have to take it into your own hands and just do it. I second-guessed myself and that’s on me.”

"Shot from Grella, I don’t think it was a cross," Johnson said. "I’m waiting on it skip through and collect. Polster comes, he sees the ball dying and tries to make a play on it and clears it out, but as a goalkeeper that’s the type of position when a shot is coming in you expect the ball is going to come through. I didn’t know Polster was going to come through and make a play on it so it’s OK. These things happen and at the end of the day you learn from plays like that with players in front of you."

The Fire (4-10-6, 18 points) tied things up in the 35th minute through David Accam. Accam got control of a loose ball in the New York half and dribbled to the edge of the box, where he unleashed a low shot which tucked just inside the post.

That was Accam’s fifth goal of the season, giving him sole possession of the team lead in goals scored. Recently traded forward Kennedy Igboananike was tied with Accam at four goals entering the match.

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Polster was able to make up for the own goal in first-half added time. John Goossens curled in a cross from the right that found Polster open at the back post. Polster scored with a diving header, his first professional goal, to give the Fire the lead.

The two goals marked just the third time this season the Fire have scored more than a goal in an MLS game.

The Fire had done well to limit the touches of Wright-Phillips, but he converted his only big chance of the match by volleying in a Connor Lade cross. The Red Bulls had just two shots on target in the match.

"We dropped back too much and we allowed them to play," Accam said. "That was difficult for us because we were chasing the ball in the second half and we didn’t have enough energy to go forward. I think we should have played like we played in the first half. Keep pressuring them and trying to keep the ball in their half, but we didn’t do that.”

There were injuries on both sides. Key New York midfielder Dax McCarty and Fire defender Joao Meira both exited late in the first half. Meira had a hamstring strain.

The Fire’s next game is Saturday at Real Salt Lake.

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

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NBC Sports Chicago

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

Manchester City is coming off a season in which it dominated the English Premier League to the tune of a record 100-point season.

City is kicking off the preseason of its title defense in Chicago. City takes on Borussia Dortmund at Soldier Field on Friday night.

The last time the reigning Premier League champions were in Chicago was when rivals Manchester United came to Soldier to take on the Chicago Fire in 2011.

The Citizens won’t have the full arsenal of stacked stars for its U.S. tour, which also includes stops in New York and Miami as part of the International Champions Cup. Many of the team’s best players are getting a break after playing in the World Cup. Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne, one of the stars of the tournament, is one of six Man City players to reach the semifinals.

Paul Dickov, who played for City for nearly 10 years between 1996 and 2008, is on tour with the team and talked about City’s preparations.

“The reason the clubs want to come to the States and play in International Champions Cup is the facilities are fantastic, the training facilities, the hotels, the treatment they get and just give them the best preparation going into what’s going to be a hard season,” Dickov said. “Nobody has won the Premier League back-to-back titles for nearly 10 years now so it’s going to be tough. Coming here and being able to prepare the way they can in the United States is going to put them on a long way to regain the title again.”

City brought the Premier League trophy to Wrigley Field on Thursday for the Cubs-Cardinals game. Dickov got to throw out the first pitch. The Scotsman threw a strike, much to his relief.

“I was quite calm beforehand, but I must admit when I got out there and I had to walk out there both hands started getting a bit sweaty,” he said. “I managed to make it and I got a fantastic reception off the Chicago Cubs fans so thank you to everybody at Chicago Cubs for having me there. It was great. Something I’ll never forget.”


Dickov compared Cubs fans to City fans in the way both teams struggled for a long time before finding success.

“They stuck by us through thick and thin when things weren’t as great,” Dickov said of Man City fans. “I suppose it’s a little bit like the Chicago Cubs here in Chicago. The fans turn out, they get 30-40 thousand, great atmosphere, back their team.”

While promoting the game, the Premier League trophy made multiple stops in Chicago, including with the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on an off day.

City also took the trophy and new signing Riyad Mahrez, who just joined Man City from 2016 champions Leicester City, to Haas Park in Logan Square. Haas Park includes a soccer field donated by Manchester City and the American embassy of the United Arab Emirates in 2012.

“The outcome of it has been great,” Dickov said. “Thousands of children and families benefiting, not just from the soccer part of it, but the education program as well. To be down there the other day for the full day and seeing the joy in the kids face seeing soccer here and the other activities that are on is great because, yeah, football is fantastic, soccer is fantastic and when you’re out there and you play you want to win, but it’s important, especially from Manchester City’s point of view, the city and the community. The stuff that they do off the field is second to none and it’s giving something back.”

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai

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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.