Fire

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Nemanja Nikolic voted into MLS All-Star Game

Bastian Schweinsteiger, Nemanja Nikolic voted into MLS All-Star Game

The MLS All-Stars should be filled with Chicago Fire players and two of them are among the first players on the roster.

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Nemanja Nikolic were included in the group of 10 players that fans voted into the MLS All-Star Fan XI, as first posted by the Chicago Tribune. The MLS All-Star Game will take place at Soldier Field on August 2 with Real Madrid serving as the opponent.

Both Schweinsteiger and Nikolic are newcomers to the Fire this season and have been huge parts of the team's turnaround from cellar dwellar to being currently tied with Toronto FC for the best record in Major League Soccer. Schweinsteiger was called the MVP at this point in the season by MLSsoccer.com's Matthew Doyle and Nikolic is leading the league in goals with 16 so far.

Joining the two Fire standouts as players voted in the by fans are David Villa (New York City FC) at forward, Kaka (Orlando), Michael Bradley (Toronto) and Miguel Almiron (Atlanta) in midfield, defenders DaMarcus Beasley (Houston), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City) and Greg Garza (Atlanta) and goalkeeper Tim Howard (Colorado). Toronto's Sebastian Giovinco got into the Fan XI via a contest involving FIFA 17.

Schweinsteiger played in the 2014 MLS All-Star Game when he played with Bayern Munich in Portland and was on the receiving end of a tackle from Will Johnson that set then-Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola off. This time Schweinsteiger will be a part on the MLS side of the All-Star Game.

Later in July, Fire coach Veljko Paunovic will add 11 players and commissioner Don Garber will select two more to fill out a 23-man roster. Dax McCarty and David Accam seem likely choices to join the All-Star Team from the Fire.

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

After failing to qualify to play in this summer’s World Cup, the United States’ pain was alleviated on Wednesday morning after earning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

But why is this bittersweet for Chicagoans?

Even though the World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada in eight years, matches will not be played in Chicago.

The city chose not to be one of the potential hosts of the world’s largest sporting event, despite using Soldier Field as a venue for the 1994 World Cup.

One of the reasons could be the low seating capacity of Chicago’s historic stadium. Soldier Field would be the second smallest spot out of any World Cup host option, seating only 61,500. The massive competition also draws enormous crowds, possibly causing logistical concerns for a highly-populated place like Chicago.

Ten out of 17 different cities in the United States will be gifted the opportunity to host 2026 World Cup games. The list includes Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) and Nashville (Nissan Stadium), which are the closest domestic locations to Chicago.

The bright side is that fans from the Midwest won’t have to travel very far to see a match. For bigtime soccer fans in the Chicago area, having the chance to attend world-class matches in United States could be exciting enough.

Out of the 80 games taking place in 2026, 60 of them will be located in the United States.

Can this bid with Mexico and Canada at least help the relevancy of U.S. Soccer in the Chicago area?

The U.S. men’s national team missed this year’s World Cup at a very unideal time, just when it seemed like the sport of soccer was gaining more and more popularity in the United States.

Plus, the United States might not even get an automatic bid to play in their own World Cup as hosts.

But becoming a member of the first trio in FIFA history to host the World Cup, coupled with the expanded 48-team field in 2026, could help the United States retain the fans they have across the nation and around Chicago.

The World Cup might not be coming to the Windy City, but Chicagoans will still have something to be excited about in 2026 with games being played right around the corner. If the U.S. can qualify for the upcoming World Cups, having the tournament in North America will be much sweeter.

Until then, the 2018 World Cup kicks off this Thursday night in Russia.

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

portillos.jpg
@JTHAZZARD

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.

OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet. 

From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.

Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.