Fire

Bastian Schweinsteiger says he is playing at 70 percent fitness

Bastian Schweinsteiger says he is playing at 70 percent fitness

Bastian Schweinsteiger has made a good early impression with the Chicago Fire, scoring two goals and registering an assist in four matches with his new club.

Apparently, he's also playing at only 70 percent fitness.

The German was the guest on Fire Weekly on Wednesday and said as much when Frank Klopas asked him how his match fitness is coming along.

"I would say around 70 percent," Schweinsteiger said. "It's still in the game you feel like you want to do something and you can't really do it because of the energy. I tried to of course play with my brain. My brain is 100 percent so that's working. I feel as a player if you are in a rhythm, you play 20 games in a row you have a better rhythm or feeling for the game."

Schweinsteiger dealt with injuries in his time with Manchester United and then was not selected for any Premier League matches this season.

"It's not easy for me because I was not playing so much in the past so I have to get my rhythm," Schweinsteiger said. "I try to improve myself more and more. I want to decide games, you know, so you need energy for that. I'm trying in every single training session to do a little bit more and to come to 100 percent, to reach that."

The Fire lost 3-1 at Toronto on Saturday, which was both Schweinsteiger's first road game in MLS and his first loss with the Fire. After the match he complained to the refs about some calls that were made and voiced more of that frustration also in the interview.

"Of course I don't like to lose so for me in Toronto I was not so happy about the result and some decisions which were made, but we still have to develop our game to ask for these kind of playoff spots or to be No. 1 maybe in the Eastern Conference," he said.

Schweinsteiger added that legendary German player Franz Beckenbauer, who played for the New York Cosmos in the old North American Soccer League, traveled with Bayern Munich for some Champions League games and told Schweinsteiger about playing in America.

"We had time to talk about life and soccer and everything," Schweinsteiger said of Beckenbauer. "He was telling me that his best time was actually when he was playing in America. So he was saying if you have a chance, do it. I have to say he was right."

Watch the full interview in the video below:

In other Schweinsteiger news, he also had some fun with Argentine teammate Luis Solignac. Schweinsteiger recorded a video on Solignac's phone saying the score of the 2014 World Cup final. Schwensteiger played in that game for Germany, which beat Argentina 1-0.

https://twitter.com/LuchoSoli/status/856981314007965696

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.