Fire

Bastian Schweinsteiger scores in debut, Fire draw Montreal

Bastian Schweinsteiger scores in debut, Fire draw Montreal

Chicago Fire fans said hello to Bastian Schweinsteiger when he arrived in Chicago on Tuesday. Schweinsteiger said his hello with a goal in his debut on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Fire, the goal was not enough for a win. Montreal took the lead with two goals in the second half before Luis Solignac tied things up with a volley in added time for a 2-2 draw.

Schweinsteiger showed off the passing skill, vision and composure on the ball that allowed him to start for a World Cup-winning Germany and a Champions League-winning Bayern Munich in his career. He also showed off his aerial ability on the goal.

He hasn't been known for goal-scoring in his career. Despite that, Schweinsteiger rose up and headed in a David Accam cross following a short corner in the 17th minute.

Schweinsteiger picked up the ball out of the net, kissed it and ran to the corner where Sector Latino was. The entire team rushed over to him and the Toyota Park crowd gave him a standing ovation.

"It was a great feeling," Schweinsteiger said. "It was a perfect cross."

The Fire had 62 percent of the possession in the first half and Schweinsteiger was creating attacks with some slick passes. However, things took a turn in the other direction in the second half.

Montreal tied the match on a Matteo Mancosu header in the 61st minute. Mancosu got free in the box and headed in a cross from Chris Duvall.

Things got worse 10 minutes later when Fire midfielder Juninho picked up his second yellow card and was sent off, leaving the Fire (1-1-2, 5 points) shorthanded while trying to pick up the winning goal.

The match finished 10v10 when Schweinsteiger hit a through ball to send substitute Luis Solignac on a breakaway. Solignac then was brought down from behind by Victor Cabrera in the 81st minute.

Soon after Schweinsteiger had a chance to put the Fire back in front, but his volley following a corner kick went just wide. Schweinsteiger made some key passes down the stretch, but the Fire were not able to capitalize.

"With 10 players we tried to get chances and it was a very good reaction," Schweinsteiger said. "I think we deserved the draw in the end. We have to live with it, the one point, but it was a very good reaction."

Montreal (0-1-3, 3 points) took the lead when Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla scored in the 90th minute with a shot that snuck in the near post past goalkeeper Jorge Bava.

Solignac's wicked half volley three minutes into added time saved the Fire from a home defeat against a winless Montreal (0-1-3, 3 points) team which was without All-Stars Ignacio Piatti and Laurent Ciman.

"You get an equalizer in the 93rd minute and you want to be happy and you want to feel like it's a positive result, but it's not a good result in the least bit," McCarty said. "It's a terrible result actually. It's going to be tough watching video next week. Defensively it was just shambolic the way we conceded those two goals. If you want to win games in this league, it's going to be impossible if we concede soft goals like that. I don't remember them having very many good chances. I don't remember Bava having to make these ridiculous saves, the ones that he made in Columbus. If you're going to concede goals like that at home, you're in for a long season."

Coach Veljko Paunovic had a more positive tone, seeing improvement from last year.

"Last year we would have lost this game, but in the end now we show the survival instinct," Paunovic said. "That's what we are looking for, to win games at the end or points like today.

"For me I'm happy with the character. I'm also happy that I saw a locker room that is not happy with a point. That's something that I actually want to see."

The Fire are at home next Saturday as well with a game against Columbus.

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.