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.

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?


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.