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Bayern Munich legend Paul Breitner 'afraid' that little has changed with U.S. soccer

Bayern Munich legend Paul Breitner 'afraid' that little has changed with U.S. soccer

Bayern Munich legend Paul Breitner is in town to promote his former club playing at Soldier Field for the International Champions Cup, but he also had some interesting things to say regarding the state of American soccer.

Breitner has such an impressive resume from his playing career that when he says something about the game it's probably worth taking note of. He won the 1974 World Cup with West Germany and won both Bundesliga titles (with Munich) and La Liga titles (with Real Madrid). He is scored in the 1974 final and also scored in the 1982 World Cup final, which West Germany lost, making him one of just four players to score in two different World Cup finals.

When asked how soccer in the U.S. has changed in recent years, Breitner gave an answer that might be slightly frightening for soccer fans in this country.

"I have a very long history and coming over to the U.S. and watching many games," Breitner said. "I was close to becoming a player of the U.S. league at the end of the 70s. I had an offer to play for the (New York) Cosmos. If I compare the situation at the 70s and 80s sometimes I get the idea that only a little bit has changed. When, I have to accept that, I read newspapers here in Chicago or in New York there is nothing, no word about soccer. So I'm a little bit afraid."

Breitner admitted he hasn't seen much of Major League Soccer due to it not being available in Germany.

However, Breitner did talk about the growing fandom in the country. Bayern Munich's trip for the ICC, which will be against AC Milan on July 27, does represent a need for the team to play in front of the growing fan base in the U.S.

"We have 30 million supporters in the United States so we have to be present sometimes," Breitner said. "First of all we have to come over to say thank you to all our fans, to all our supporters for supporting us. We want to offer our experience, our knowledge of maybe changing some kind of infrastructure of U.S. soccer. Also we can offer for example to teach some coaches to give them the newest, the most modern ideas about soccer. These are the reasons why we come over.

"We offer to teach coaches within the next years. We offer a partnership and this is also a point of view why we come to the States."

The opinionated German also talked about U.S. Men's National Team coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who is a former player and manager of Bayern Munich.

"I think Jurgen's idea to develop his team or the entire U.S. soccer is to send as many youngsters as possible to Europe or maybe to South America to learn," Breitner said. "To learn soccer, which is the only one which is successful in these times and these years. This is the high-speed soccer created by Barcelona and now played by the best teams in the world. You only have the chance to win anything to improve if you are able to play at the same level. Therefore I think the idea of Jurgen is very good and logical that he says OK, send your talents to Europe at the age of 14, 15, 16 to come back with new ideas and to bring the ideas into all the teams that they play."

Check out the video above for more from Breitner's interview.

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.