Fire

Brandon Vincent and Matt Polster to join U.S. Olympic team

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Brandon Vincent and Matt Polster to join U.S. Olympic team

Brandon Vincent and Matt Polster were named to the roster for the U.S. Olympic qualifying team's two-leg playoff against Colombia next week.

Both players were in the starting lineup of the 0-0 draw against Columbus on Saturday and both have started all three Fire matches so far. In all, 11 MLS players were apart of the 23-man roster.

“I’m really excited," Vincent said. "It’s a huge honor and I’m really thankful for the opportunity. The focus was on the game today first and now I get to look towards that. I’m looking forward to representing the country and representing Chicago.”

[RELATED: Brandon Vincent makes national team debut in win against Canada]

Polster was a part of the initial qualifying squad while Vincent only became a part of the player pool during the January camp when he made his debut for the senior national team. Polster was also called into that camp, but did not play.

Vincent burst onto the scene as an American prospect recently following Stanford's national championship in the fall. His inclusion in the January camp and now this roster shows how far he has moved up the ranks in recent months after never representing the U.S. at the youth level.

“I’m just trying to keep my head down and work hard my whole career," Vincent said. "I get the opportunity now so I take it and just go forward with it.”

[SHOP FIRE: Get your Fire gear here]

The two players will fly out on Sunday to join the American squad coach by Andi Herzog.

The U.S. didn't qualify for the 2012 Olympics and was expected to do this time around, but were unable to get one of the two automatic spots from the CONCACAF region. Instead, they now face this daunting playoff with a strong Colombian team.

“It’s going to be exciting," Polster said. "It’s definitely something we need to qualify for. I know the pressure is on now, but I think the group that we put together that just came out with the coaching staff looks pretty solid.”

The first match will take place on March 25 in Colombia and the return leg will take place on March 29 at Toyota Stadium, the home of FC Dallas.

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?

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@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.