Brian Bliss leaves as Fire technical director for post with Sporting KC


Brian Bliss leaves as Fire technical director for post with Sporting KC

The front office reboot for the Chicago Fire continues to roll on with technical director Brian Bliss being the latest to leave the club.

It was announced Tuesday that Bliss would take over as the Sporting Kansas City Director of Player Personnel. Bliss’ position is a new role within Sporting KC.

According to KC’s press release, Bliss will oversee player personnel matters while assisting in scouting. That role is similar to what he did with the Fire except KC’s manager Peter Vermes already has the dual title of technical director.

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“I’m excited to come back to Kansas City and work for a great organization,” Bliss said in the release. “Sporting KC has made tremendous strides over the last several years, and we have a great opportunity to continue that growth into the future. I look forward to helping Peter and the staff reach their goals and keep the club headed in a positive direction.”

Bliss was technical director with the Fire since December 2013 and took over as interim coach for the final five matches of 2015 after Frank Yallop was dismissed. This is his second stint with KC after being an assistant coach from 2000-2006.

Bliss’ departure means four major leadership roles within the Fire’s technical staff will all have been open within the past four months. Since September, Nelson Rodriguez was hired as general manager, Veljko Paunovic was brought on as head coach, Larry Sunderland left for Portland as academy director and now Bliss leaves as technical director.

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The move comes just days before the Jan. 14 MLS SuperDraft, which the Fire have the first pick. Bliss was a key part in the Fire’s draft scouting. In an interview last week Rodriguez spoke of how much the Fire are still relying on scouting done by Bliss, largely in part to Paunovic’s inability to scout more than a few college games in person since getting hired.

“Pauno admits and recognizes that he’s going to have to rely on the scouting that was conducted by the previous regime as well as by Brian Bliss, Logan Pause and even me because he only had the opportunity, I think, to see four games live so his live experience with players is very limited,” Rodriguez said on Dec. 29.

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai


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, 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.

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof involved in car crash on Thursday morning


Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof involved in car crash on Thursday morning

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof was involved in a car accident on his way to practice Thursday morning that sent him to the hospital with minor injuries.

According to authorities and the Secretary of State’s Office, a box truck crashed into the Dutch player’s 2013 Volkswagen and another vehicle in the 5900 block of South Harlem. Kappelhof’s vehicle rolled over and two people fled from the scene.

The driver ran on foot and the passenger moved into the driver’s seat before driving the truck onto the Stevenson Expressway after the crash, officials said. After the damaged vehicle broke down, police say the same passenger tried to jump into the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Both were taken into custody.

Team officials said Kappelhof was treated and released from the hospital without indicators of a concussion. The 27-year-old was reportedly seen at Toyota Park after the crash and did not have any serious injuries. The other driver who was hit by the box truck was also treated, police said.

This season in league play with the Fire, Kappelhof has three assists in 16 games. The international product was a 2017 MLS All-Star and the Defensive Player of the Year for the Fire last season. He was signed in 2016 and has made one MLS Cup Playoffs appearance.