Calistri brace gives Fire another preseason win


Calistri brace gives Fire another preseason win

A number of lineup changes didn't change the result for the Chicago Fire.

The Fire beat Minnesota United FC 4-0 in the Fire's second match of the Simple Invitational from Providence Park in Portland on Wednesday.

There were six changes from the starting lineup that took to the field in the 3-2 win against Vancouver on Sunday. Only Michael Harrington, Johan Kappelhof, Brandon Vincent, Matt Polster and Joey Calistri returned as starters from that win. All five of those players subbed off at halftime. Three of those five are defenders, so Fire coach Veljko Paunovic appears to recognize that the defense needs to get game action together to develop chemistry because all of them are new to the team.

Despite the changes it was another preseason victory. For whatever it's worth, the Fire are now 4-0 in 90-minute preseason matches.

[MORE: Fire and CSN Chicago announce regional broadcast plans]

Joey Calistri was the standout with two first-half goals.

Calistri's first came in the 24th minute when he found some room in the penalty box and calmly finished. Michael Harrington had sent in a cross from the right that bounced around a bit near Brandon Vincent before landing at Calistri's feet. It was a nice display of composure in the box for Calistri.

The same three names were involved in the second goal. Harrington hit a low cross that went all the way across the face of goal and just stayed in play by the time Vincent got to it. Vincent found Calistri open in the box and he scored with a first-touch finish just inside the far post.

Kingsley Bryce scored the third with a looping header that effectively was a chip shot over goalkeeper Kristian Nicht.

Of note in the second half was the first glimpse of Brazilian right back Rodrigo Ramos. Ramos joined the team in camp earlier this week and could challenge for the starting spot at right back. Ramos assisted on Bryce's goal with a cross.

Alex Morrell did his part to add an exclamation point on the match by drawing a penalty kick in the 88th minute. Morrell is known for his speed and ability in 1-on-1 situations and showed both. He beat one man with a nice move just outside the box and a second Minnesota defender tripped him in the penalty box. Arturo Alvarez finished the penalty kick for the final goal.

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It's worth mentioning that while Minnesota expects to join Major League Soccer next season as an expansion team, the club is still in the North American Soccer League and lost 4-0 to the Portland Timbers on Sunday.

The Fire's final preseason game will take place on Saturday against the Simple Invitational host Portland Timbers at 7 p.m. CT.

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.