Fire

Dax McCarty after Fire win: 'I think this team still has a long way to go'

Dax McCarty after Fire win: 'I think this team still has a long way to go'

Bastian Schweinsteiger may be the new face of the Chicago Fire, but perhaps Dax McCarty is the team's voice.

The American midfielder isn't shy with the media and doesn't mince words. So even after the Fire picked up a 1-0 win against Columbus on Saturday, McCarty still voiced frustration that the Fire didn't put the game away when they had chances.

"We need to be more clinical in the attacking third," McCarty said. "We give ourselves plenty of chances to go up two, even three, and we don't finish them. When you do that, teams tend to come back and hurt you. That's where you drop points. We need to work on being more clinical in the attacking third, but overall, especially with a new formation we played I thought it was a positive performance and a great result."

McCarty assisted Nemanja Nikolic's goal and was named man of the match. He attempted 72 passes, second only to Columbus' Wil Trapp in the match, and completed 86 percent of them.

After saying it was "absurd" that the Fire didn't beat a shorthanded Montreal team at Toyota Park last week due to what he called "defensive lapses," McCarty was pleased that the Fire held on for the win this week. Columbus pressured the Fire with 64 percent of the possession and nine shots in the second half.

"I was very disappointed with how we lost two points in the Montreal game," McCarty said. "I thought our performance warranted three points, but we didn't finish and we didn't close the game out well and we didn't defend well. I thought today we learned from our mistakes. Defensively we were a little bit more solid. Columbus had a little bit more possession in the second half, but no real, clear cut, dangerous chances. I think that's a testament to the commitment we showed defensively."

Schweinsteiger and McCarty were the Fire's two central midfielders with Juninho sitting out due to a red card suspension. The German was complimentary of McCarty's play.

"He's great to have on your back behind you," Schweinsteiger said. "He covers a lot and he also understands the game really well. He knows exactly when to pass the ball, when to turn and to keep the ball so you can really see his experience helped me out."

Columbus entered the match with a three-game winning streak and still leads the Eastern Conference with 10 points. The Fire are now second with eight points. In what is shaping up to be a crowded playoff race, the win keeps the Fire within range of the top, something that hasn't been thought about for a while around Toyota Park, even this early in the season.

Despite that, McCarty still thinks the Fire have a lot of improvement to make to become a contending MLS team.

"I think this team still has a long way to go," he said. "I think the performance in the first half was a good one. I think in the second half we dropped our level a little bit. Columbus came out and played pretty well. That's a great team we just beat, but they're missing a couple players, we're missing a couple players, but you still have to get the job done."

After making the playoffs just once since 2009 and being last in Major League Soccer for the past two years, the Fire had a deep hole to dig out of. McCarty admitted that won't happen quickly, but said it is happening.

"Turning a team that's had a bunch of losing seasons and not a great mentality the past couple years into a winner overnight, it's not easy," McCarty said. "That's never a realistic possibility, but slowly, but surely that's going to create building blocks and you do the right things on the field, slowly the mentality starts to shift. Now in the locker room you have the expectation to step on the field and win games. That's what you have to have, you have to play with confidence, you have to play with no fear. I think that's something that we're starting to get better at."

MLS announces return to play plan for tournament at Disney World

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USA Today

MLS announces return to play plan for tournament at Disney World

MLS soccer is coming back this summer.

The league announced a plan to have all 26 MLS clubs resume play on July 8 with a league-wide “MLS is Back Tournament.”

The games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, without fans in the stands.

Here’s how it will work:

Clubs can arrive in Orlando to begin training on June 24. Then a group stage will begin July 8 followed by a knockout stage, starting July 25.

There will be six groups, three for each the Western and Eastern Conferences. The group stage draw will occur on June 11 at 2:30 p.m. CT.

Each team will play three group stage matches, and the results from those games will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings.

Then the top two teams from each group, plus the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout stage. That stage starts with a round-of-16, followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and then the championship game. The championship game will be played on August 11.

In case of a tie at the end of regulation in the knockout stage, games will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.

The winner of the tournament will earn a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.

At the conclusion of the tournament, MLS will resume its regular season followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.

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MLS cancels three marquee events in wake of coronavirus, reschedules for 2021

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USA TODAY

MLS cancels three marquee events in wake of coronavirus, reschedules for 2021

Major League Soccer announced Tuesday the cancelation of three marquee 2020 events in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

The 2020 MLS All-Star Game, Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup have all been canceled, the league announced Tuesday. Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, Calif. was set to host the All-Star game on July 29, and MLS said the 2021 event is now expected to take place at the same venue. 

MLS will resume negotiations with LIGA MX with hopes of squaring off in the 2021 exhibition match.

The second annual Leagues Cup tournament was set to occur between July and September, featuring top MLS and LIGA MX teams. The two leagues canceled the event in a joint decision and plan to play the tournament next year.

Similarly, MLS and LIGA MX jointly canceled the Campeones Cup, which features the reigning MLS champion against the LIGA MX's Campeón de Campeones winner. The 2020 event was scheduled for Aug. 12 at CenturyLink field, home of Seattle Sounders FC. It will return in 2021.