Fire

Dax McCarty criticizes Red Bulls front office, says Fire need to improve culture

Dax McCarty criticizes Red Bulls front office, says Fire need to improve culture

There has been plenty of drama surrounding Dax McCarty's trade from the New York Red Bulls to the Chicago Fire.

On Tuesday, McCarty talked to local and national reporters via a conference call about his last couple weeks, which he described as a "whirlwind." McCarty got married, joined the U.S. national team for training camp and got traded to the Fire all within the span of a few days.

On top of that, McCarty has been vocal about his displeasure with how the Red Bulls handled the trade. He spoke for a half hour with reporters, giving bold responses on a number of different topics.

There's what McCarty said about how the Red Bulls handled the trade.

"I didn’t think they handled the situation in a very classy way."

There's McCarty's view on what he calls a losing culture that has plagued the Fire.

"From the outside looking in it looks like losing almost became accepted and a culture of losing with this club almost became the norm. From the front office, down to the players, down to the all the staff. It almost just seemed like they were indifferent about winning and that's crazy to me. That's insane."

There's McCarty offering an insight into the current drama within the Red Bulls regarding sporting director Ali Curtis' potential ousting.

"I don't think Ali Curtis had anything to do with the decision."

Saying that a team's sporting director didn't have anything to do with a decision to trade the team's captain is a huge bombshell to those in Red Bull land. McCarty said it was coach Jesse Marsch's decision and Marsch was the one who told him about the trade.

[MORE FIRE: Matt Polster could be out seven weeks with a knee strain]

As for McCarty's view of his new club's brass, Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez and coach Veljko Paunovic flew out to speak with McCarty when he was in camp with the U.S. national team. Both sides have said the meeting went well and was productive, with Paunovic and Rodriguez saying they would be patient with McCarty amid all the emotional elements.

"It was a good meeting and I think for the most part they understood where I was coming from," McCarty said. "They respected the fact that I still needed a little bit of time to process everything and let it sink in, gather my emotions and my thoughts. I'm very happy that they gave me that time and they weren't bombarding me with all kinds of requests for me to do things and all that."

McCarty flew to Florida to join the Fire in preseason training on Monday night. Tuesday morning was his first training session with his new team.

The personal side of the trade has been the focus with both the timing and McCarty's reaction taking focus away from the business side. McCarty admitted he understood the trade from a business sense saying Sean Davis, who replaced him when he got injured against the Fire, "played fantastic" in his place last year.

Davis, 23, is younger and cheaper than the 29-year-old McCarty. With that in mind, McCarty said he "always knew it was a possibility" he could be traded, but still felt like he had earned the chance to have a say in a move.

"If you're moving a veteran player on a high salary for business reasons and you have players you think can step in and do the job that have lower salaries, that are younger that you need to get minutes to, I'm the first one to say it's a great move," McCarty said. "There's no player that's bigger than any club and that's something that I understand full well. I do think that if you're a club that preaches family and I do think if you're a club that preaches doing things the right way and trying to treat players the right way, then I don't think you go and trade a guy who you say that you relied on a lot and that is your captain behind his back without at least telling him that, 'Hey these are some possibilities, unfortunately we have to move you, do you have any say in the matter? You just got married, you have a wife. This is a big moment in your career.'

"I thought I at least earned that and I thought that it would have been hard for the Red Bulls to do that or say that to me because if something falls through they never know where my head will be, but I would have had a lot more respect for the way they handled the situation if that's how it would have gone down."

With his time with the Red Bulls now behind him, McCarty is focused on trying to turn the Fire around as much as he can, adding that in MLS all it takes is a couple moves to become a contender.

"I'm not the type of player that is going to be OK with being average and having another losing season and I guess that's part of the reason why they're bringing me in," McCarty said.

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.