Fire

Dax McCarty says Fire need to win for him to be a part of the national team

Dax McCarty says Fire need to win for him to be a part of the national team

Dax McCarty isn't shy about speaking his mind.

The Fire midfielder made that clear when he spoke against the way the New York Red Bulls handled his January trade to the Chicago Fire.

He proved it again after Saturday's 2-0 win in the Fire's home opener. The Fire scored two goals in the first 15 minutes of the match, but absorbed a lot of pressure from Real Salt Lake in the second half.

Despite a 2-0 win and a positive 1-0-1 start to the season, McCarty still found plenty for the Fire to improve upon when talking to Paul Tenorio in the on-field interview after the match on CSN Chicago.

"We scored two good goals and then after that the quality really dropped off," McCarty said. "Holding on in the second half. The second half was nowhere near good enough. Try to take the positives from the first half and obviously we have to work on some things still."

Possession was one thing McCarty harped on. RSL had 58 percent of the possession for the match and 61 percent in the second half.

McCarty is coming from a team in the Red Bulls which was one of the best teams in the league in possession. The Fire were last in time of possession in Major League Soccer in 2016.

"I just think in general sometimes we sit a little bit too deep and invite too much pressure on ourselves," McCarty said. "But with that being said, just not good enough keeping the ball in the second half. We just give them the ball back every time and they keep ramming it down our throats and it's just a cycle so we got kind of lucky in the second half not to concede, but it's a good shutout and a good win."

This may not be uncharacteristic for McCarty, but he has extra motivation for the Fire to be successful this season. Before Saturday's match McCarty talked with Aaron West of Fox Sports about his new chance to play for the U.S. national team.

With Bruce Arena as coach McCarty has already been called in for the annual January training camp during the MLS offseason. McCarty did not make any national team appearances under Jurgen Klinsmann, the previous manager.

"I feel like my performances with Chicago will go a long way towards determining if I'm a part of the national team," McCarty said. "So, I'm highly motivated to help Chicago win because I'm a big believer that players that play for the national team should be a part of winning teams."

So McCarty not only wants to win for the sake of competitive nature, but he's trying to make a strong case to get on the national team. It won't take long to see if his case is good enough. The national team plays World Cup qualifiers on March 24 against Honduras and March 28 at Panama.

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.

Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

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USA TODAY

Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

As far as notorious players in MLS with a history of scoring big goals, Alan Gordon is one of the first names on that list.

The Fire signed the 36-year-old forward on Friday, continuing to add depth to a roster that appeared paper thin throughout the preseason. Gordon, who had been on trial with the Fire for part of the preseason and even after the season opener, signed a one-year deal.

Gordon adds plenty of experience from being in the league since 2004 and having scored 55 goals with five different teams. For the past few years he has been used primarily as a substitute, but has still maintained his reputation for scoring goals late in games.

At 6-foot-3 he brings plenty of size and strength to the team and is one of the best players on headers in the league. Last season the Fire failed to score directly off a set piece, which was both due to consistently poor service from corner kicks and a lack of players adept at finishing them off. Gordon should give the Fire a late-game option in that area.

Elliot Collier had impressed the Fire enough to earn a contract as a third-round pick and an international player and even came off the bench in the opening loss to Sporting Kansas City, but it appears the team wanted more experience at forward with Gordon.