Fire

Doody hopes to take experience gained from USL to MLS, Fire

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Doody hopes to take experience gained from USL to MLS, Fire

Forgive Fire defender Patrick Doody if, by the end of his first season in MLS, he’s still a little overwhelmed by the transition.

The 23-year-old is not exactly the new kid on the block anymore. But since inking his first professional contract as the club’s sixth Homegrown signing on Dec. 22, 2014, Doody – more than most of his teammates could attest to – has had to make the near-300 mile commute between St. Louis and Chicago more than he would have preferred.  

"It was definitely more back-and-forth than I thought when I originally went to St. Louis," he said, "but that's a good thing."

Doody logged just 62 minutes for the Men in Red during preseason before being shipped out on loan to Saint Louis FC, the Fire’s USL affiliate. A mainstay at left back, Doody started in 18 games and recorded a team-high four assists, and became a fan favorite in no time - a supporter-themed Twitter account was created in his name. 

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"I really enjoyed it, St. Louis was incredible," he added. "It was really helpful for me, but of course the end goal is always being [in Chicago]. Anytime I could be up here it's a good feeling."

Saint Louis missed out on the playoffs, but with match fitness gained week in and week out, consistent exposure and game repetition in the third tier kept the door open for the Fire technical staff to recall the Naperville native at any point.

“He’s done fine,” Fire interim coach Brian Bliss told reporters this week. “We’ve tracked him in St. Louis with some of the stuff that he’s done there. We’ve gotten some good reports from the coaches down there, and that’s a good story that he went and got some games there, and worked on his game, improved. I didn’t have any hesitations about dropping him in over there.”

Largely on the fringes for the first half of the regular season, Doody – a Fire Academy and PDL product – bided his time, driving to and fro before eventually debuting in a dramatic 1-0 win over Seattle Sounders FC on July 11. He also received the starting nod in the ensuing back-to-back defeats to Columbus Crew SC.

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Doody has provided the Fire with a distinct style of play at left back in relief of Joevin Jones, whose international call-ups and a slight drop in form have presented the Indiana graduate with opportunities to shine. When the Fire take on the New England Revolution on Saturday at Toyota Park (7:30 p.m. CT; My50 Chicago), Jones could very well make his return, but Doody has proved his worth, and his performances have certainly not gone unnoticed. 

"Looking at the road and looking at where Joevin’s been the last four or five weeks, I thought we needed a little more concentration on the defensive side of things rather than the attacking side," Bliss said. "I think Doody gave us that in spades; he battled and battled. He shut some guys down over there and stopped some crosses from coming in. He was holding that down pretty well. I commend him for that because it’s not easy to be thrown into that. He did well.

“After he’s [Jones] come back from the Gold Cup, it’s no secret; he hasn’t been in his top form like he was prior to when he went to the Gold Cup. I figured I’d try to give him a break, and put him into the lineup as a sub maybe in a couple other places where we know he can play just to see if he could find a little bit of form and find his game. … I would think somewhere along the line in these last three games, you’ll probably see him back at left back doing what he was capable of doing the first half of the season."

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.