Fire

Eric Gehrig officially joins Fire's staff an assistant coach

Eric Gehrig officially joins Fire's staff an assistant coach

The Chicago Fire filled out the rest of the soccer operations staff on Wednesday and a familiar name is an assistant coach.

Eric Gehrig filled the assistant coach vacancy opened by Logan Pause's departure. Gehrig, 29, played the last two seasons with the Fire as a defender.

Gehrig had his option declined by the Fire this offseason, but resurfaced as an assistant coach at the start of preseason training. He was technically on trial as a coach until today.

Yesterday Gehrig announced his retirement as a player on Instagram, which led the way for his move into coaching. Gehrig played four seasons with the Columbus Crew before joining the Fire.

View this post on Instagram

Six years ago to the day I signed my first professional contract. It was one of the greatest days of my life. I still can remember anxiously waiting to get out of what felt like the longest team meeting in my life. I just couldn’t run upstairs fast enough to call Greg. Competing in the playoffs for the Columbus Crew, in front of some of the most passionate fans, are memories I'll cherish forever. And then being traded to my hometown Chicago Fire, the first soccer team I ever loved, and being voted Chicago Fire Defender of the Year. Literally backyard dreams becoming a reality. Thank you to my brother @ggehrig09 for sharing his genuine joy and unwavering support. To my parents, there’s just no words. Car rides, soccer jerseys, nachos at Fire games, every Adidas Predator shoes released, you name it. I LOVE you 3 so much, and here's to many more memories at soccer stadiums 😉. Thank you to all my coaches over the years for relentlessly pushing me, even when it was hard for me to see why at the time. You guys hardened me, toughened me, and without those experiences there's no way I would have made it to Major League Soccer. Thank you to the fans, for giving a no-name kid from Loyola a chance to earn your trust and support. Both to the people of Columbus, who became family, and to my brothers and sisters in Chicago, THANK YOU. Lastly, I want to thank my teammates. To me being with you all, and getting to know you, is what was the best part. Sure, I'll miss competing in sold out stadiums, wrestling with superstar forwards, or hitting 60 yard lasers to a teammates foot 😁. But I WILL undoubtedly miss those times spent with the boys the most, and I've been lucky to make some amazing friends for life. You all made me a better player, but more importantly a better man. Thank you so much guys. I’ll always be here for you! ….and with that I announce my retirement from playing professional soccer. It’s bittersweet for sure, but I am at peace, and more than anything, I’m beyond grateful. The game has meant too much to me over the last 20 years for this to be the end... EG ❤️ p.s. Happy Valentines Day @natalieput. You’re so pretty. Love you.

A post shared by Eric Gehrig (@egehrig6) on

Gehrigh is younger than six players on the Fire's roster: Jorge Bava, Arturo Alvarez, Michael Harrington, Michael de Leeuw, Dax McCarty and Joao Meira.

In two other moves to the soccer operations staff, Steven Purcell got moved up to head athletic trainer after being an assistant athletic trainer last year. Reade Whitney was hired to fill Purcell's vacated spot.

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.