Fire

FIFA approves World Cup expansion to 48 teams beginning in 2026

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USA TODAY

FIFA approves World Cup expansion to 48 teams beginning in 2026

If it ain't broke, FIFA will still try to make more money from it.

World soccer's governing body unanimously voted to expand the men's World Cup from 32 to 48 teams starting with the 2026 edition, which doesn't yet have a host nation.

The World Cup has expanded three times before, most recently in 1998 when the field moved from 24 to 32 teams. The new format will have 16 groups of three teams each with the top two teams from each group moving to a 32-team knockout phase. Currently, and through the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, there are eight groups of four teams with the top two teams from each group advancing to a 16-team knockout phase.

Revenues for FIFA could jump by $1 billion with the 16 extra games.

The number of teams per confederation has not yet been set. The US' region, CONCACAF, currently gets three bids and a fourth team that goes to a playoff to qualify for the World Cup. That number could nearly double under the new format, which would greatly lessen the drama of qualifying for the US. The qualifying format in CONCACAF would also need a restructuring with the current six-team final qualifying round likely serving no purpose with six or more spots available to the region.

The US could also host the first 48-team tournament. With continental rotation playing a role in the selection of host nations, the US is among the favorites to host the 2026 tournament.

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.