Fire

Findley takes over as Real Salt Lake down Fire

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Findley takes over as Real Salt Lake down Fire

Thursday, July 8, 2010
Updated: 11:31 PM

By JJ Stankevitz
CSNChicago.com

Thursday night was World Cup Night at Toyota Park, so it was fitting that the only player on the pitch to play in the 2010 World Cup scored the game-winning goal.

Unfortunately for Chicago, that player was Real Salt Lakes Robbie Findley.

Findley, who appeared in three World Cup matches in South Africa for the U.S. National Team, scored on a penalty kick in the 39th minute. The goal was not an isolated incident, though, as Findley dominated the final seven minutes of the first half.

That dominance began in the 38th minute, when Findley beat Fire keeper Andrew Dykstra but saw his shot go off the right post. A minute later, Findley found himself in Chicagos box and was knocked down on a hard tackle from C.J. Brown.

Brown was whistled for a foul and Findley was given a penalty shot, which he easily converted to give Real Salt Lake a 1-0 advantage.

Coach Carlos de los Cobos was not pleased with referee Terry Vaughns ruling of a penalty kick on Browns challenge of Findley. There was contact between Brown and Findley, but de los Cobosand the Chicago fans at Toyota Parkvehemently disagreed with Vaughns decision to award a penalty.

I dont usually speak about the referee because I respect these guys too much, but they made a big mistake on the penalty kick because I saw very normal contact between C.J. and Findley, said de los Cobos.

Findley nearly gave Real Salt Lake a 2-0 advantage in the 43rd minute, too. The 24-year-old striker got behind Chicagos defense and had just Dykstra to beat, but failed to get a shot off.

Yeah, probably, said Findley with a laugh when asked if he thought he should have had three goals. But you cant make them all, I guess.

Findley didnt notice any changes in Chicagos defense late in the first half that led to his success. I started to read Chicagos defense, and every time I would check, they would be on my back, said Findley of his ease in getting behind Chicagos defense at the end of the first half. When we had the ball, it seemed like they had eight or nine behind the ball. It was tough to get through them, but we did well and were patient, and things opened up.

Chicago failed to mount any serious scoring challenges in the first half. But a pair of substitutions by de los Cobos sparked Chicagos offense in the second half.

At halftime, de los Cobos swapped midfielders, pulling Logan Pause for Justin Mapp. And, to the pleasure of the 17,847 fans at Toyota Park, Arlington Heights, Ill. native Brian McBride was subbed in for Stefan Dimitrov at forward.

Bringing McBride and Mapp to the field, I think the team had a very good change about possession of the ball and control of the game, said de los Cobos.

They came on and gave us that energy we needed, said defender Steven Kinney. We kept the pressure on them for the second half, but it just wouldnt fall for us tonight.

Kinney experienced that frustration of not finishing first-hand. The six-foot defender saw two headers cruelly bounce off both the left and right goalpost in the second half, the first coming in the 48th minute and the second in the 56th minute.

I was feeling that it probably was not our night tonight, said Kinney of how he felt after missing the second header. We got more chances, but it just wouldnt fall for us tonight.

Chicago continued to develop scoring chances throughout the second half, leaving Real Salt Lake only a couple chances on the counterattack. Real Salt Lake conceded nine corner kicks in the second half, but Chicago failed to convert on any of them.

To be fair, though, two of those failed conversions came on a Kinney header going off the post.

Kinney was robbed again in the 71st minute when Real Salt Lake keeper Nick Rimando got a piece of his shot. It wasnt as heartbreaking as his two header misses, but for a Chicago team that currently sits on the outside looking in of the MLS playoff picture, any good, missed chance hurt.

With 17 points, Chicago is in tenth place overall in the MLS table. The top two teams from the Eastern and Western conferences qualify for the playoffs, and the four next-best teams from either conference will also receive playoff bids.

While Chicago has only played 14 of 30 MLS matches, it currently is two points behind No. 8 San Jose. Houston currently is in ninth with 18 points.

Notes

Real Salt Lake subbed Findley out in the 58th minute24-year-old Ghanan forward Patrick Nyarko did not play and was designated as a substitute. Nyarko continued to experience concussion symptoms from a challenge July 3 against Columbus, according to the teamChicago announced Manchester United will hold an open training session at Toyota Park Wednesday, July 14 at 4 pm. The training session will be open solely to ticket-holders for that evenings Fire-Morelia SuperLiga matchManchester United will play the MLS All-Stars Wednesday, July 28 at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas in the MLS All-Star Game.

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

After failing to qualify to play in this summer’s World Cup, the United States’ pain was alleviated on Wednesday morning after earning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

But why is this bittersweet for Chicagoans?

Even though the World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada in eight years, matches will not be played in Chicago.

The city chose not to be one of the potential hosts of the world’s largest sporting event, despite using Soldier Field as a venue for the 1994 World Cup.

One of the reasons could be the low seating capacity of Chicago’s historic stadium. Soldier Field would be the second smallest spot out of any World Cup host option, seating only 61,500. The massive competition also draws enormous crowds, possibly causing logistical concerns for a highly-populated place like Chicago.

Ten out of 17 different cities in the United States will be gifted the opportunity to host 2026 World Cup games. The list includes Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) and Nashville (Nissan Stadium), which are the closest domestic locations to Chicago.

The bright side is that fans from the Midwest won’t have to travel very far to see a match. For bigtime soccer fans in the Chicago area, having the chance to attend world-class matches in United States could be exciting enough.

Out of the 80 games taking place in 2026, 60 of them will be located in the United States.

Can this bid with Mexico and Canada at least help the relevancy of U.S. Soccer in the Chicago area?

The U.S. men’s national team missed this year’s World Cup at a very unideal time, just when it seemed like the sport of soccer was gaining more and more popularity in the United States.

Plus, the United States might not even get an automatic bid to play in their own World Cup as hosts.

But becoming a member of the first trio in FIFA history to host the World Cup, coupled with the expanded 48-team field in 2026, could help the United States retain the fans they have across the nation and around Chicago.

The World Cup might not be coming to the Windy City, but Chicagoans will still have something to be excited about in 2026 with games being played right around the corner. If the U.S. can qualify for the upcoming World Cups, having the tournament in North America will be much sweeter.

Until then, the 2018 World Cup kicks off this Thursday night in Russia.

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.