Fire

Fire continue road trip in New England

Fire continue road trip in New England

The Chicago Fire are in a familiar position: last in the Eastern Conference.

After losing on a late bicycle kick by Blas Perez in Vancouver on Wednesday, the Fire fell to 1-3-4 (7 points) on the season. That is the lowest point total in the league and only Houston (2-6-2, 8 points) has fewer points per game. The Fire are actually two points behind last year's pace, which was 3-5 through its first eight matches.

One of the teams near the bottom of the standings with the Fire is Saturday's opponent, the New England Revolution (1-3-7, 10 points). The Revolution host the Fire on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. on CSN Chicago with coverage beginning at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

Saturday could finally mark the return of David Accam. Accam has been out since the second match of the season with a knee sprain. He tallied two goals and an assist in his two games and the Fire have scored four goals in the six games he has missed.

"He'll be available for the next game and we'll see how many minutes he can play," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said after the game in Vancouver.

Also, midfielder Khaly Thiam could make his debut Saturday. Thiam, who signed with the team just over a week ago, did not travel to Canada due to visa issues, but is with the team in Foxborough, Mass.

To round out the injury report, John Goossens is still out due to a sprained LCL and Collin Fernandez, who subbed on in the 85th minute in Vancouver, is questionable after suffering a sprained ankle.

For New England the big story is the trade for Kei Kamara. Kamara, who scored 22 goals last season to share the league lead with Sebastian Giovinco, was traded by the Columbus Crew just before the league's first trade deadline passed at the end of the day Wednesday. Kamara had been suspended a game by the Crew after comments made after the team's 4-4 draw against Montreal on May 7 and trade talks quickly heated up.

The Fire saw Kamara on March 19 when he was still with the Crew. It was a goalless draw. Kamara had five goals in nine starts with Columbus. How much he will play Saturday is up in the air considering he just flew into Boston on Thursday, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see him come off the bench.

While Kamara can help the Revs' attack, it is the team's defense that probably needs the most improvement. New England is tied with Portland for the most goals allowed in the league at 20. The Fire have allowed half that number in three fewer matches.

New England enters Saturday's match with a number of injuries. Forward Charlie Davies is out for the third straight match with an abductor strain. Left back Chris Tierney has missed the past three matches with a hamstring injury and is questionable. Tierney's backup, Donnie Smith, is out due to a hamstring. Hamstrings are apparently a problem in New England because forward Teal Bunbury is also questionable with a bad hamstring.

Chicago Fire at New England Revolution

When: Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live

TV: CSN Chicago

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

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.