Fire

Fire crush 10-man Impact, remain unbeaten against Eastern Conference

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Fire crush 10-man Impact, remain unbeaten against Eastern Conference

As the rain pummeled Toyota Park on Saturday night, the Fire produced a laudable home performance in front of a mettlesome crowd of 15,256.

Behind an upper-90 strike from Harry Shipp in the 13th minute, a Jeff Larentowicz penalty kick on the stroke of halftime and Kennedy Igboananike’s first Fire goal, the Men in Red cogently beat 10-man Montreal Impact, 3-0, to grab their fourth win of the season.

“From our side of things, a very good home win,” head coach Frank Yallop said in his post-match press conference. “It’s always good to get three points out of a game like this when we dominated the match. I thought we just did a good job of everything tonight — the spirit, the will to win."

The onslaught was catalyzed early on as David Accam’s speed set the tempo. The designated player took matters into his own hands and ran at a rickety Impact back four, forcing converted right back and captain Nigel Reo-Coker into a mistimed tackle and a third-minute yellow card from referee Allen Chapman to match it.

[MORE FIRE: Shaun Maloney called up to Scotland, will miss trio of Fire matches]

With Joevin Jones’s tenacious running from his left back position causing problems early on, the Trinidadian joined Kennedy Igboananike, Accam and Shipp in the attack as the Impact were left chasing shadows.

“I was going to throw a lifejacket over to the left side in the first half,” Yallop said. “It was really wet, and the water was spraying up (from the grass).

“I think JJ has been excellent. David is electric; he’s still got a little bit of an ankle problem and his hamstrings are a bit tight, that’s the reason I took him out to rest him for Wednesday. They’ve got a good combination between them." 

The Fire, who did well to keep Montreal’s attack at bay, applied relentless pressure that eventually paid off. In the 13th minute, Igboananike stripped former Fire defender Bakary Soumare and threaded a ball into the path of an onrushing Shipp, who buried a left-footed effort into the upper-90 to give Yallop’s side a deserved advantage.

[SHOP FIRE: Get your Fire gear right here]

In the 37th minute, the Impact were reduced to 10 men following a pair of late tackles from Impact midfielder Marco Donadel on Eric Gehrig and rookie Matt Polster, both of which were deemed bookable offenses.

The Impact’s defensive lapses were compounded a minute before halftime, with Soumare at fault once more. The Malian took Accam’s legs out in the penalty area, leaving Chapman no choice but to award a spot kick. Another cooly dispatched Larentowicz effort gave the Men in Red a favorable halftime lead.

After emerging from the break following a one-sided first half, the second half was a much more muffled affair as Frank Klopas’ outfit looked to quell the damage sustained in the opening 45 minutes.

That damage was only made worse as a knifing through ball from Razvan Cocis to a galloping Igboananike left the Nigerian through on goal with only ‘keeper Evan Bush to beat. A collected finish, however, put the icing on top of the cake on an impeccable home showing.

The victory moved the Fire up to eighth place in the Eastern Conference on 14 points, a vital step as the Men in Red turn the page and look forward to a midweek fixture against D.C. United.

Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs)

(4-2-3-1): Jon Busch; Eric Gehrig, Jeff Larentowicz (C), Adailton, Joevin Jones; Matt Polster (Guly do Prado, 80'), Razvan Cocis; Harry Shipp, Shaun Maloney, David Accam (Quincy Amarikwa, 66'); Kennedy Igboananike (Jason Johnson, 75').

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.