Fire done in by first-minute goal, fall to Rapids


Fire done in by first-minute goal, fall to Rapids

On the back of a captivating 3-3 draw at the Philadelphia Union last weekend, an early lapse in concentration was all it took to see the Fire slip to their 13th loss of the 2015 campaign.

A nightmare start, which saw the visiting Colorado Rapids execute and convert a sublime counter attack, sunk the Men in Red, 1-0, in front of 18,317 at Toyota Park Saturday night.

Combination play from Kevin Doyle and Gabriel Torres down the left flank was capped off by Dillon Serna, who finished with ease at the back post to give Pablo Mastroeni's side their first win on their travels against an Eastern Conference team this season, while the Fire were left to rue another poor and lethargic beginning to the match that confined them to the bottom of the standings.

"Seems like every team that plays against us has not as many chances as we create or get and seems to score goals, so we’ve looked at it, we working on it, we talk about it the whole time," Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. "I’ve been in this game a long time and sometimes you keep trying to put your finger on it and you can’t kind of figure it out."

[RELATED: Fire hope 'fantastic fightback' at Union carries over vs. Rapids]

Yallop trotted out four changes with rookie Matt Polster replacing Lovel Palmer at right back, and Matt Watson and Harry Shipp standing in for Razvan Cocis and Jason Johnson, respectively. Meanwhile, David Accam, who looked on from the bench at PPL Park, made his return to the side and succeeded Shaun Maloney, whose transfer to English Championship side Hull City is expected to be completed early next week.  

Seeking to make amends for the early blip, it was Patrick Nyarko and Joevin Jones who took the game by the scruff of the neck in the 13th minute, combining down the left side. Jones' cross skipped to the back post to Accam, whose scuffed effort was palmed aside by Rapids 'keeper Clint Irwin, a common theme as the visitors rode their luck throughout the night on the heels of a defensive, yet solid performance.

A lively Accam - making his return to the lineup after being rested the previous match - produced a string of threatening chances on the night, but failed to muster enough to beat an alert Irwin.  

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The Fire - despite holding a commanding edge in possession (68 percent) and total shots (20) on the night - couldn't break through a staunch Rapids back four, which similarly stood up to the task with conviction in the second stanza.

Second-half substitute Gilberto nearly found an equalizer for the hosts two minutes into stoppage time, but his effort chimed the woodwork, calling an end to another frustrating night in Bridgeview. 

"Tonight was a big game for us that if we could’ve won this one it would’ve helped us and obviously not winning it," Yallop added. "Again it’s about us, we got to keep going and keep battling on through. It’s nice to see some of our guys on the field; Gilberto and I think Kennedy [Igboananike] looked sharp tonight, but obviously we just didn’t get that goal we needed.”

Next up for the Men in Red is the first of 10 remaining fixtures against Eastern Conference opponents, which sees Jesse Marsch's New York Red Bulls march into Toyota Park on Wednesday night.

Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs)

(4-4-1-1): Sean Johnson; Matt Polster, Eric Gehrig, Jeff Larentowicz (C), Joevin Jones; Patrick Nyarko (Gilberto, 63'), Matt Watson (Jason Johnson, 69'), Michael Stephens, David Accam; Harry Shipp (Mike Magee, 85'); Kennedy Igboananike.

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

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


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, 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.