Fire excited to get a win for fans in home finale after disappointing season

Fire excited to get a win for fans in home finale after disappointing season

Coach Veljko Paunovic had urged his team to get one final home win for the fans to close out the 2016 Chicago Fire home schedule.

He got his wish.

The Fire came roaring out of the gates with an early goal from Michael de Leeuw, but needed a David Accam goal in the 80th minute to secure a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution on Sunday.

"I know it was a hard season for everyone, but at least we could grant them this good win," Paunovic said.

De Leeuw got things to started early with a goal similar to all of his other goals with the Fire (7-16-10, 31 points). The 30-year-old Dutch forward scored on a first-touch shot from inside the 6-yard box after a low cross from Brandon Vincent in the ninth minute.

New England (10-14-9, 39 points) tied things up when Diego Fagundez cleaned up some scraps by running onto a loose ball and tucking it past Sean Johnson just before halftime.

The second half got a bit weird with red cards for both teams. First, Fire forward Luis Solignac intentionally tripped London Woodberry in the 54th minute and was sent off. His suspension for the final regular season match at Toronto means Solignac’s season is done.

Then, nearly 20 minutes later New England goalkeeper Brad Knighton was given a red card. David Accam surprised Knighton after he went to kick a ball upfield. Knighton then tackled Accam in an effort to regain possession.

Accam would later get the game-winner when he ran down a Jonathan Campbell longball and converted the breakaway.

"The fans deserve much more than what we have given them this season," Accam said. "Today it was all about the fans, about us giving everything we have on the pitch for the fans. I think that’s what we showed today. We went to win it for the fans and we did that.”

Winning for the fans was the theme after the match. Paunovic and the players talked candidly about how disappointing the season has been. Ending the home portion of the schedule on a high note was something to give back to the fans who have endured a sixth year out of seven with no playoffs.

"To be completely honest with you it hasn’t been a great season from the standpoint of results so I think to come here and finish our last game here on a positive note and give the fans something is good," midfielder Matt Polster said.

“I think it means a lot," de Leeuw said. "We all knew how the season went and we just wanted to give something to the fans."

The loss virtually eliminated New England from playoff contention, barring the Revolution making up a 13 goal differential on Philadelphia in the final week. The Fire had lost all three previous meetings with the Revolution this season, including a U.S. Open Cup semifinal in August.

The win ensured the Fire will improve upon last season's point total. The 2015 Fire finished with 30 points, the worst in the history of the club. At 31 points, this year's group has barely passed that with one game left. The Fire also still have a chance to move out of last place. The win moved the Fire within two points of Houston.

The Fire close out the season next Sunday at Toronto.

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?


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


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.