Fire

Fire finish road trip at Red Bulls

Fire finish road trip at Red Bulls

The Chicago Fire played possibly its worst game of the season on Saturday so it may not be such a bad thing that the team has a quick turnaround.

The Fire will close out its three-game, eight-day road trip on Wednesday at the New York Red Bulls. The game will air on CSN+ and coverage will begin at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

The Red Bulls (3-7-1, 10 points) and the Fire (1-4-4, 7 points) are the only two teams in the league with more games played than points. They are also both coming off 2-0 road losses against teams with more losses than wins. The Fire dropped a 2-0 game in New England and the Red Bulls lost 2-0 at D.C. United.

Still, the Red Bulls have a lot of talent after winning the Supporters' Shield last season. Sacha Kljestan leads the league with six assists, in part because of his ability on set pieces, which is something that Fire coach Veljko Paunovic mentioned.

“We have to be very careful on set pieces," Paunovic said on Monday. "They have a very good set piece taker (Kljestan) and very good actions. They proved that last year and this year, too.”

The Red Bulls have allowed 20 goals this season, tied for second most in the league, but have surprisingly scored just 13 goals in 10 games after leading the league in goals with 62 last season.

"We know how well they perform actually playing at home," Paunovic said. "They attack, they are a very attacking team. Their style is very direct and we know that the individual qualities as a team, we are aware of that."

The injury list for both teams is short. The Fire will only be missing John Goossens, although Collin Fernandez (ankle) and Patrick McLain (knee) are listed as questionable.

David Accam made his first appearance Saturday after missing six matches with a knee sprain. He is no longer listed on the injury report and could start, although Paunovic would not indicate if that was the plan as of Monday.

“I believe David did very well (Saturday)," Paunovic said. "He helped the team a lot with his one-on-one incursions, especially because he committed so much at their defense. I think two yellow cards were from him. That means that David is coming back."

Chicago Fire at New York Red Bulls

When: 6:30 p.m. kickoff with Fire Pregame Live at 6 p.m.

TV: CSN+

Where: Red Bulls Arena, Harrison, N.J.

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?

portillos.jpg
@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.