Fire

Fire get first road win since 2014 in rout of Montreal

Fire get first road win since 2014 in rout of Montreal

The Chicago Fire’s road winless streak is finally a thing of the past.

The Fire beat the Montreal Impact 3-0 on Saturday at Stade Saputo to end the club’s MLS-record 36-match road winless streak.

Luis Solignac scored his first goal since joining the Fire and David Accam had a goal and an assist in the win.

The Fire (5-11-7, 22 points) last won on the road on July 12, 2014. That was a 1-0 win in New England.

Saturday’s win in Quebec featured a lot of firsts for the Fire. The Fire had not led going into halftime on the road in 2016. It was the first time the Fire led by two goals in an MLS match, home or away, all season.

Solignac sparked the big victory by scoring on a counterattack in the 15th minute. Following a Montreal corner, Michael de Leeuw made a short pass from just outside the Fire’s box to David Accam. Accam went full speed to create a counter by himself before laying it off to Solignac on his left. Solignac cut inside on two defenders and curled the shot past Evan Bush.

It was one of the prettier Fire goals of the season and gave the Fire a lead on the road for just the second time this season.

“We tried to isolate them 1v1 and for me I think if I get 1v1 against anyone in this league I’m having a lot of joy,” Accam said during the halftime interview on CSN+.

The Fire got an insurance goal in the 73rd minute via Accam. De Leeuw slid a centering ball to Arturo Alvarez, who had just subbed into the match a minute before. Alvarez’s shot deflected in off Accam, slowly crawling over the line after the deflection wrong-footed Bush.

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Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson emphasized the importance of getting that second goal instead of simply defending a 1-0 lead.

“I think so often we get up a goal and then we tuck in and we sit back,” Johnson said on CSN+ broadcast. “The message was we’re in a good spot, we’ve played well, we’ve been in this position before. We have to learn how go on and score again and again and close out games… We did that tonight.”

With Montreal (8-7-9, 33 points) still pushing numbers forward to get back into the match, the Fire had even more opportunities on the counter. Matt Polster put the finishing touches by scoring one of those counters in the 89th minute.

When the match ended, the Fire moved within five points of the playoffs, but remained last in the league due to Houston and Columbus also winning this weekend. The win should be a confidence booster, but if nothing else it is a relief to not have a negative record hanging over the players’ heads.

“This is massive,” Johnson said. “I think for everybody in the locker room it’s a weight off the shoulders.”

The Fire next have a midweek game at home on Wednesday against the LA Galaxy.

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.