Fire

Fire to head on the road for U.S. Open Cup semifinal, but can host final

Fire to head on the road for U.S. Open Cup semifinal, but can host final

The Chicago Fire can host the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final, but will have to win on the road in order to do so.

U.S. Soccer held the draw to determine the hosts of the Open Cup's semifinals Thursday morning at Soccer House in Chicago. After beating the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 3-0 in a quarterfinal last night, the Fire learned they will be heading on the road for the first time in this year's tournament for the semifinal.

The Fire will travel to take on the New England Revolution on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m.

The LA Galaxy will host FC Dallas in the other semifinal.

The other part of Thursday's draw was to determine the hosting priority for the final. The Fire were given the top spot in that, meaning if the Fire beat the Revolution, they will host the final in September at a date still to be determined. If the Fire lose, the winner of the Galaxy-Dallas semifinal will host the final.

This is the same result in the draw as last year, when the Fire traveled to Philadelphia for a semifinal with the chance to host the final with a victory. The Fire lost 1-0.

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The Fire are four-time winners of the U.S. Open Cup. The last time they made the final was 2011, a 2-0 loss at Seattle. The last time the Fire hosted the final was in 2006, which is also the last time the Fire won the tournament.

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.

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof involved in car crash on Thursday morning

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USA TODAY

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof involved in car crash on Thursday morning

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof was involved in a car accident on his way to practice Thursday morning that sent him to the hospital with minor injuries.

According to authorities and the Secretary of State’s Office, a box truck crashed into the Dutch player’s 2013 Volkswagen and another vehicle in the 5900 block of South Harlem. Kappelhof’s vehicle rolled over and two people fled from the scene.

The driver ran on foot and the passenger moved into the driver’s seat before driving the truck onto the Stevenson Expressway after the crash, officials said. After the damaged vehicle broke down, police say the same passenger tried to jump into the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Both were taken into custody.

Team officials said Kappelhof was treated and released from the hospital without indicators of a concussion. The 27-year-old was reportedly seen at Toyota Park after the crash and did not have any serious injuries. The other driver who was hit by the box truck was also treated, police said.

This season in league play with the Fire, Kappelhof has three assists in 16 games. The international product was a 2017 MLS All-Star and the Defensive Player of the Year for the Fire last season. He was signed in 2016 and has made one MLS Cup Playoffs appearance.