Fire

Fire host red-hot Columbus on CSN+

Fire host red-hot Columbus on CSN+

After a disappointing home draw against Montreal last weekend, there is more emphasis for the Chicago Fire to win the remaining two home games in a three-game homestand.

Next up is the Columbus Crew, which the Fire opened the season against with a 1-1 draw in Ohio. Saturday's match against the Crew will air on CSN+ (channel finder) with coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

These next two home games, this one and against New England next Saturday, represent a key opportunity to gather some points before the Fire head out on a three-game road trip against tough opposition (Toronto, New York Red Bulls, LA). Columbus, though, is riding a three-game winning streak and leads the Eastern Conference.

The importance of the games is not lost on Fire coach Veljko Paunovic.

"We believe that we are improving," Paunovic said. "We are still in a good spot and we are building that momentum. It's most important to win our games at home, but building that momentum so we can have a long winning streak and that's what we are looking for. All our energy, all our thoughts are directing towards building that momentum. The momentum that we couldn't build in the past and we were very close. I think we are getting there now, too."

For David Accam, a match against the Crew means seeing some familiar faces. A pair of Accam's countrymen and fellow Ghanaian national team teammates, Harrison Afful and Jonathan Mensah, are on the Crew. Accam, a left wing, goes against Afful, a right back, often during matches and beat Mensah when he scored the Fire's goal in Columbus in March.

"It's cool because I knew these guys since childhood and it's always fun when I go against them," Accam said. "When I scored that goal, [Afful] was like 'You only score like that against us so we need to take our revenge next game.'"

Mensah may not be available due to a hamstring strain. He was not a full participant in training this week. Homegrown player Alex Crognale filled in for Mensah at centerback in last week's 2-0 win against Orlando.

Columbus may have an addition in the form of Kekuta Manneh. The speedy winger was recently acquired in a trade with Vancouver and could make his Crew debut. He could give another weapon to an attack that already features Ola Kamara and Justin Meram, who have three goals each so far this season.

For the Fire, Matt Polster could be making his debut. The midfielder has been working his way back from a knee injury suffered early in the preseason and was a full participant in training this week. He and Luis Solignac, who is dealing with a left knee strain, are both questionable. Juninho will be serving his red card suspension after getting two yellows against Montreal.

Michael de Leeuw had six stiches in his left hand after getting stepped on against Montreal. He was in training this week with a protective glove on his hand, but is still listed as questionable as he regains fitness from a hamstring injury.

The match also is the second game of the Bastian Schweinsteiger era. The Crew are well aware of the Fire's new German midfielder.

"We have to be ready for every time (Schweinsteiger) has the ball, he can make the final pass," defender Nicolai Naess told the Columbus Dispatch. "We have to be ready for everything. We have to look at the video of how they played their last game."

Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew

Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.

TV: CSN+ (channel finder)

When: Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m with Fire Pregame Live

Records: Fire (1-1-2, 5 points), Crew (3-1-1, 10 points)

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

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@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.

Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

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USA TODAY

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.