Fire host Revolution, boosted by return of Accam, Maloney


Fire host Revolution, boosted by return of Accam, Maloney

It's been some time since all three of the Chicago Fire's designated players graced the pitch at Toyota Park in unison.

May 30 -- a night underlined by arguably the team's most complete, 90-minute display of an otherwise topsy-turvy season in a 3-0 trouncing of the Montreal Impact -- was the last time David Accam, Kennedy Igboananike and Shaun Maloney were all at head coach Frank Yallop's disposal.

As the Men in Red gear up for Saturday's MLS regular-season clash with the New England Revolution (7:30 p.m. CT; CSN), the prospect of the trio's involvement from the outset appears increasingly likely.

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"It would be great," Yallop said after training Friday. "I'm looking forward to seeing if they all start; all three of them on the field and doing their thing. Kennedy comes alive in the Orlando game, gets two goals, which gives him a ton of confidence going into this match. I thought Shaun and David were back to their best.  

“Finally, we’ve got guys that can make a difference in the match. We saw that [Wednesday]. You can play however you want to play, but they make a big difference. Minutes is obviously an issue, but making sure we don’t get these guys re-injured is the big plan."

Having succumbed to various injuries and called in for international duty since the beginning of June, Accam and Maloney's injection into the lineup yielded unmistakable results for the Fire in Wednesday's 3-1 U.S. Open Cup triumph over Orlando City SC. Maloney's vibrant introduction paved the way for Igboananike's stellar 25-minute cameo, which, spurred on by Accam's insertion, triggered a ferocious and late onslaught from an attacking unit that will be much different than the group that tasted defeat to the Revolution on June 13.

Since the two sides squared off at Gillette Stadium, the Revolution lost five straight in league play before snapping their skid with a 1-0 win over New York City FC on July 18. Despite winning the last two meetings in Foxborough, Jay Heaps' outfit has struggled mightily in Chicago, taking three points away from Toyota Park just once in their last 10 visits. 

[MORE: Report: Fire, Impact vie for Didier Drogba]   

“[The Revolution] have talented players, and they’re a good side,” Yallop added. “They’ve not maybe had the best of runs lately, but every team’s dangerous in our league. All of a sudden, they get on a run, and they’re confident, and they go.

“We’re the same. I'm not sure everyone's looking forward to playing against our attacking corps, once we get going. That makes other teams maybe look at us a little bit differently than we showed them the last time."    

Barring Jeff Larentowicz (neck) -- expected to resume full training next week and render himself available for next Sunday's match against FC Dallas -- and Mike Magee, who's tending to a lingering sore knee and the birth of his son earlier in the week, the Fire emerge from a grueling spate of games fairly unscathed, much to the delight of Yallop.

"Hopefully most of them," Yallop replied, when asked how many starters from the Open Cup game would return to the lineup Saturday. "We had a good performance, and we're hoping to keep some continuity in the team. It's never easy with a quick turnaround."

NOTE: Retired defender Gonzalo Segares will be recognized for his 10-year Fire career prior to Saturday's match. At halftime, the club will also honor the Chicago Fire Academy U-18 team, which claimed the U.S. Soccer Development Academy national championship on July 18.

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

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


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, 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.