Fire

Fire left despondent after loss to Rapids: ‘It's unacceptable’

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Fire left despondent after loss to Rapids: ‘It's unacceptable’

Of the six losses the Chicago Fire have encountered at Toyota Park this season, arguably none were met with more frustration and disappointment than Saturday night's defeat to the Colorado Rapids.

Pablo Mastroeni's side had brought up the rear of the Western Conference for much of the season, as had Frank Yallop's group in the Eastern Conference. Though both remained glued to last place in their respective regions by night's end, Colorado's sucker-punch, counter-attack goal - the lone tally on the night - breathed life into the visitors, who had only registered seven goals in 11 games on the road heading into Saturday's cross-conference clash.

For the Fire, the thorough and consummate 2-0 toppling of FC Dallas at the beginning of August has become a distant memory. Since then, elimination from the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup - sandwiched between a 1-0 loss to the Portland Timbers and last weekend's 3-3 draw at the Philadelphia Union - has seen lingering discontentment among fans boil over.

[RELATED: Fire done in by first-minute goal, fall to Rapids]

"We had an idea going into the game," Homegrown midfielder Harry Shipp said. "You can't blame them. They want to support a team that's doing well on the field, and the last couple years, we haven't been able to get it done. For us, we hope they keep supporting us and recognizing that we're doing everything possible. 

"We're not sleeping well at night. We're coming in, it's miserable for us to be here not doing well, because it is our livelihood. Hopefully they'll recognize that and know we want to do well just as much as they want us to do well." 

Inevitable factors have painted the Fire (6-13-5, 23 points) in a harsher light than perhaps they deserve throughout 2015. In terms of team selection, losing players to injuries and international duty - a commonplace and harsh reality all MLS clubs can attest to - has become a talking point through the greater portion of 24 games. But defensive errors and lapses in concentration in key moments - amid the undoubted effort on display - leave the Men in Red searching for clues as to how to right the ship with just 10 fixtures remaining.

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Fire jersey here]

Attaining some semblance of stability and consistency heading into the final stretch will prove vital. With wins coming at a premium, costly mistakes, much like the ones that multiplied in the build-up to Dillon Serna's tap-in at the back post 54 seconds in, won't suffice if the Fire are to pluck anything positive from an otherwise disheartening campaign. 

“We can’t give up the goal, they got the one chance early, and it’s unacceptable from our part,” Shipp added. “We wanted to come out fast and press them, and we got caught high up the field, and that’s not acceptable. ... “The way we’ve played this year, we don’t necessarily deserve to have any luck, but tonight, there were some times where I thought we were a little bit unlucky.” 

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?

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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.