Fire lose in New England in David Accam's return

Fire lose in New England in David Accam's return

David Accam wasn't the answer to the Chicago Fire's offensive problems. At least not Saturday night in a 45-minute substitute appearance.

Accam played for the first time since March 11, but the Fire lost 2-0 in New England. The Ghanaian entered the match at the start of the second half in place of Gilberto, but was unable to spark the Fire's attack.

Without Accam, the Fire (1-4-4, 7 points) scored four goals in six and a half games. On Saturday, the Fire didn't manage a shot on target unless the deflected header by New England defender Andrew Farrell in added time counts.

"David recovered well," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said in the postgame quote sheet. "Our plan today was to play some minutes, [not 45], but in the end we had to make decisions. He was very aware of his abilities and what he needed to bring to the game. He is important for us, but we need to keep working on him and be careful; after being out for two months, you need to be careful, but we expect David to be fine for the next game." 

The loss to the Revolution (2-3-7, 13 points) could be the low point of the Fire's season so far. It is the first time the Fire have played a match that was decided by more than one goal and it marks back-to-back losses for the first time this season. In additon, New England was a team near the bottom of the standings. The Revolution had just one win in 11 matches coming in and comfortably got win No. 2 on Saturday.

With seven points from nine matches, the Fire have matched the worst start in club history. The 2013 team was 2-6-1 through nine matches.

Lee Nguyen got the scoring going with an impressive curling shot that found the upper 90 in the 22nd minute. Nguyen played a short corner and quickly received the return feed and scored off the inside of the post from a tight angle.

Femi Hollinger-Janzen put the game away in the 84th minute by heading into an open net after Juan Agudelo drew out Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson (four saves) and crossed the ball.

From a lineup standpoint, Fire coach Veljko Paunovic made a few changes from Wednesday's match in Vancouver. Given the cross-continent travel and the short turnaround, that shouldn't be a surprise.

Khaly Thiam got the start in his Fire debut, sitting next to Matt Polster in the Fire midfield. Thiam was replaced by Razvan Cocis in the 64th minute. Gilberto returned to the starting lineup after not playing in Vancouver. Brandon Vincent, who came off the bench Wednesday in place of Michael Harrington, made his first start since March 19 against Columbus.

Kei Kamara, whose trade from Columbus was announced early on Thursday, made a start in his debut for the Revolution. He had a shot on goal and was a focal point of the attack, but didn't factor directly into either of the goals.

The Fire conclude the road trip on Wednesday when they take on the New York Red Bulls.

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.