Fire

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.

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai

katai.jpg
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

kap.jpg
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.