Fire

Fire notes: Bliss urging Men in Red to play spoiler to Red Bulls

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Fire notes: Bliss urging Men in Red to play spoiler to Red Bulls

When the New York Red Bulls (17-10-6, 57 points) walk into Toyota Park, and step onto the field to face the Fire (8-19-6, 30 points) for the third and final time this season, the thought of playing spoiler to Jesse Marsch's group would be a fitting conclusion in the eyes of interim coach Brian Bliss.

The last time the Fire tasted a home loss against the Red Bulls, Bob Bradley, the Men in Red's inaugural head coach and then-New York/New Jersey MetroStars marched into Soldier Field, and walked away with a 3-0 victory on May 14, 2005.

A Fire win against the Red Bulls, who've already clinched the No. 1 playoff seed in the Eastern Conference, could shake up the MLS Supporters' Shield race on #DecisionDay.

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Fire jersey here]

"That would be great," said Bliss, whose training session Wednesday was attended by newly appointed General Manager Nelson Rodríguez. "Obviously it would be a win, if we can win at home, for ourselves and for our fans who have supported us all year. There's nothing better than upsetting somebody else's tea party. If we can do that and play that role, I think guys can walk off the field and say they at least accomplished something at the end of the season."

Some notes from training...  

- Whether younger players enter the fold come Sunday's regular-season finale is still up for debate. Bliss was receptive to the notion when it was first broached prior to the Fire's convincing 3-1 win over the New England Revolution on Oct. 3. The likes of Homegrown midfielder Collin Fernandez, goalkeeper Alec Kann and others come to mind, but Bliss may be up against the wall.      

“I’d like to," Bliss added. "Look, the league is built for a reason the way it is and when you’ve got New York and Dallas fighting for the Supporters’ Shield, it’s tough to say, ‘Alright, I’m going to throw three guys in there.’ I think we’d be disingenuous to Dallas. I’m not even saying that the younger guys wouldn’t give the performance that a senior guy would.”

[RELATED: Bliss talks 2016 Fire roster outlook; CHIvNY start time pushed back]

- Two USL players were invited to train with the club this week: Saint Louis FC centerback James Musa rejoined after enjoying a stint during the previous international break; and Louisville City FC midfielder Charlie Adams was brought in as a guest player.

- Midfielder Razvan Cocis took a couple knocks in the 4-0 loss at D.C. United over the weekend, and was held out of practice along with defender Ty Harden and forward Mike Magee, who did not travel. Cocis should return to full training on Thursday.

- With the Fire missing out on the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons and the 2015 campaign nearing its end, contract talks are fast approaching. Deals for Harden, Magee and midfielder Matt Watson are set to expire, and "a handful" of others have options that could be exercised. 

“I would say 50 percent, maybe, that are either out-of-contract or on an option, and 50 percent are guaranteed [for 2016]," Bliss said.

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai

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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

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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.