Fire

Fire, NYCFC scoreless in Yankee Stadium

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Fire, NYCFC scoreless in Yankee Stadium

After a 4-3 game was played between these two teams just over a month ago, it seems odd that it was a scoreless draw in the rematch.

Yet, that's exactly what happened on Sunday. The Chicago Fire traveled to Yankee Stadium to play New York City FC for the second time in the young 2016 season and came away with a 0-0 draw.

From a recordkeeping standpoint the draw will go down as the match that extended the Fire's winless streak on the road to 27 matches, which equaled the league record set by the New York Red Bulls franchise in 2009. However, from a 2016 standpoint it extended the Fire's unbeaten run to four matches and was a second road draw in two trips away from Toyota Park.

Both the Fire and NYCFC have matching 1-1-3 records through five matches. The six points both clubs have keep them on the good side of the playoff line in the early part of the season.

[SHOP FIRE: Get your Fire gear right here]

From a tactical standpoint Fire coach Veljko Paunovic went with the same starting lineup he sent out in the 1-0 win against Philadelphia eight days ago. Arturo Alvarez showed some skill moves in the first half, but nothing led to a direct chance on goal. The Fire didn't even register a shot on goal through the 90 minutes.

In the second half the Fire appeared to score a goal in the 60th minute, but it was called back for offside. A long free kick was lobbed into the box and an initial header by the Fire kept the ball moving towards the goal and finally Jonathan Campbell headed in a goal. After a lengthy delay the players finally realized the goal had been called back for offside on the initial header. Replays showed that Johan Kappelhof appeared offside but Campbell appeared to be onside. Unless Kappelhof affected the play by getting a touch on the ball or affecting the goalkeeper, the goal should have stood.

Almost immediately after the goal was called back, NYCFC came right back with a shot on goal by Mix Diskerud.

Over the final 20 minutes the Fire were able to hold on for the draw and clearly had that in mind as a desirable result with some minor stalling tactics down the stretch. Goalkeeper Matt Lampson was able to deny David Villa in the 84th minute and the Fire survived some chaos in their own penalty box a minute later. Lampson was credited with eight saves.

[MORE: Veljko Paunovic's coaching tendencies starting to emerge]

Rookie Alex Morrell made his MLS debut as an 84th minute substitute for Gilberto. Defender Eric Gehrig, who has been out due to injury to start the season, was available on the substitute list for the first time this season.

The Fire return to action Saturday at 4 p.m. against the Montreal Impact, which will be aired on CSN Chicago.

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.