Fire

Fire play to scoreless draw with Columbus

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Fire play to scoreless draw with Columbus

It wasn't the most exciting match, but the Chicago Fire earned a draw for the second straight match.

The Fire played to a 0-0 draw with the visiting Columbus Crew on Saturday. Neither team created many chances with just five shots on goal combined and just one of those shots coming from the Fire.

The biggest news of the game came in the lineups before the match when it was announced that David Accam had a knee sprain and was not available. Accam, who has two goals and an assist in two matches, has been the Fire's best player this season. His absence meant the Fire's attack was significantly shorthanded and it showed.

“David is very important for us," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "Obviously his quality in counterattack, but also his speed and also his talent is very important for us.

“We didn’t change. We played the same system. The only thing is we played against a very, very good team. This is what we have to understand. Also I believe we were very focused on our defensive game plan, which we did very well.”

It was the third straight game the Fire were playing without a regular starter, with John Goossens missing the opener and Gilberto sitting out in Orlando. Accam was recently called into Ghana's national team, but will also not play in Ghana's two upcoming qualifiers.

Without Accam sparking the attack, the Fire (0-1-2) struggled to create chances and to keep possession of the ball. Meanwhile, the Fire's five-man defense was able to hold off the Crew (0-2-1).

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Goossens also picked up an injury on Saturday, being subbed out at halftime with a hamstring injury, according to Paunovic. Once Paunovic subbed on Nick LaBrocca, who made his club debut, for Kennedy Igboananike in the 60th minute the Fire were better in possession, but still neither team could score.

"This is the defensive performance that we need," Paunovic said. "I think we needed more clarity, more possession and that’s what we missed. In order to get opportunities sometimes you have to counterattack, but you also have to have good possession of the ball and that’s what we lacked today.”

The Fire's defense has gone from poor in the first match, giving up four goals to New York City FC, to just one allowed in Orlando while playing most of the match a man down, to now a shutout. The team is putting the positive spin on the defensive side despite the lack of offense.

“I think it was very important (to get a shutout)," defender Jonathan Campbell said. "Coming from the first game then to the next game, only giving up one goal, and for this one zero. I think it’s big improvement for us and something we can build off of.”

The Fire return to action against Philadelphia on April 2, also in Toyota Park, after taking a weekend off for the international window.

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.