Fire

Fire renew affiliation partnership with USL club Saint Louis FC

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Fire renew affiliation partnership with USL club Saint Louis FC

Chicago Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez talked about the club’s affiliation with USL club Saint Louis FC earlier this week, and Thursday brought official renewal of the partnership between the two clubs.

The Fire will be able to loan players to Saint Louis FC and have the option to recall them throughout the season. Last season, the Fire loaned Patrick Doody, Kingsley Bryce and goalkeeper Alec Kann to St. Louis. Doody made 21 appearances for the club, Bryce played in 10 games and Kann, who was claimed by Sporting Kansas City during the re-entry draft in December, made 19 appearances in goal. Mike Magee also made one appearance for the USL club while returning from injury.

The United Soccer League will be a 29-team league in 2016 with six expansion teams set to debut. Saint Louis FC was an expansion club last season and posted an 8-11-9 record.

[SHOP: Gear up, Fire fans!]

A growing number of USL clubs are wholly owned by MLS clubs, which allows the MLS team to send more players under their control to the USL. The Los Angeles Galaxy started the trend in 2014 with LA Galaxy II and were joined by seven more in 2015 with three more set to debut this season. The Fire are one of nine MLS clubs that do not own a USL club.

Rodriguez spoke highly of the relationship with Saint Louis FC in a conference call on Tuesday, noting that two of the club’s coaches will join the Fire for preseason training in Tampa in early February and that Saint Louis FC coach Dale Schilly was at the MLS Combine to help provide input on players.

“We’ve had a lot of discussions with Saint Louis FC because we suspect that there are going to be players that we provide to them and they did such a great job last year with Alec Kann, Kingsley Bryce and Patrick Doody,” Rodriguez said. “We know they’ll do a great job again for us this year so it’s important that we did communicate and talk about what needs they may have in their roster so that did play a part in who we drafted and how we drafted. Saint Louis has been very, very good about stressing to us that our needs fall No. 1 and that they’ll work with us. At the same time we’re sensitive to wanting to make sure that we deliver value to the relationship as well.”

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.

Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

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USA TODAY

Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

As far as notorious players in MLS with a history of scoring big goals, Alan Gordon is one of the first names on that list.

The Fire signed the 36-year-old forward on Friday, continuing to add depth to a roster that appeared paper thin throughout the preseason. Gordon, who had been on trial with the Fire for part of the preseason and even after the season opener, signed a one-year deal.

Gordon adds plenty of experience from being in the league since 2004 and having scored 55 goals with five different teams. For the past few years he has been used primarily as a substitute, but has still maintained his reputation for scoring goals late in games.

At 6-foot-3 he brings plenty of size and strength to the team and is one of the best players on headers in the league. Last season the Fire failed to score directly off a set piece, which was both due to consistently poor service from corner kicks and a lack of players adept at finishing them off. Gordon should give the Fire a late-game option in that area.

Elliot Collier had impressed the Fire enough to earn a contract as a third-round pick and an international player and even came off the bench in the opening loss to Sporting Kansas City, but it appears the team wanted more experience at forward with Gordon.