Fire

Fire return home to take on Houston

Fire return home to take on Houston

The Chicago Fire endured an 0-3 road trip, but get to come back home Saturday against Houston.

The Fire traveled to both coasts over the course of nine days and lost all three games so the return home was probably welcome by the team. Awaiting the Fire (1-5-4, 7 points), which sit in last place in the Eastern Conference, is the last place team in the Western Conference, the Houston Dynamo (3-6-2, 11 points).

The game will be televised on CSN+ with a 4 p.m. kickoff. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live. Check out the channel finder to see how to find CSN+.

Despite the recent losing streak and a six-match winless streak, Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez didn't call it a must-win while hosting media at Toyota Park on Friday.

"Must-win to me is when you’re facing elimination in playoffs," Rodriguez said. "In sports vernacular that to me is the only must-win game. A win would help. A loss makes it more difficult. I can’t deny those things, but it’s not must-win.”

Regardless of how important stopping the current slide is, the Fire will have to do so without a number of players. First, David Accam received a one-game suspension and a fine from the MLS Disciplinary Committee for an elbow against Connor Lade in the first half against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday. This comes just after Accam made his first start in that match on his way back from injury.

Additionally, John Goossens (knee), Michael Harrington (adductor strain) and Collin Fernandez (ankle sprain) will also be out. Arturo Alvarez was listed as questionable due to hip pain in the injury report.

That obviously limits coach Veljko Paunovic's options. None of those four injured players played on Wednesday so it's possible Paunovic opts for a similar lineup with Gilberto taking Accam's place in the lineup.

The Dynamo began the season with 11 goals in the first three matches of 2016, but have scored more than one goal in a match just once in the eight games since. Giles Barnes (4 goals, 2 assists), Will Bruin (3 goals, 2 assists) and Andrew Wenger (3 goals, 2 assists) led the Dynamo's attack.

Houston also features former Fire players DaMarcus Beasley, Jalil Anibaba and Alex.

Chicago Fire vs. Houston Dynamo

When: 4 p.m.; coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live

TV: CSN+ (Channel finder)

Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.

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.