Fire

Fire return home to take on Sporting Kansas City

Fire return home to take on Sporting Kansas City

After the Chicago Fire suffered a sixth straight road loss on Saturday, the Fire get to return home.

The Fire host Sporting Kansas City on Wednesday. The match will be televised on CSN with coverage starting at 7 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live before the game starts at approximately 7:30 p.m. The match will also be simulcast with a Spanish language call on CSN+.

While the Fire (3-8-5, 14 points) are coming off a forgettable 1-0 loss in Toronto, Sporting KC (8-8-4, 28 points) has won two in a row and is 3-1-1 in its last five matches.

“They’ve had a lot of success over the last few years,” midfielder Michael Stephens said. “They’ve been a playoff team, played in championships, they have some international players in Graham Zusi and Matt Besler so we got to be ready for a tough game.”

Zusi and Besler have not been at the heart of Sporting’s recent run and may not even factor in at Toyota Park. Zusi is listed as questionable with a hamstring strain and did not play in Sunday’s 3-1 win against New York City FC. Besler came on as a sub in the July 3 win against Columbus in his first game back from the Copa America Centenario, but did not play against New York City.

Leading goal-scorer Dom Dwyer (eight goals) also didn’t play on Sunday due to suspension, but will be available on Wednesday. Benny Feilhaber, Brad Davis and Roger Espinoza are the marquee names in Sporting’s midfield.

[SHOP: Get your Fire jersey here]

“I think they play very good as a team,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. “I think they have very good pace. In every line they are very well balanced. They have that toughness that we are also looking for. I think we have it, too, but the level they have and especially a team that plays together for a long time.”

As for the Fire, Matt Polster is expected to return, either in a starting role or off the bench, after being out since suffering a concussion in the U.S. Open Cup against the Indy Eleven on June 15. Michael de Leeuw could make his first start for the Fire after debuting as a sub in Saturday’s loss.

Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City

When: 7:30 p.m. (coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live)

TV: CSN (simulcast on CSN+ in Spanish; channel finder)

Where: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Ill.

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?

portillos.jpg
@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.