Fire return to RFK Stadium to face D.C. United


Fire return to RFK Stadium to face D.C. United

An international break may have prevented the Fire from building on their 3-1 triumph over the New England Revolution on Oct. 3, but it provided interim coach Brian Bliss with enough time to heal some niggling injuries and draw up a plan in advance of the penultimate match of the season.  

When the Fire (8-18-6, 30 points) return from their 15-day hiatus and line up against playoff-bound D.C. United (14-12-6, 48 points) on Sunday at RFK Stadium (1 p.m. CT; CSN), it'll mark the last opportunity to achieve an objective that's eluded the Chicago club since July 12, 2014: win away from home.

The Men in Red have accrued a dismal 0-11-5 record away from Toyota Park in 2015, adding to a winless stretch dating to last summer. This year alone, the Fire have dropped 18 points from winning positions on their travels: May 15 at New York City FC (2-2 D); June 3 at United (3-1 L); Aug. 16 at Philadelphia Union (3-3 D); Aug. 29 at Orlando City SC (1-1 D); Sept. 5 at Montreal Impact (4-3 L); Sept. 11 at New York Red Bulls (3-2 L) and Sept. 26 at Toronto FC (3-2 L).    

For interim coach Brian Bliss, ball retention and attention to detail in critical moments will be crucial if the Fire are to have any chance of stymieing Ben Olsen's group.   

[RELATED: Fire notes: Gilberto update; international call-ups return]

"Always on the road it's about trying to have the ball and weathering 15-minute spells when you don't have it and you're under siege a little bit, which is typical of any MLS game," Bliss said. "We don't have any issues scoring goals, it's about trying to keep the other guys off the board."

A near three-week break in play stemming from a bye week and a rescheduled game limited the Fire to just two regular season fixtures in April. Following a 3-2 victory over Toronto FC, 20 days elapsed before the Men in Red's next competitive match, during which the fitness component was heavily stressed by the previous coaching regime.

This time around, playoff hopes will have already been extinguished. But a more meticulous mentality phased in by Bliss and interim assistant coach Logan Pause - newly appointed General Manager Nelson Rodríguez will begin his tenure on Oct. 19 - has injected a newfound energy into members of the Fire first team, and has them feeling a little more optimistic as they approach the final pair of Eastern Conference contests.      

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Fire jersey here

Viewing information:

D.C. United vs. Chicago Fire

Kickoff time: 1 p.m. CT

Where: RFK Stadium; Washington, D.C.

Broadcast: 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?


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.