Fire

Fire rue missed chances in loss to Sporting Kansas City

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Fire rue missed chances in loss to Sporting Kansas City

After failing to garner any results from Western Conference opponents this season, that trend continued for the Chicago Fire on Sunday in an end-to-end and topsy-turvy encounter with Sporting Kansas City.

The 1-0 defeat in front of 19,581 at Sporting Park effectively ended the Men in Red's run of three consecutive wins coming into the match, and it leaves Frank Yallop's side in sixth place in the Eastern Conference.

"We did enough to at least get a goal today and it’s just disappointing to come away with nothing out of the game," Yallop said in his post-match press conference.

Despite being held goalless for the first time since their home-opening loss to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in March and limited to 38 percent of possession in the first half, the Fire weathered the storm of Sporting KC's relentless pressure throughout the first half.

Guly do Prado, earning his second start of the season, combined well with Designated Player David Accam at the corner of the area in the 13th minute and unleashed a low, hard shot at goalkeeper Tim Melia, who palmed the effort away. Six minutes later, Chris Ritter swung in a ball that found the head of Eric Gehrig, but the defender was denied once more by an alert Melia.

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Vermes' side continued to pile on the pressure and their most dangerous and clear-cut chances came in a span of two minutes. A delightful scoop from Benny Feilhaber over the top of the Fire defense found an unmarked Dom Dwyer, but the forward spurned his opportunity in the 31st minute. Two minutes later, defender Kevin Ellis rocked a header off of Sean Johnson's crossbar, which sparked a Fire counter attack toward the other end, with do Prado being foiled by Melia once again.

After emerging from the halftime break on the back foot, the Men in Red showed signs of gaining momentum and working their way back into the game, but a series of poorly timed runs and mental lapses prevented them from getting a clear sight at Melia's goal.

In the 75th minute, the Fire defense unraveled when former defender Jalil Anibaba sent in a cross from the right flank and picked out substitute Paulo Nagamura, who made no mistake and sent his looping header past a diving Sean Johnson to give the home side a 1-0 lead.

"In the second half I thought we did well," Yallop said. "I thought we were on top of the game; we bossed it a little bit. The goal was kind of out of the blue and once that happens, you’re on top and think you’re going to win, and all of a sudden a goal and it changes things."

[RELATED: Fire face Sporting Kansas City in 50th all-time meeting]

The goal was followed by an increased initiative from Yallop's side to push for an equalizer, as Quincy Amarikwa and Kennedy Igboananike entered the fray, but any chance of salvaging a result was lost after David Accam was shown a straight red card in the 89th minute for a flailing arm in the face of Anibaba.

The loss leaves the Men in Red with nine points after seven games played in the Eastern Conference, but they will look to call a halt to the losing trend against Western Conference opponents when they face Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park on May 9 at 2 p.m.

"We’ve got three difficult away games coming up in-conference," captain Jeff Larentowicz said after the match. "We’ve got to have the ability to play well on the road. At this point we haven’t done that. We’ve shown we can play at home, but on the road it’s a different story."

"Our first focus is Real Salt Lake next Saturday," midfielder Harry Shipp added. "Hopefully we play well and get three points at home, then we start focusing on those conference road games."

Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs)

(4-4-1-1): Sean Johnson; Eric Gehrig (Lovel Palmer, 85'), Jeff Larentowicz (C), Adailton, Joevin Jones; Harry Shipp, Matt Polster, Chris Ritter (Kennedy Igboananike, 77'), David Accam; Shaun Maloney; Guly do Prado (Quincy Amarikwa, 72').

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

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NBC Sports Chicago

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

Manchester City is coming off a season in which it dominated the English Premier League to the tune of a record 100-point season.

City is kicking off the preseason of its title defense in Chicago. City takes on Borussia Dortmund at Soldier Field on Friday night.

The last time the reigning Premier League champions were in Chicago was when rivals Manchester United came to Soldier to take on the Chicago Fire in 2011.

The Citizens won’t have the full arsenal of stacked stars for its U.S. tour, which also includes stops in New York and Miami as part of the International Champions Cup. Many of the team’s best players are getting a break after playing in the World Cup. Belgium’s Kevin De Bruyne, one of the stars of the tournament, is one of six Man City players to reach the semifinals.

Paul Dickov, who played for City for nearly 10 years between 1996 and 2008, is on tour with the team and talked about City’s preparations.

“The reason the clubs want to come to the States and play in International Champions Cup is the facilities are fantastic, the training facilities, the hotels, the treatment they get and just give them the best preparation going into what’s going to be a hard season,” Dickov said. “Nobody has won the Premier League back-to-back titles for nearly 10 years now so it’s going to be tough. Coming here and being able to prepare the way they can in the United States is going to put them on a long way to regain the title again.”

City brought the Premier League trophy to Wrigley Field on Thursday for the Cubs-Cardinals game. Dickov got to throw out the first pitch. The Scotsman threw a strike, much to his relief.

“I was quite calm beforehand, but I must admit when I got out there and I had to walk out there both hands started getting a bit sweaty,” he said. “I managed to make it and I got a fantastic reception off the Chicago Cubs fans so thank you to everybody at Chicago Cubs for having me there. It was great. Something I’ll never forget.”


Dickov compared Cubs fans to City fans in the way both teams struggled for a long time before finding success.

“They stuck by us through thick and thin when things weren’t as great,” Dickov said of Man City fans. “I suppose it’s a little bit like the Chicago Cubs here in Chicago. The fans turn out, they get 30-40 thousand, great atmosphere, back their team.”

While promoting the game, the Premier League trophy made multiple stops in Chicago, including with the White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on an off day.

City also took the trophy and new signing Riyad Mahrez, who just joined Man City from 2016 champions Leicester City, to Haas Park in Logan Square. Haas Park includes a soccer field donated by Manchester City and the American embassy of the United Arab Emirates in 2012.

“The outcome of it has been great,” Dickov said. “Thousands of children and families benefiting, not just from the soccer part of it, but the education program as well. To be down there the other day for the full day and seeing the joy in the kids face seeing soccer here and the other activities that are on is great because, yeah, football is fantastic, soccer is fantastic and when you’re out there and you play you want to win, but it’s important, especially from Manchester City’s point of view, the city and the community. The stuff that they do off the field is second to none and it’s giving something back.”

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai

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USA TODAY

Chicago Fire permanently sign midfielder Aleksandar Katai

The Fire have secured the transfer of midfielder Aleksandar Katai from Deportivo Alavés of the Spanish La Liga, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.

This season’s breakout playmaker has been signed with Chicago through 2019, with a 2020 club option. Before the transfer, Katai was on loan from Alavés, which was set to expire after July.

The Serbian player has emerged as one of the most important pieces of the Fire’s offense this season. Since joining the club on Feb. 6, Katai has scored eight goals in 18 league matches, tying forward Nemanja Nikolić for the most on the team. Katai also has three assists in 2018.

The 27-year-old’s biggest game of the year came against New York City FC last month when he scored two goals to lead the Fire to 3-2 victory. His production this season in the MLS has been much more significant than it was in 23 matches with Alavés, where Katai only tallied three goals and four assists.

His transfer fee is unknown but, according to Sam Stejskal of MLSsoccer.com, he will be a “Targeted Allocation Money player” for the rest of this season and will not be a Designated Player until 2019. Whatever the official price was, acquiring Katai for a lengthier amount of time seemed like a must.

Throughout this season, the Fire were rumored to be in talks with legendary Spanish striker Fernando Torres. On Tuesday, he signed with Sagan Tosu, a Japanese club. The Fire signed Katai the next day, showing that the team was possibly waiting for Torres to leave the market.

Chicago will face the Philadelphia Union Wednesday night at Toyota Park, where Katai will look to continue his impressive season.