Fire score late to salvage home draw against Orlando

Fire score late to salvage home draw against Orlando

For once, the Chicago Fire were the team to score a late goal and change the result.

Unfortunately for the Fire, they scored that late goal after they were already trailing at home. Razvan Cocis’ 78th minute header gave the Fire a 2-2 draw with visiting Orlando on Sunday.

John Goossens gave the Fire an early spark, but Orlando’s big players came up with big plays in the first half. Goossens pinged a shot in off the post from outside the box for his second goal of the season.

However, for the third game in a row the Fire (4-11-7, 19 points) gave up a goal soon after scoring one. Three minutes later Cyle Larin held off Jonathan Campbell to get a touch on a bouncing ball in the box and tie the game for Orlando (5-6-12, 27 points).

"I think these are the things that we have to improve again," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. "We don’t have to be afraid when we have a good result in our hands. We have to manage better.

The Fire opened the match with a three-man backline consisting of Johan Kappelhof, Jonathan Campbell and Eric Gehrig. Orlando’s counter to that was to have Kaka play out wide left where he saw a lot of the ball and with time and space. The Fire adjusted, moving Kappelhof to right back and shifting Brandon Vincent to a more defensive position at left back in a flat back four.

However, that didn’t stop Orlando or Kaka. The Brazilian gave the Lions the lead in the 32nd minute on a rebound after a Larin header hit the post.

“Obviously we had a lot of issues on the right side with Kaka," Paunovic said. "Very good by (Orlando coach) Jason Kreis, very smart moving him on the sideline. I think also we struggled there. Once we did our adjustments, switching to 4-2-3-1 and putting Kappelhof, our maybe most experienced guy in our defense, against Kaka. We were able to stop him. When I say stop him, I know what I am saying because it’s very difficult to stop Kaka. We all know who is Kaka, but I think he did a great job."

Cocis saved the Fire from a defeat by heading in a Brandon Vincent cross following a short corner in what was a wide open game. The Fire held an 8-7 edge in shots on target.

"I think at least this time it was a good and better reaction in the second half," Cocis said. "We stepped up higher in the field, which was great, and it feels good when I see that we can be there. We can be higher up the field, dominate the opponent and stay there. As you saw even after we scored the second goal, we could have scored the third one.

The Fire extended their home unbeaten run to 10 matches.

[SHOP: Buy your own Fire home jersey here]

A win could have brought the Fire closer to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, which Orlando currently is tied for, but instead the Fire remain eight points back. Sunday’s match was an opportunity to gain three points on the team they were chasing. Instead, it’s another missed opportunity.

The Fire’s next game is at Montreal on Saturday.

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.