Fire

Fire: Sean Johnson, Eric Gehrig suffer season-ending injuries

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Fire: Sean Johnson, Eric Gehrig suffer season-ending injuries

The Fire suffered two, significant blows to its back line. 

Goalkeeper Sean Johnson and defender Eric Gehrig will both miss the remainder of the year, the club announced Tuesday afternoon. Johnson, who missed time earlier this season with minor injuries, tore the labrum in his left shoulder and will still train with the team on a limited basis, per club release. Gehrig sustained a navicular stress fracture, which will require surgery on Friday.

"It's unfortunate to lose Sean and Eric at this point in the season, but these types of things happen in soccer," interim head coach Brian Bliss said in a statement. "Both players have been battling through pain over the last few weeks and they're tough guys, but it was important to us that we make sure they get a chance to heal up and be ready for the start of the 2016 season." 

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Both were held out of the Men in Red's 1-0 defeat to Orlando City SC over the weekend and did not dress after developing worrying signs in training the previous week.

With five games remaining, Jon Busch, who deputized for Johnson against the Lions, will get the starting nod with Alec Kann next in line. Johnson started 21 matches and played a crucial role in keeping the team in games with sprawling saves time and again.

After developing a predominantly competent partnership alongside captain Jeff Larentowicz at centerback, Gehrig's injury forces Bliss to reconsider his defensive depth. Ty Harden will be a likely shoe-in for Gehrig, with Daneil Cyrus as another viable option.

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?

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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.