Fire sign homegrown players Joey Calistri, Drew Conner


Fire sign homegrown players Joey Calistri, Drew Conner

The Fire made the first player acquisitions of the offseason by signing homegrown players Joey Calistri and Drew Conner to professional contracts.

Calistri, a 22-year-old forward from Deerfield, was a four-year starter at Northwestern. He tallied 30 goals and 10 assists in 68 appearances, 65 of which were starts. As a freshman in 2012 he was named Big Ten Freshman of the Year and was a first team All-Big Ten honoree. Calistri was also first team All-Big Ten in 2013 and earned second team honors in 2014 and 2015. He was a two-time all state selection for Deerfield while playing all four years in high school.

Calistri represented the Chicago Fire Academy team when he was in high school and later the PDL squad when he was at Northwestern.

“Coming up through the Fire youth system, the dream has always been to play for the first team,” Calistri said in a club statement. “It’s an incredible honor to play for my hometown club. With the new technical staff in place, this is a fresh start not only for me but for the club, and I can’t wait to get going with this new team and see what the future holds.”

[MORE FIRE: Fire reportedly pursuing Portland midfielder Will Johnson]

Conner, a 21-year-old midfielder from Cary, was also a four-year starter in the Big Ten. He tallied six goals and 12 assists in 73 matches, all starts, for Wisconsin. Conner was named Illinois Gatorade boys soccer Player of the Year in the 2011-2012 school year after playing his only year of high school for Cary-Grove. He was an All-Freshman team pick in the Big Ten in 2012 and followed up with second team All-Big Ten honors a year later.

“It's exciting to play for the club that invested so much in my development as a player over the years,” Conner said in the statement. “I remember going to Fire games ever since I was a kid, and it's awesome that this moment is here and I'm getting this opportunity. Hopefully I can be an inspiration to younger players in the Fire youth system.”

Calistri and Conner join current homegrown players on the Fire roster Harry Shipp, Patrick Doody and Collin Fernandez. The club has now signed eight homegrown players in its history.

[SHOP FIRE: Get your Fire gear right here]

They are the first additions since the hiring of coach Veljko Paunovic.

“We're very excited to have Drew and Joey with us,” Paunovic said. “I like their personality on the field and their overall character. They have a great desire to learn, improve and give their best. They share the same values and passion as our community and we can't wait to start working together. We welcome them to the Chicago Fire family.”

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.

Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon


Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

As far as notorious players in MLS with a history of scoring big goals, Alan Gordon is one of the first names on that list.

The Fire signed the 36-year-old forward on Friday, continuing to add depth to a roster that appeared paper thin throughout the preseason. Gordon, who had been on trial with the Fire for part of the preseason and even after the season opener, signed a one-year deal.

Gordon adds plenty of experience from being in the league since 2004 and having scored 55 goals with five different teams. For the past few years he has been used primarily as a substitute, but has still maintained his reputation for scoring goals late in games.

At 6-foot-3 he brings plenty of size and strength to the team and is one of the best players on headers in the league. Last season the Fire failed to score directly off a set piece, which was both due to consistently poor service from corner kicks and a lack of players adept at finishing them off. Gordon should give the Fire a late-game option in that area.

Elliot Collier had impressed the Fire enough to earn a contract as a third-round pick and an international player and even came off the bench in the opening loss to Sporting Kansas City, but it appears the team wanted more experience at forward with Gordon.