Fire still finalizing roster in final week of preseason


Fire still finalizing roster in final week of preseason

It's the final week of the preseason, but there are still a number of questions surrounding the Chicago Fire's roster.

While it doesn't sound like there will be any new major signings of players not currently in camp, there are decisions to make regarding trialists and potential loans to affiliate Saint Louis FC.

For example, even after John Goossens has been a standout performer in the preseason, coach Veljko Paunovic remained mum on his status.

"Obviously you saw the game, he performed very good," Paunovic said during his weekly conference call with media on Monday. "What I can say right now is his status as a trialist is still the same and if something changes about him, we will let you know.”

[MORE: Must-see: Goossens' volley goal]

The Major League Soccer roster compliance date of March 1 sets a firm deadline for teams, but Paunovic did tease that there could be some announcements in the next week ahead of that date. He added that there will "probably" be some players loaned to St. Louis, but that they want to see how players perform this week. Other than that the first-year coach didn't give much away.

"Obviously we have some guys and trialists who we will try in different positions for the games to come so we can have a better insight of what they can bring to our team," Paunovic said.

Paunovic was complimentary of the central defense pairing of Johan Kappelhof and Joao Meira. Both players are new to the league and are from different European countries, which made their first game together a challenge. Paunovic said they did well against Vancouver on Sunday given the circumstances.

On the tactical side, Paunovic spoke about the team's high press. It created the first goal against Vancouver, with a Matt Polster takeaway giving Goossens the ball just outside the box before he scored.

"There were a couple of times where we had sets of two or three minutes of the high pressing and where we scored one goal," Paunovic said. "We scored the first goal and we pushed Vancouver a couple of times into an uncomfortable zone with the possession they tried to have. That was very, very good. We have to work on that still.”

[SHOP FIRE: Get your Fire gear here]

Brazilian newcomer Rodrigo Ramos has joined the team in Portland and Monday will mark his first full session with the team. Paunovic said he wants to see him play in at least one of the two remaining preseason games, but that will depend on his fitness.

Also, David Accam sat out the game on Sunday due to illness. Paunovic addressed his status.

“He has some issues and we didn’t want to make him push hard for this game even though he is recovered now," Paunovic said. "We are working on his fitness and he is doing great. He is very engaged this preseason and we have a special approach for him knowing that he had issues earlier."

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.