Fire

Fire trade to add defensive depth, but mostly stand pat on trade deadline day

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USA TODAY

Fire trade to add defensive depth, but mostly stand pat on trade deadline day

There were plenty of rumors, but no moves through the summer transfer window for the Chicago Fire.

That changed on the last day of the window being open. The Fire made a trade with the Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday to add defender Christian Dean. Going the other way, the Fire sent $50,000 of general allocation money to the Whitecaps with the potential for more depending on Dean’s appearances with the Fire.

If Dean, 24, makes 12 or more starts in 2018, the Fire will send another $50,000 of targeted allocation money to Vancouver. Vancouver also retained a percentage of any transfer fees the Fire may get by selling Dean to a team outside the league by 2020. Dean’s contract is guaranteed through 2018 with options for 2019 and 2020.


Centerback depth is something Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez has said was something the team needed since early in the season. With Dean, the Fire now have four players at the position to go with Johan Kappelhof, Joao Meira and Jonathan Campbell. In the short term, it would be surprising to see him get much playing time without an injury to one of the three players on the roster.

Dean, 24, was the No. 3 pick in the 2014 draft after playing three years at Cal. He played nine times in his first two years with the Whitecaps, with four of those being starts. In 2016, Dean suffered a broken bone in his foot just before the start of the regular season and missed the whole year.

This season, Dean has made three starts for the Whitecaps and four more starts for the club’s USL team. For what it’s worth, in Dean’s three games this year, Vancouver played to a scoreless draw, a 3-2 loss and a 3-0 loss in which he was subbed out when it was 1-0 in the second half.   

He started three of the first five Whitecaps matches before suffering another foot injury. The Whitecaps listed his injury as a stress reaction in the fifth metatarsal of his left foot suffered in training on April 25.

The Dean trade isn’t likely to be significant to the 2017 Fire’s chances of success in the playoffs, but depth is a welcome addition at a position the team was thin at. For the most part, the lack of big moves shows that Rodriguez and the Fire were more or less satisfied with where the roster stands.

“We always said that we work on our roster almost without stop,” coach Veljko Paunovic said after training on Wednesday.

The Fire had brought in some defenders to train with the team as trialists, but none of them stuck. Just under two weeks ago, Rodriguez said he didn’t feel “comfortable” with the options the team had as far as filling out that defensive depth. He also said they wouldn’t add a player “just to check a box on a list.”

“I think it’s very important in these moments that we remain disciplined,” Rodriguez said then. “We have spoken about and had a three-year plan that admittedly is accelerated a bit by our ability to be nimble and capture opportunities. But the other part of our plan is where we try to create a championship program and to have sustainability.”

Throughout the summer there had been rumors of the Fire chasing Colombian national team player Juan Quintero. That move broke down, for this transfer window at least, with Quintero extending his loan spell at Colombian club Independiente Medellín for six more months.

Rumors of David Accam’s exit were rampant throughout the last few weeks, but it appears more likely that he will stay through the end of the season. While the MLS trade and transfer window closed on Wednesday, that only restricts players coming into or moving within the league. The transfer window for much of Europe closes at the end of August, meaning Accam can still leave, though it appears less likely that will happen without the Fire being able to add another player in his place.

So while the addition of Dean does fill a need, the lack of other moves show that the Fire mostly stood pat with the team that is currently second in the Eastern Conference.

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.