Fire

Fire trade Patrick Nyarko to D.C. United

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Fire trade Patrick Nyarko to D.C. United

Fire fans are anxiously awaiting incoming players this offseason, but first another player has departed the club.

Patrick Nyarko was traded to D.C. United for a second round pick, it was announced on Wednesday.

The pick the Fire acquired is the 13th pick in the second round, 33rd overall. The Fire’s natural second round pick was traded to Orlando for Eric Gehrig last offseason.

The 29-year-old midfielder was the longest serving active member of the club after making 221 appearances for the Fire since being drafted with the seventh overall pick in the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. He is seventh on the club’s all-time appearance list. He tallied 23 goals and 41 assists in his Fire career.

Nyarko posted a letter to Fire fans on twitter and on the Fire’s website thanking fans and the club for his time in Chicago.

“No amount of words can describe my appreciation to you,” Nyarko said in the letter. “You have given a little kid from a small town in Ghana the opportunity to realize his dream of playing the game he has loved his entire life. For the past eight years I have been living this dream, but unfortunately that time has come to a halt. I have always embraced challenges.

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“At this particular point in my career these challenges take me to another city, and another club. I take consolation knowing that I call Chicago home and it will always hold a special place in my heart. I will forever cherish the experiences and memories that I have accumulated during my time here.”

This past season Nyarko made 19 appearances in MLS play, 14 of which were starts, scored three goals and had four assists. He also scored and had an assist in the U.S. Open Cup. Nyarko made his 2015 debut on June 30 in the U.S. Open Cup after recovering from a torn ACL suffered in 2014.

Nyarko gets to return to the D.C. area after playing collegiately at Virginia Tech for three years.

The Fire now are down to 14 players under contract, and that includes rookie homegrown signings Joey Calistri and Drew Conner and second-year players Patrick Doody, Collin Fernandez and Kingsley Bryce, who combined for eight appearances last year. Nyarko’s departure means that Eric Gehrig, at 28 years old, is now the oldest player on the team. Only Sean Johnson and Harry Shipp have been on the Fire since 2014 and only Johnson since 2013.

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.