Fire

Fire try to contain Montreal's Didier Drogba, Ignacio Piatti on the road

Fire try to contain Montreal's Didier Drogba, Ignacio Piatti on the road

The Chicago Fire are well aware of what Didier Drogba and Ignacio Piatti can do.

Drogba and Piatti make one of the best attack pairings in Major League Soccer for the Montreal Impact and already showed the Fire why.

Back on April 16, Drogba and Piatti both scored at Toyota Park to hand the Fire one of the most disappointing losses of the season. The Fire entered the match at Toyota Park with three straight shutouts and took 1-0 a lead into halftime. Drogba, who subbed on early in the second half, tied it before Piatti scored the game-winner in the 91st minute.

“Of course Drogba and Piatti I think they are really good players so we have to stop them and try to play a bit of counterattack and try to score an early goal,” Fire forward Luis Solignac said. “I think that’s the main key.”

Solignac and the Fire will try to score that early goal in Montreal on Saturday. The match will be televised on CSN+ with coverage beginning at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

Midfielder Matt Polster echoed some of Solignac’s words by emphasizing how important it was to limit how many touches Drogba and Piatti receive in space.

“They obviously have a good front line with Drogba and Piatti,” Polster said. “I think if we can break plays up quickly, which would probably be the midfielders’ job when we lose possession, we need to try to win it back quickly or maybe foul right away so they don’t get a quick rhythm or a quick counter on us. I think that’s been a little bit of a key this week.”

[SHOP: Grab your Fire home jersey here]

Former Fire midfielder Harry Shipp will be out with a groin injury. Andres Romero and Patrice Bernier are also listed as out with injuries. Defender Ambroise Oyongo will be out due to a yellow card accumulation suspension.

For the Fire, Eric Gehrig is out with a hamstring injury. Nick LaBrocca (quad) and Joao Meira (hamstring) are both listed as questionable.

Montreal (8-6-9, 33 points) is firmly in a playoff position in the Eastern Conference, but is looking to move up to a better spot. Meanwhile, the Fire (4-11-7, 19 points) are still in search of a road win this season and haven’t earned a point on the road in more than four months.

“As long as we have possibilities for playoffs, that’s always going to stay our main goal, especially now after the disappointment of the Open Cup,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We still have 12 games in the league that we have possibilities to get to the playoffs. We will do our best to do that.”

Chicago Fire at Montreal Impact

Where: Stade Saputo, Montreal

TV: CSN+ (channel finder)

When: 6:30 p.m. Saturday (coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live)

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?

portillos.jpg
@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.