Fire winger David Accam trying to 'be more of a creative player'

Fire winger David Accam trying to 'be more of a creative player'

David Accam has been most known for his speed since joining the Chicago Fire before the 2015 season.

The 26-year-old is one of the fastest players in Major League Soccer and has made some impressive highlights with that speed.

However, his game has come under fire for being somewhat one-dimensional. While the Ghanaian can still dribble by players, his touch hasn’t been as crisp this season and he has had trouble staying healthy since joining the Fire. In each of his first two seasons he missed 10 regular season games. A hip injury that Accam said is the same one he had last season has forced him to come off the bench twice in eight games in 2017.

Entering this season there was a question of how Accam would perform when the Fire’s attack wasn’t going to revolve around him. The addition of Nemanja Nikolic at forward, and a revamped midfield, meant the Fire would likely rely less on hitting long balls for Accam to use his speed to chase after.

Accam scored a goal in the season opener at Columbus that was a vintage Accam goal, using his quickness to create a chance. Since then he hasn’t been as dangerous in front of goal, both due to missed opportunities on his part and Nikolic (who has five goals) becoming the focal point in the penalty box.

“I think we have Niko and Michael de Leeuw who are really good finishers,” Accam said. “For me, at the moment it is good for me to just take it easy and try and create more chances for them.

“I want to score more goals, but I think I’m doing really well at trying to create more chances for them.”

Accam has a pair of assists this season and both have come from quality passes. He set up Bastian Schweinsteiger’s debut goal with a well-hit cross following a short corner and hit a perfectly weighted centering pass to Nikolic two weeks later.

Last Saturday at the New York Red Bulls, Accam was credited with five key passes, a statistic for passes that set up a scoring opportunity. That was more than any other player on the field and one fewer than the Red Bulls had as a team. On another day with better finishing, Accam could have had another assist or two.

After having two assists all season in 2015 and five last year, it appears Accam’s value as a creator has improved this year. Is this something he has put more emphasis on this season?

“I’m a forward player. I want to score goals, but I think at the moment the best thing is for me to just be more of a creative player and let the two players lead and just be behind them,” Accam said.

Accam said this isn’t a directive from the coaching staff.

“I think for me as a professional I know what is good for the team,” he said. “I’m trying to play more for the team so I just decided myself to do that more often.”

Coach Veljko Paunovic said this is nothing new from Accam’s game, but did say he has improved his work rate defensively, something that has been another knock on Accam's game in the past.

“He’s just alternating the roles that he can in a game,” Paunovic said. “Sometimes it’s assisting, sometimes it is him resolving the situation and scoring goals. He has that, he can do that. It’s helpful also for the team and the effort that he is doing because I think this year he is more engaged in a team’s efforts and organization defensively.”

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

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


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, 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.