Fire

Fire's David Accam among MLS' All-Star snubs

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USA TODAY

Fire's David Accam among MLS' All-Star snubs

All-Star snubs are a tradition in American sports and Major League Soccer is no exception.

Even with four Chicago Fire players on the MLS All-Star Game roster, more than any other team, the Fire have one of the most notable snubs from the roster.

David Accam’s 10 goals and seven assists puts him among the league’s best in both categories. He is the only player to rank in the top five of both stats.

Accam not making the MLS All-Star roster is definitely a snub when considering Giovani dos Santos was included with six goals and an assist. That’s decent production, but doesn’t compare to Accam’s as a similar position.

“Decisions that we had to make on the roster wasn’t easy,” Fire and All-Star coach Veljko Paunovic said. “Obviously there are a lot of players around the league that deserve to be there and did very well, but there are also limitations and taking everything in consideration.”

Accam being one of the first names to make any list of All-Star snubs puts Paunovic in an awkward position. In the drama-filled world of social media, Accam retweeted mentions of his snub from former teammate Mike Magee and current LA Galaxy winger Ema Boateng.


Last week, before selections were made, Accam didn’t make it sound like getting into the All-Star Game was particularly important to him. He said it would be “a bonus,” but “nothing changes” if not. Now he’s retweeting players saying he was snubbed from the team.

Paunovic was asked about Accam’s exclusion on Tuesday.

“It’s not easy when you have to pick guys from your team and some guys that you also think they deserve to be there you can’t just because of the limitations,” he said. “That’s how it is. I think that’s important and everyone understands and that being an all-star, it’s not only being an all-star player for one game. You have to understand that all-star should be the habit. The stars, the great players always perform well. They always have the good approach and they do their best in every single game and that’s actually the mindset that everyone has to have even when there is no All-Star Game involved.”

Accam wasn’t the only one in MLS to take to social media to vent his frustration with not being included.


Kempin’s support for his former Sporting Kansas City teammate was retweeted by Fire goalkeeper Matt Lampson.

Paunovic, who picked 11 of the remaining 13 spots after the Fan XI vote gave out the first roster spots earlier this month, admitted the complications of picking players based on a number of factors.

“It’s based on what we see in every game, every week, what we also see in the games we play in those teams that we picked the players,” Paunovic said. “Also we consider players who are playing on the same team who are the tandems in different teams and that’s also important so when you’re bringing the guys who never played together, actually it’s very important to see how many tandems or players that they played on different teams together maybe so they know each other. It’s important. You have only three days so you have to consider everything.”

Inevitably there will be players who get hurt or drop out for other reasons, so there might still be room for Accam, or the other notable snubs, to join the team before the MLS All-Star play Real Madrid Aug. 2 at Soldier Field.

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.