Fire

Forward Luis Solignac re-signs with Fire

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USA TODAY

Forward Luis Solignac re-signs with Fire

Luis Solignac had his option declined by the Chicago Fire in November, but will still be back with the team in 2017.

The Argentine forward signed a new deal with the Fire on Thursday. He stays with the Fire at a contract number lower than his option was for and gives the Fire some extra depth at forward. The contract is guaranteed through 2018 and has a club option for 2019.

With the acquisition of Nemanja Nikolic earlier this offseason, the Fire now have better depth, certainly in terms of sheer numbers if not also quality, than in 2016. With Solignac, Nikolic, Michael de Leeuw and David Arshakyan, along with winger David Accam, coach Veljko Paunovic will have more options at forward than he did at any point in 2016.

The Fire traded for Luis Solignac on Aug. 3, 2016, sending allocation money to Colorado. That was the same day the Fire signed Arshakyan. By that time both Gilberto and Kennedy Igboananike were gone.

Solignac joins Johan Kappelhof, de Leeuw and Nikolic as players with guaranteed contracts for the 2018 season.

In a similar move last offseason the Fire declined Razvan Cocis' option and then re-signed him for 2016.

Solignac scored a pair of goals in 13 appearances, 12 of which were starts, after the Fire acquired him. With Nikolic and de Leeuw in the fold this season Solignac figures to play more of a bench role in 2017.

The 25-year-old scored five goals in 31 combined games, 24 starts, with the Fire and Colorado last season.

Solignac re-signing means the Fire have seven international players currently on the roster. As it stands, the Fire have one more international slot open, which could affect future moves as the Fire near the start of preseason training on January 23.

The Fire currently have 19 players under contract with two first round picks in the upcoming draft, which will take place Jan. 13. The draft combine starts Sunday.

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.