Fire

Harry Shipp's goal, assist helps Fire to win over Revolution

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Harry Shipp's goal, assist helps Fire to win over Revolution

Last week's 3-2 setback against Toronto FC saw a prevailing narrative come back to haunt the Chicago Fire. After taking two leads, both were wiped out and by the end of the night, the defeat officially eliminated the team from playoff contention.

On Saturday night, the self-pride that interim head coach Brian Bliss called for in the days building up to the Fire's penultimate home match of the regular season against the New England Revolution was on full display.

After conceding Juan Agudelo's headed goal against the run of play in the 31st minute, the Fire turned on in the second half. David Accam's near-post finish - his team-leading 10th of 2015 - followed by tallies from Harry Shipp and Gilberto helped the Fire (8-18-6, 30 points) snap a five-match losing streak in a 3-1 victory over the Revolution (13-11-8, 47 points) in front of an announced crowd of 16,694 at Toyota Park.   

Bliss trotted out three changes from the side that fell in Toronto last time out. Joevin Jones made his return to the starting lineup at left back for Patrick Doody. Razvan Cocis partnered Michael Stephens in central midfield and Shipp deputized for Mike Magee underneath Gilberto.

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The hosts struggled to find their feet in the early going, allowing New England midfielders Jermaine Jones and Kelyn Rowe to unleash the opening shots toward Jon Busch's net.

With more and more possession garnered in the final third, the Fire were able to carve out the game's first notable opportunity via Accam in the 21st minute. The Ghanaian collected the ball on the edge of the area and tantalized Andrew Farrell in a one-versus-one scenario before sending a curling right-footed effort at New England 'keeper Bobby Shuttleworth, who expertly palmed aside.

A minute shy of the half-hour mark, the Fire saw a flurry of chances go awry. First, Patrick Nyarko dished to Gilberto, whose volley was stopped by Shuttleworth. The Brazilian hit the post on the ensuing corner kick, and, seconds later, was found by Accam at the back post but couldn't direct a shot on target.

Seconds later, the visitors charged toward the other end, exposed the Fire back four and broke the deadlock. Lovel Palmer failed to close down Chris Tierney's cross, which found Agudelo, who powerfully headed past a stranded Busch from close range.    

[RELATED: Doody hopes to take experience gained from USL to MLS, Fire]

With 58 percent of possession yet little to show for in the opening 45, the Fire emerged from the halftime interval with an incentive to level the score, and they did just that.

Accam drove through the center of midfield and into the box and found an opening, muscling free of Jose Goncalves and squeezing a low shot inside the near post to level the score in the 51st minute. Eight minutes later, Shipp capitalized on a slip by Farrell and ran through on goal. The Homegrown midfielder kept his cool and slotted a shot through the legs of Shuttleworth for a 2-1 Fire lead.

As the second half wore on, Busch was called upon to make a number of saves to keep the Men in Red's advantage in check, most notably denying Agudelo and Rowe on the doorstep in the 66th minute.

Five minutes from time, second-half substitute Matt Watson beat Lee Nguyen to the endline and connected with Gilberto at the corner of the six-yard box. The Brazilian spun, turned and finished past Shuttleworth to seal all three points for the Fire.   

Next up for the Fire is a trip to face D.C. United at RFK Stadium on Oct. 18.  

Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs)

(4-4-1-1) - Jon Busch; Lovel Palmer, Jeff Larentowicz (C), Daneil Cyrus, Joevin Jones; Patrick Nyarko, Michael Stephens, Razvan Cocis (Matt Watson, 80'), David Accam; Harry Shipp (Patrick Doody, 72'); Gilberto

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.