Joevin Jones named Man of the Match in T&T win over Guatemala


Joevin Jones named Man of the Match in T&T win over Guatemala

Chicago Fire midfielder and defender Joevin Jones scored his first international goal for Trinidad and Tobago, capping off a 3-1 rout over Guatemala in their CONCACAF Gold Cup curtain raiser at Soldier Field and putting in a Man of the Match-worthy performance.

Three first-half goals from Sheldon Bateau, and MLSers Cordell Cato and Jones sealed all three points for Stephen Hart's side as the Soca Warriors' secured their foothold in Group C.

"In the first half, we controlled the game," Hart said after the match. "We pressed well, we covered the ball in good areas of the field, we got the goals and we kept possession well. We made Guatemala chase, which they weren't comfortable with.

"In the second half, we dropped too deep. We allowed Guatemala to play. They made us run and played a little more direct and forced us to defend around the penalty box. It caused us problems." 

Thursday's undercard - preceded by Mexico vs. Cuba - got off to a flying start, as Khaleem Hyland's corner-kick delivery met Bateau, who finished past Guatemala 'keeper Ricardo Jerez to give Trinidad a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.

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Three minutes later, San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Cato put his stamp on the match, capitalizing on a series of defensive miscues from Ivan Sopegno's outfit to extend Trinidad's advantage to two with less than a quarter of an hour played.

In the 25th minute, Jones was the beneficiary of some fine link-up play. The 23-year-old combined with Kenwyne Jones in Guatemala's half before slipping a ball behind the defense for Cato to run through on goal. Jones pounced on a loose ball from Cato's initial strike to convert the Soca Warriors' third goal.

"I thought he had a fantastic first half," Hart added. "He did exactly as we like him to do: to penetrate with his dribbling, to deliver good crosses and good passes into the penalty area. Offensively and defensively he did very well, but in the second half, his game went down. He was caught out of position on several occasions." 

Guatemala would eventually pull a goal back in the second half through captain Carlos Ruiz just past the hour mark, but it was not enough as a commanding 3-1 victory catapulted the Trinidadians to first place in Group C standings for the time being.

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Jones, making his 39th career national team appearance, is playing in his consecutive Gold Cup cameo after helping Hart's delegation advance to the quarterfinal of the 2013 edition, where they were edged by 10-time champions Mexico, 1-0.

"It was very important for us tonight," Jones said. "Every team wants to win their first game in the group stage. We're happy we got the three points tonight.

"Teams will be looking at us seriously now, keeping their eye on certain players, like me. It feels great getting Man of the Match. Obviously, I'm home (in Chicago), so I had to show what I could do. I just want to say thank you to Chicago Fire and my country." 

The Soca Warriors head to University of Phoenix Stadium next to face Cuba at 5:30 p.m. on July 12, before wrapping up the group stage against Mexico at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium on July 15 (7:30 p.m. CT). 

Trinidad and Tobago Starting XI (subs):

Jan-Michael Williams, Aubrey David, Sheldon Bateau, Daniel Cyrus, Radanfah Abu Bakr, Khaleem Hyland (Andre Boucaud, 77'), Joevin Jones (Lester Peltier, 80'), Cordell Cato, Kevan George, Kenwyne Jones (C), Atualla Guerra (Willis Plaza, 63').

Guatemala Starting XI (subs):

Ricardo Jerez, Moises Hernández, Enoc Vasquez, Wilson Lalín, Kendel Herrarte (Edgar Chinchilla, 70'), Stefano Cincotta (Carlos Mejia, 46'), Jorge Aparicio, Jonathan Márquez, Jose Contreras, Marco Pappa, Carlos Ruiz (C).

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.