Fire

Johan Kappelhof's MLS All-Star selection not the biggest thing to happen to him in the past week

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USA TODAY

Johan Kappelhof's MLS All-Star selection not the biggest thing to happen to him in the past week

Johan Kappelhof is having an eventful week.

The Chicago Fire defender got named to the MLS All-Star Team on Tuesday, but that wasn’t even close to the most important thing to happen to him in the past few days. While the Fire were still on break, Kappelhof got married on Saturday back home in Amsterdam.

“It was a special week for me,” Kappelhof said. “It was a stressful week, but it was a beautiful day. I’m happy that I’m a married man now and I’m back to play again.”

Kappelhof got 10 days off in total, taking advantage of a league-wide break for the group stage of the Gold Cup. With the hectic week behind him, Kappelhof is happy to return to normalcy, although he did joke that he now has to figure out if he should take his ring off or cover it when he plays.

“It feels good to be back, to do what I love to do, to play soccer,” Kappelhof said. “I’m used to that. I’m not used to getting married so this was a great day for me, but I’m happy to be back on the training pitch.”

Not long after returning to Chicago, Kappelhof got more good news. When he arrived to training Tuesday morning, Kappelhof received word that he was picked for the All-Star Game along with teammate Dax McCarty.

“It was a surprise for me,” Kappelhof said. “I’m very excited and very thankful for the coaching staff who elected me for the game. I will give everything to give that back to them.”

Fire coach Veljko Paunovic is coaching the team and made 11 selections in addition to the Fan XI vote. Nemanja Nikolic and Bastian Schweinsteiger were included on the Fan XI. Kappelhof and McCarty joined as selections by Paunovic to give the Fire four picks, more than any other team.

“Dax and Johan will help us balance the team, be more competitive,” Paunovic said. “It’s obviously a great achievement for two of them, very happy for them, very happy also for our club where we are now. I think that this is the first time since a long time ago that we have four All-Star players, which is also another achievement.”

McCarty is the only Fire All-Star who has been selected before. He was also an All-Star in 2015.

David Accam was not included on the roster despite being top five in both goals scored and assists, the only player in the league who can make that claim. The full roster is available here.

The All-Star Game will take place at Soldier Field in Chicago. The MLS All-Stars will play Real Madrid on Aug. 2.

Chicago Fire's 'MLS is Back' opening match postponed due to COVID-19

Chicago Fire's 'MLS is Back' opening match postponed due to COVID-19

MLS announced on Tuesday that the Chicago Fire’s first game back after the season was suspended due to COVID-19 has been postponed.

The Fire were supposed to play Nashville SC on Wednesday in their opening Group A match of the MLS is Back tournament. But since arriving in Orlando for the tournament, five Nashville players tested positive for COVID-19 and four others received inclusive results, requiring more testing. As a result, MLS is now evaluating Nashville’s participation in the tournament.

The Fire will now return to play on July 14 against Inter Miami CF.

The Fire also announced that the Drive-In Matchday event that was scheduled for Wednesday’s game has been rescheduled for their July 19 game against New York City FC. Fans who registered for that event will have the opportunity to sign-up again for the new date.

This is the second Chicago pro sports match altered as leagues try to return to play. The Chicago Red Stars also had a game cancelled in late June due to Orlando Pride players testing positive for COVID-19.

As MLB, the NHL and the NBA gear up to return it remains to be seen how they will react in a similar situation.

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MLS announces return to play plan for tournament at Disney World

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USA Today

MLS announces return to play plan for tournament at Disney World

MLS soccer is coming back this summer.

The league announced a plan to have all 26 MLS clubs resume play on July 8 with a league-wide “MLS is Back Tournament.”

The games will be played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Disney World, without fans in the stands.

Here’s how it will work:

Clubs can arrive in Orlando to begin training on June 24. Then a group stage will begin July 8 followed by a knockout stage, starting July 25.

There will be six groups, three for each the Western and Eastern Conferences. The group stage draw will occur on June 11 at 2:30 p.m. CT.

Each team will play three group stage matches, and the results from those games will count in the 2020 MLS regular season standings.

Then the top two teams from each group, plus the four best third-place finishers will advance to the knockout stage. That stage starts with a round-of-16, followed by quarterfinals, semifinals and then the championship game. The championship game will be played on August 11.

In case of a tie at the end of regulation in the knockout stage, games will proceed directly to a penalty kick shootout.

The winner of the tournament will earn a berth in the 2021 Concacaf Champions League.

At the conclusion of the tournament, MLS will resume its regular season followed by the MLS Cup Playoffs and MLS Cup.

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