Fire

Luis Solignac scores goal of the year in Fire's Open Cup win

Luis Solignac scores goal of the year in Fire's Open Cup win

The Chicago Fire opened the U.S. Open Cup with a win on Wednesday, but one play from Luis Solignac stole the show.

Brandon Vincent crossed from the left and Solignac did a crazy karate kick backheel flick (or something like that) and it floated over Saint Louis FC goalkeeper Adam Grinwis. Just watch in the video above.

"I made the run and the ball came to my foot and I tried to do something and I scored, it was a beautiful goal," Solignac said after the match via Fire communications. "It's instinct but it's watching a lot of football, a lot of finishing, when you get the chance to do it and hopefully get it in, it's important."

That is probably the goal of the Fire's season. As much fun as the Open Cup can be, it's a shame that goal wasn't in an MLS match so a wider audience would see and appreciate it (and also better camera angles).

Solignac's goal came in the 27th minute and it was always going to be downhill from there. There was no more scoring and only a couple chances either way for both teams.

The Fire held on for the 1-0 win against their USL opponents on Wednesday in Fenton, Mo.

Christian Volesky rifled a shot off the bar in the 67th minute for St. Louis' best chance of the match. The hosts pressed for the equalizing goal, but Matt Lampson's only tough save was a diving effort to stop a header following a free kick in the 79th minute.

From a lineup perspective, coach Veljko Paunovic left four key players completely out of the team sheet. Bastian Schweinsteiger, David Accam, Nemanja Nikolic and Joao Meira all didn't travel to Missouri.

Daniel Johnson made his first professional start and Arturo Alvarez got the start on the right wing with Solignac playing as the forward with Nikolic resting. Dax McCarty got back on the field after being in camp with the U.S. national team for a pair of World Cup qualifiers. McCarty played 57 minutes before being replaced by Matt Polster.

Jonathan Campbell and Drew Conner got starts in the back line.

Teenage homegrown product Djordje Mihailovic came off the bench and was active in his half hour on the field. Another rookie, Matej Dekovic, made his Fire debut as the final sub of the match.

The Fire will learn their draw for the next round, set to take place on June 28, on Thursday morning. Three MLS teams, Columbus (which lost to Cincinnati), Orlando (which lost to Miami) and Real Salt Lake (which lost to Sacramento), were upset by minor league teams. After all fourth round matches completed on Wednesday, the Fire were group into the so-called south region with Cincinnati, Miami and Atlanta, which means they will play one of those three teams in the next round.

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.

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof involved in car crash on Thursday morning

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USA TODAY

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof involved in car crash on Thursday morning

Chicago Fire defender Johan Kappelhof was involved in a car accident on his way to practice Thursday morning that sent him to the hospital with minor injuries.

According to authorities and the Secretary of State’s Office, a box truck crashed into the Dutch player’s 2013 Volkswagen and another vehicle in the 5900 block of South Harlem. Kappelhof’s vehicle rolled over and two people fled from the scene.

The driver ran on foot and the passenger moved into the driver’s seat before driving the truck onto the Stevenson Expressway after the crash, officials said. After the damaged vehicle broke down, police say the same passenger tried to jump into the Illinois and Michigan Canal. Both were taken into custody.

Team officials said Kappelhof was treated and released from the hospital without indicators of a concussion. The 27-year-old was reportedly seen at Toyota Park after the crash and did not have any serious injuries. The other driver who was hit by the box truck was also treated, police said.

This season in league play with the Fire, Kappelhof has three assists in 16 games. The international product was a 2017 MLS All-Star and the Defensive Player of the Year for the Fire last season. He was signed in 2016 and has made one MLS Cup Playoffs appearance.