Fire

Maloney, Cocis on the scoresheet as Fire, Revs share the spoils

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Maloney, Cocis on the scoresheet as Fire, Revs share the spoils

Despite rallying from a 1-0 deficit in the first half, the Fire were unable to complete their second-half comeback against the Revolution, drawing, 2-2, Saturday night. 

A 28th-minute strike from Lee Nguyen was canceled out by Shaun Maloney's penalty kick on the stroke of halftime. Razvan Cocis' tap-in 15 minutes from time was not enough, however, as Kelyn Rowe responded in the 77th minute to help the Revolution emerge with a valuable road point much to the dismay of the 14,159 on hand at Toyota Park.  

"Gutted for the guys that, as a group, we got back into the game and then we went on to score what I thought was going to be the winning goal," a disappointed Frank Yallop told reporters after the match. "The last goal is not good. I don't know what to say after that, it just cost us the game."

All three of the Fire's designated players -- David Accam, Kennedy Igboananike and Maloney -- made the cut in Yallop's Starting XI, appearing together from the get-go for the first time since May 30 and only the fourth time all year. Accam and Igboananike replaced Patrick Nyarko and the suspended Jason Johnson, respectively, while Sean Johnson reclaimed his spot in goal to round out the three changes from the team that downed Orlando City SC in the U.S. Open Cup quarterfinals on Wednesday.

Both sides enjoyed their share of possession in the early stages, with the Revolution dictating most of the run of play. Harry Shipp's corner-kick delivery in the 23rd minute was met by Cocis, who, with the goal at his mercy, fluffed his lines from six yards out and wasted a golden opportunity to put the hosts in front.

[RELATED: Fire host Revolution, boosted by return of Accam, Maloney]

In a tight affair with chances few and far between, the most dangerous opening fell to the visitors, resulting in the first goal. Scott Caldwell found room to work on the left flank and whipped a ball into the six-yard box, only to be cleared as far as Nguyen, who slammed it home in the 28th minute.

Just as it appeared as though the Revolution would keep their 1-0 advantage, the Fire answered with a goal of their own. Maloney's corner kick in the 43rd minute spilled out to Accam, who was brought down by New England defender Jose Goncalves inside the area, leaving referee Ricardo Salazar no choice but to award a penalty kick. Maloney stepped up, kept his nerve and buried his effort past a diving Brad Knighton on the stroke of halftime to give the Men in Red some much-needed momentum heading into the second 45. 

Following the halftime interval, a tame opening to the second stanza was nearly turned on its head. Just past the hour mark, Cocis sidestepped a few Revolution defenders on his way toward unleashing a curling strike from outside the 18 that sailed just wide of Knighton's left post.

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With a quarter of an hour left to play, the Men in Red found their second goal, courtesy of Cocis. After Joevin Jones' initial attempt bounced to Matt Watson, the Englishman's side volley was parried by Knighton into the path of the Romanian at the back post, who dispatched from a couple yards out to net his first goal since the 2-2 draw at New York City FC on May 15.

Two minutes later, the Fire's lead was nullified. A low, bending ball from Revolution defender Chris Tierney wasn't dealt with by the back line, and made its way to Rowe to slot past a powerless Johnson at the back post, helping Jay Heaps' side steal a share of the points.

"We've got to let this go and get three points next Sunday," Yallop added. "It was right there for us and it was just disappointing that we didn't get three points. We dropped two points tonight."

Following a taxing two weeks that saw the Fire contest five matches, the Men in Red have the next eight days to prepare for next Sunday's cross-conference clash against FC Dallas. 

Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs)

(4-4-1-1): Sean Johnson; Matt Polster, Eric Gehrig, Adaílton, Joevin Jones; David Accam, Matt Watson, Razvan Cocis (C), Harry Shipp (Patrick Nyarko, 64'); Shaun Maloney (Michael Stephens, 80'); Kennedy Igboananike.

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.