The Chicago Fire have a few offseason acquisitions that have quickly made their presence felt on the team.
In addition to the standout midfield play of Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty, Nemanja Nikolic has four goals in six games. After scoring two goals against New England on Saturday, Nikolic was named MLS Player of the Week.
The Hungarian is the first Fire player to win the honor since Harry Shipp scored a hat trick in his rookie season in 2014.
"Of course I am happy," Nikolic said about the honor after training on Tuesday. "Thanks to my teammates who really helped me in this. I think that from my first day my teammates put a lot of effort to help me to adapt in the league in the city, in the team. Thanks to them now I can say that my first month here in MLS they vote me for player of the week."
Nikolic was joined in the MLS Team of the Week with fellow forward Luis Solignac, who assisted Schweinsteiger's game-winning goal and had a key pass in the build up to Nikolic's second goal.
"Yes, it's great that Niko is scoring goals, but it's also great the performance we got from Lucho, the performance we got from our defense, the performance from the youngsters coming from the bench and obviously the experienced guys," coach Veljko Paunovic said.
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 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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