Fire

New Fire defender Daneil Cyrus ready to make his mark

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New Fire defender Daneil Cyrus ready to make his mark

It’s been quite the whirlwind month for the Fire’s newest signing.

After enjoying a training stint with the club prior to this summer’s CONCACAF Gold Cup and having been closely monitored by head coach Frank Yallop and the technical staff throughout the tournament, Daneil Cyrus sealed a loan move from TT Pro League side W Connection to the Fire on the last day of the MLS secondary transfer window.

Since then, the Trinidad and Tobago international has spent the better part of the last four weeks in paperwork limbo. Despite acquiring his International Transfer Certificate on Aug. 12, the 24-year-old was forced to remain in his native country to await the receipt of his P1 visa. Upon receiving his passport, his entry into the Fire fold was halted yet again after being summoned by Stephen Hart to face Mexico in an international friendly on Sept 4. in Sandy, Utah, a 2-2 draw in which Cyrus featured 90 minutes.

“JJ [Joevin Jones] and the guys wanted to know if my loan deal was for next year,” said Cyrus, who communicated his frustration with the long-drawn-out process to reporters on Wednesday.

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You couldn’t blame his teammates' inquisition.

In the time between the announcement of Cyrus’ purchase on Aug. 6 and Monday – his first official day of training with the club – the Men in Red played seven games, bowing out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and taking just five points from 18 available. Although he’s only had a few days to get his bearings, the Trinidadian leaves no doubt as to which area of the field he would prefer to ply his trade in should his services be required heading into the final stretch of the season.   

“Anywhere the coach would want me to play, I will play, but I prefer playing center back,” Cyrus added, “because of my vision to see the field, but as well as right back. My strength is my speed, so I don’t mind playing right back as well.”

Whether Cyrus impresses enough to guarantee a spot in Yallop’s starting lineup for Friday night's clash with New York Red Bulls (6 p.m. CT; UniMás) remains to be seen. What is certain, however, is that at 6-foot-4, his stature alone will supply the back line with a different, and perhaps more imposing presence.

[RELATED: Fire's defensive issues compounded by loss to Impact]

“It’s nice to add a player,” Yallop said via Monday via teleconference. “It took a while with the permit and all the red tape and paperwork we had to get through and waiting. It’s been kind of frustrating, but he’s here now. He’s a young international player who’s done well for his country, and we’re trying to integrate him into MLS once we get him training with us and get him playing games. I expect him to see the field for sure. I don’t know exactly when. We just have to make sure he’s up to speed on everything, but there’s no time like now, because we need to get a result Friday.”

For now, Cyrus is hoping to take the experience gained from his brief spell with Sporting Kansas City on loan in the summer of 2011, and fine-tune his game to adapt to the physical demands of the league to make for a better adjustment in the Windy City. 

“Of course it’s a conversation that I had," Cyrus said when asked if he'd held talks with the coaching staff about extending his stay with the club beyond 2015. "The environment is nice, Chicago is a very lovely place, the team is a very big team in the league over the years,” he said. “I don’t mind making a permanent move.”

NOTES

- Gilberto left training early Wednesday morning with "a little bit of a hamstring," according to Yallop, which was confirmed as a strain by a club spokesperson. The Brazilian is listed as questionable for Friday.

- David Accam (Ghana), Joevin Jones (Trinidad and Tobago) and Collin Fernandez (United States; U-20s) all participated in full training. Matt Polster (U.S.; U-23s) will fly directly from England to Harrison, N.J. to meet up with the squad ahead of the trip to face the Red Bulls.  

- Konstantin Möllering is no longer training with the club.

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.