By the numbers: Gauging Fire defender Adailton's effectiveness


By the numbers: Gauging Fire defender Adailton's effectiveness

When Adaílton made the switch from Brazilian Série A's Esporte Clube Bahia to the Fire last December, a dream came true. When the Salvador native was forced to come to grips with an injury midway through 2015 that derailed any hopes of getting a full season under his belt, he knew it would be difficult to accomplish his objective - to renew his contract automatically.

Adaílton, 32, last featured in a 2-2 draw with the New England Revolution on July 25, and first emerged with what was diagnosed as an adductor strain. He received an injection, and later underwent core muscle repair surgery on Sept. 1. Daneil Cyrus, Eric Gehrig, Ty Harden, Jeff Larentowicz and Matt Polster have all contributed at center back in his absence.

The Brazilian defender's future in MLS will be unresolved come the end of the month with regard to contract negotiations, but at the moment, he's relieved to be involved with the group again.    

"The progress is going very well," said Adaílton, who has engaged in warmups and light ball work as recently as Wednesday. "I think that I just need one more week to be ready. Unfortunately, the season is over, and it was something that I was counting on. [It's been] a long time [since] I trained with the guys, and I miss that so much. ... I'm just happy to be healthy again."

[RELATED: Fire notes: Bliss urging Men in Red to play spoiler to Red Bulls]

Through his first year with the Men in Red, Adaílton was able to forge a competent partnership with Larentowicz - both were paired 13 times together during the regular season - and briefly with Gehrig. The results? 

“When you look at statistics, and again, statistics don’t always tell the story, but they can give you a trend," interim coach Brian Bliss told reporters Tuesday via teleconference. "When he played, and whether he was paired with Jeff or whether he was paired with Eric Gehrig, our overall goals against and chances yielded was better. When he exited with his injury and surgery we definitely, on a statistical side, took a nosedive in terms of chances conceded and goals conceded. Can you pin it all on that, and him? Maybe, but he was, I would say relatively effective for us up until he got hurt."

Per, the numbers bear out Bliss' assertion, and a marked disparity in the Fire's defensive output with and without Adaílton's presence.

[MORE FIRE: Bliss talks 2016 roster outlook; CHIvNY start time pushed back]

WITH Adaílton

Games: 17

Record (W-L-D): 5-8-4 (19 points)

Average chances conceded: 119/17 games = 7 per game

Average goals conceded: 23/17 games = 1.35 goals/game  

WITHOUT Adaílton

Games: 16

Record (W-L-D): 3-11-2 (11 points)

Average chances conceded: 160/16 games = 10 per game  

Average goals conceded: 32/16 games = 2 goals/game

[NBC SHOP: Buy a Fire jersey here

With the Fire's regular season finale against Supporters' Shield contender New York Red Bulls (17-10-6, 57 points) on the horizon, Bliss said the Brazilian is not healthy and ready enough to play, however.

Asked if he envisions Adaílton, who made $244,500 in guaranteed compensation this year, according to the MLS Players' Union, as part of the team's plans come 2016, Bliss said it's possible. He has an option that could be exercised, but no concrete decisions have been made on that front. 

“Could we have him back at potentially a lower number? That’s a possibility, too," Bliss answered. "Could he part completely? That’s also a possibility. He’s made a contribution here. I think he’s been effective at times, but we’ll have to evaluate that once Nelson [Rodríguez] gets on board this week, and talk through it.”

Added Adaílton, who acquired his U.S. green card earlier this month: "My wife, too, she said one thing for me this weekend, that the only time she's going to cry is when we are going to leave USA. Nothing is lost. I still hope something's going to happen. I really want to stay, [but] it doesn't depend on me. ... I cannot do anything else, just pray and wait for [the coaches'] decision." 

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

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


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, 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.