Fire

Red Stars and U.S. defender Julie Johnston presents Chicago school with award

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Red Stars and U.S. defender Julie Johnston presents Chicago school with award

Chicago Red Stars and U.S. Women's National Team defender Julie Johnston stopped by a Chicago elementary school on Thursday and came bearing a gift.

Johnston went to Frazier International Magnet Elementary School in North Lawndale to present the school with a $5,000 check. The school won the Be A Learning Hero's 'Game Plan for Success' contest.

Johnston spoke at a school assembly in the afternoon about what it takes to be a professional athlete and having a game plan for success, which is one of the motto's of the contest.

“Frazier successfully addresses the lack of high-quality educational opportunities in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood and has become a beacon of excellence in the community. The students, teachers, and staff at Frazier International Magnet School are aiming high, listening to teachers, practicing their skills, and testing themselves,” said Game Plan for Success Project Director Jim Cowen. “We’re excited to celebrate the success at Frazier and share their story as an example to other schools in Illinois and across the country.”

Johnston and Red Stars teammates Alyssa Naeher and Christen Press were recently called up to the national team in advance of the two friendlies against Japan. The 2015 Women's World Cup final rematches will take place on June 2 at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce, Colo., and June 5 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

Chicago isn't hosting the 2026 World Cup, but fans should still be excited

After failing to qualify to play in this summer’s World Cup, the United States’ pain was alleviated on Wednesday morning after earning a joint bid to host the 2026 World Cup.

But why is this bittersweet for Chicagoans?

Even though the World Cup will be hosted by the U.S., Mexico and Canada in eight years, matches will not be played in Chicago.

The city chose not to be one of the potential hosts of the world’s largest sporting event, despite using Soldier Field as a venue for the 1994 World Cup.

One of the reasons could be the low seating capacity of Chicago’s historic stadium. Soldier Field would be the second smallest spot out of any World Cup host option, seating only 61,500. The massive competition also draws enormous crowds, possibly causing logistical concerns for a highly-populated place like Chicago.

Ten out of 17 different cities in the United States will be gifted the opportunity to host 2026 World Cup games. The list includes Cincinnati (Paul Brown Stadium), Kansas City (Arrowhead Stadium) and Nashville (Nissan Stadium), which are the closest domestic locations to Chicago.

The bright side is that fans from the Midwest won’t have to travel very far to see a match. For bigtime soccer fans in the Chicago area, having the chance to attend world-class matches in United States could be exciting enough.

Out of the 80 games taking place in 2026, 60 of them will be located in the United States.

Can this bid with Mexico and Canada at least help the relevancy of U.S. Soccer in the Chicago area?

The U.S. men’s national team missed this year’s World Cup at a very unideal time, just when it seemed like the sport of soccer was gaining more and more popularity in the United States.

Plus, the United States might not even get an automatic bid to play in their own World Cup as hosts.

But becoming a member of the first trio in FIFA history to host the World Cup, coupled with the expanded 48-team field in 2026, could help the United States retain the fans they have across the nation and around Chicago.

The World Cup might not be coming to the Windy City, but Chicagoans will still have something to be excited about in 2026 with games being played right around the corner. If the U.S. can qualify for the upcoming World Cups, having the tournament in North America will be much sweeter.

Until then, the 2018 World Cup kicks off this Thursday night in Russia.

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

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@JTHAZZARD

Ever wonder what a Portillo's soccer jersey would look like?

Portillo's has become a staple in the Chicagoland area due to its popular hot dogs, Italian beef sandwiches and now, its soccer jerseys.

OK, maybe one of these does not belong with the others. Regardless, Twitter user @JTHazzard created mock-up soccer jerseys mashing MLS teams and restaurants based in that team's city, and the Portillo's jersey is sweet. 

From the Portillo's logo taking center-stage to the picnic blanket pattern to the discrete Chicago Fire logo, this jersey is absolutely brilliant. The only change this writer would make is including the logo below instead.

Valspar is the current sponsor featured on the Fire's uniforms. If the team ever needs a new sponsor, though, Portillo's would be an excellent replacement.