Fire

Sports Ajenda: Ljungberg set for Fire debut

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Sports Ajenda: Ljungberg set for Fire debut

Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010
4:58 PM

By Jen Patterson
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Fire were back at it this week in preparation for their match vs. the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Park. On Wednesday, two-time Swedish World Cup star Freddie Ljungberg practiced with his new team for the first since being acquired in a trade with the Seattle Sounders, marking the first trade of a designated player in MLS history.

I think he brings quality, knowledge, and understanding of the game at the highest level. He shows that he sees the field extremely well. He can add a lot of possession for us, said Fire captain Brian McBride.

Although Ljungberg met up with his new teammates for the 3-2 victory in Los Angeles, he didnt come into the game till the 58th minute. Technical director Frank Klopas hinted that we will see more of Ljungberg this coming Sunday.

Last Sunday was a big match. In that match you always have to consider his fitness level and when was the last time he played. Obviously it takes some time for everyone to get to know their teammates and adjust to the style we try to play. Hopefully the preparation leading up to this match will help both him and Nery Castillo to get more accustomed to the team. We expect both of those players to be on the field, said Klopas.

Coach Carlos De Los Cobos expressed the importance of having both designated players, Castillo and Ljungberg, playing on the field together. De Los Cobos also hinted that Sean Johnson will make his return to the goal against the Red Bulls after his stellar performance in his MLS debut.

The men in red currently hold a 5-5-5 record with 20 points and will be looking to close in on the gap between them and the Red Bulls, who are sporting a 8-6-3 record with 27 points. Sundays tilt should draw a lot of fans with the debuts of Castillo and Ljungberg at Toyota Park.

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.