Fire

Stoppage time goal denies Fire a win in home draw with D.C.

Stoppage time goal denies Fire a win in home draw with D.C.

The Chicago Fire were so close to getting back on track with a home win, but were denied by a 92nd minute goal from D.C. United's Bobby Boswell.

After falling behind in the 19th minute, the Fire led for most of the match only to settle for a 2-2 draw when Boswell scored following a flurry of three shots in one sequence for D.C.

D.C. had 59 percent of the possession and 12 shots in the second half after the Fire had a slight edge in both categories in the first half. Fire coach Veljko Paunovic didn't think his team took too defensive of an approach with the lead.

“We never give excuses," Paunovic said. "There is no reason to fail even when you have the result like today. It’s tough for us, but small defeats lead to great victories. That’s how we look at this game. It’s something we learn from because that’s something that will make us better in the future if we have that approach."

D.C. piled the pressure on late and was able to find the equalizer. Luciano Acosta started the chaotic sequence by drilling a shot off the crossbar. Sean Johnson made an acrobatic diving save on Patrick Nyarko's rebound, but Boswell converted on the third attempt.

Failing to keep a lead late in a match at home is nothing new for the Fire. The New York Red Bulls scored in the 90th minute to force a 2-2 draw at Toyota Park on July 31. The last time D.C. played in Bridgeview on April 30, Nyarko scored in the second half of a 1-1 draw after the Fire took a lead into halftime. On the other side, it is the third straight match D.C. has scored in stoppage time to equalize.

“They can smell that they can score and they can feel that," Fire defender Johan Kappelhof said. "They had the ball all the time so we were defending and losing our energy without the ball. That’s a thing we have to do better next time even if you’re one goal ahead. You have to keep playing football. Now we are losing too much energy without the ball and you can see at the end that they had more energy to press us. That’s something we have to do better next time.”

Things got off to a rocky start for the Fire (6-13-9, 27 points) when D.C. (7-9-13, 34 points) was given an indirect free kick on the edge of the 6-yard box. Sean Johnson punched away a ball that was judged to be an intentional back pass. The ensuing indirect kick saw all of the Fire players standing on the goal line, but none could stop Rob Vincent’s hammered shot, which was roofed into the top netting.

The Fire had a quick answer three minutes later when Razvan Cocis headed in a corner kick. His flick header came from inside the near post. Goalkeeper Bill Hamid was able to get a touch on it, but couldn’t keep it out of the goal.

“There’s things we practice of course and it’s one of those," Cocis said of the goal. "It's my spot. It’s my best spot where I can be and it’s either a flick or a shot to score the goal. Today it was a goal."

Arturo Alvarez picked up his team-leading sixth assist by delivering the corner.

David Accam gave the Fire the lead just before the half hour mark with one of his familiar quick, weaving runs through the defense. Accam took on multiple defenders and drilled a low shot that gave the Fire the lead. It was Accam’s team-leading eighth goal of the season.

“I thought we were not as tuned in in the first half as they were,” D.C. United coach Ben Olsen said. “Accam’s special. He’s going to make his plays.”

David Arshakyan made his first start for the Fire. He was credited with four shots, one on target, before being subbed off in the 70th minute. Khaly Thiam replaced him to make his first appearance since being red carded in the match at D.C. on Aug. 27.

Michael de Leeuw, who had scored in each of the past three matches, was out with an ankle injury and John Goossens missed the game with a back injury.

The Fire finished the three-game homestand with a 1-1-1 record. Next up is a three-game road trip, beginning next Friday at New York City FC.

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?

portillos.jpg
@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.