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.

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.