Fire

U.S. beats Paraguay, but won't return to Soldier Field

U.S. beats Paraguay, but won't return to Soldier Field

Despite losing its first group match 2-0 to Colombia, the United States was able to get out of its group at the Copa America Centenario.

The U.S. beat Paraguay 1-0 in Philadelphia on Saturday night on a Clint Dempsey goal in the first half. The Americans survived playing a man down for more than 40 minutes when DeAndre Yedlin got two yellow cards in the span of a minute.

A draw against Paraguay would have been enough for the U.S. to advance out of its group, but the win meant there was a chance to win Group A. That chance involved Costa Rica beating Colombia.

It was a long shot because Colombia had won both of its previous group matches and is one of the highest ranked teams in the world while Costa Rica was eliminated before it took the field. However, the Colombians rested some key players and Costa Rica took advantage with a 3-2 win at NRG Stadium in Houston.

The U.S. won Group A based on goal differential. The 4-0 win against Costa Rica in Chicago played a large part in that goal differential.

So now the Americans head to Seattle for a quarterfinal on Thursday against the runner-up of Group B, which could be any of Ecuador, Peru or Brazil. Those two South American coutries face off Sunday to decide the group winner.

Another consequence of Saturday's results is that the U.S. can't play in the semifinal taking place at Soldier Field on June 22. If the Americans were the second place team in Group A, they would have been one win away from a return to Chicago. If the current group leaders hold and advance that match could be Brazil-Mexico.

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.