Fire

USMNT wins to preserve bragging rights over Mexico

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USMNT wins to preserve bragging rights over Mexico

A pro-Mexico crowd inside the Alamodome was silenced after Stanford University's Jordan Morris and New England Revolution's Juan Agudelo scored in the 49th and 72nd minutes to lift the Americans to a 2-0 'Dos a Cero' victory over their noisy neighbors.

When the two teams last met a year ago, Toronto FC's Michael Bradley, Real Salt Lake's Kyle Beckerman and Nick Rimando and LA Galaxy's Omar Gonzalez were in the starting lineup on April 2, 2014 in the 2-2 draw in Glendale, Ariz. A 2-0 lead was cancelled out with two Mexico goals in the second half, a corresponding theme in this year's side, with the Americans routinely falling victim to conceding late goals.

Ahead of Wednesday night's clash, Jurgen Klinsmann's side has shipped eight goals in the 80th minute or later, but the U.S. kept their lead intact and were scarcely threatened.

Another installment of the historic rivalry between the bordering nations, equipped with political and economic overtones in years past, played out in San Antonio, albeit much of the narrative in the buildup to the clash chiefly surrounded the poor state of the pitch, and rightly so.

[RELATED: U.S. Soccer headlines ahead of match vs. Mexico]

Both sides were bogged down with a bobbly and unkempt surface, leaving Jurgen Klinsmann and Miguel Herrera's outfit with limited, half chances in the opening 45 minutes.   

Early, positive pressure from the Americans penned the Mexicans in their own half early on. With Beckerman at the base and Bradley at the point in Klinsmann's 4-4-2 diamond setup, the U.S. midfield remained plucky and resolute throughout, but struggled to create any clear-cut opportunities by the time the halftime whistle blew. 

As they emerged from the halftime break, the U.S. were aided with three second-half substitutions. The NASL's lone representative Miguel Ibarra was sent on for Joe Corona, while Greg Garza and Nick Rimando made way for Brek Shea and William Yarbrough.

The immediate changes gave a fresh look to a side that struggled to establish a rhythm in the first half, and the tide turned quickly.

[MORE: Klinsmann names 22-man roster for U.S. vs. Mexico]

In the 49th minute, Morris instinctually latched onto a fortuitous play with one touch and a nice finish all that was needed to slide the ball under the sliding Mexican 'keeper.

Less than a quarter of an hour after notching the eventual game-winner, Morris made way for Agudelo, making his first appearance for the U.S. since a five-minute cameo against Ukraine in March 2014.

The Revolution forward latched onto a superb, floated and trademark delivery from Bradley and with a sublime first touch, tucked away his shot to double the Americans' advantage and see the game through. 

With the victory, the U.S. improved to 15-11-8 against Mexico on home soil and 10-8-2 all-time in Texas venues, all while extending its unbeaten streak against El Tri to six games.

U.S. Starting XI (subs):

(4-4-2): Nick Rimando (William Yarbrough, 46'); DeAndre Yedlin, Omar Gonzalez, Ventura Alvarado, Greg Garza (Brek Shea, 46'); Kyle Beckerman (Perry Kitchen, 63'), Mix Diskerud (Brad Evans, 80'), Joe Corona (Miguel Ibarra, 46'), Michael Bradley (C); Gyasi Zardes, Jordan Morris (Juan Agudelo, 65')

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.