Fire

Video: Juninho hoping to play his 'best soccer again' with Fire

Video: Juninho hoping to play his 'best soccer again' with Fire

Three MLS Cup titles, two Supporters' Shields, two All-Star Game appearances.

That's the MLS experience that Juninho brings to the Chicago Fire. The Brazilian midfielder was one of the key acquisitions of the Fire's offseason, arriving on loan from Mexican club Tijuana.

On the first day of the Fire's preseason Juninho talked about arriving with the Fire, what it was like playing for Bruce Arena, his coach with the LA Galaxy who is now leading the national team for a second time, and what he expects from the 2017 season.

Juninho was with the Galaxy from 2010-2015 and racked up both team and individual honors. In his lone year in Liga MX with Tijuana, Juninho was a starter at first, but struggled to regain his spot after suffering an injury.

"A lot of people ask me about the Mexican league," Juninho said. "It's different. It's more technical. The league has been for a long time and MLS is still growing, and fast. It was a great experience over there, but now I have to change my mind and have to think about MLS."

He said Fire coach Veljko Paunovic contacted him about joining the Fire and the timing was right for a move.

"I was grateful and I was excited to be a part of the team," Juninho said. "The invitation has come at the right time. I was not playing in Mexico that much. I'm coming here to play my best soccer again."

Juninho will likely play next to another notable offseason acquisition in Dax McCarty. The two went against each other for years in MLS and Juninho called McCarty "a great player."

Both players will be an injection of league experience from players who have succeeded in the league. This role is something the 28-year-old Brazilian said he is hoping will help the Fire this season.

"I played in this league and I won championships and this can count," Juninho said. "Moments like this where I'm one of the veterans on the team, I hope I can help the young players on my team and take the lead and show them the way to go. I hope we can do this together and get our goals."

Watch the video above to see the full interview with Juninho.

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.

Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

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USA TODAY

Fire sign veteran MLS forward Alan Gordon

As far as notorious players in MLS with a history of scoring big goals, Alan Gordon is one of the first names on that list.

The Fire signed the 36-year-old forward on Friday, continuing to add depth to a roster that appeared paper thin throughout the preseason. Gordon, who had been on trial with the Fire for part of the preseason and even after the season opener, signed a one-year deal.

Gordon adds plenty of experience from being in the league since 2004 and having scored 55 goals with five different teams. For the past few years he has been used primarily as a substitute, but has still maintained his reputation for scoring goals late in games.

At 6-foot-3 he brings plenty of size and strength to the team and is one of the best players on headers in the league. Last season the Fire failed to score directly off a set piece, which was both due to consistently poor service from corner kicks and a lack of players adept at finishing them off. Gordon should give the Fire a late-game option in that area.

Elliot Collier had impressed the Fire enough to earn a contract as a third-round pick and an international player and even came off the bench in the opening loss to Sporting Kansas City, but it appears the team wanted more experience at forward with Gordon.