Fire

With win vs. Union, Fire would host U.S. Open Cup final

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With win vs. Union, Fire would host U.S. Open Cup final

A blind draw conducted by U.S. Soccer to determine hosting priority for the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final awarded the Fire with a chance to host this year's Open Cup final, pending next week's result against the Philadelphia Union.

Wednesday's proceedings at Soccer House in Chicago were emceed by U.S. men's national team Press Officer Michael Kammarman, along with U.S. Open Cup Commissioner Paul Marstaller and U.S. Soccer Development Academy Director Jared Micklos, who pulled the names of all four semifinalists from envelopes at random.

Should the Fire beat the Union at PPL Park next Wednesday, the four-time champions would host the winner of the second semifinal between Real Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City on Sept. 30 at Toyota Park. The kickoff time for the final will be determined once the semifinals play out.

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Advancing to the final would give head coach Frank Yallop and the Men in Red a sought-after trophy to play for and ample time to home in on climbing up the Eastern Conference table. The Fire rose to ninth place with Sunday's impressive performance against FC Dallas, earning a clean sheet on their way to a 2-0 victory over the then-Western Conference leader.

In the event that the Fire prevail over the Union, the final would cap another stretch of closely scheduled matches. The Men in Red welcome Orlando City SC to Toyota Park on Sept. 19 before traveling north of the border to face the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC on Sept. 23 and Sept. 26, respectively.

Check out the Open Cup semifinal schedule, scenarios for the final based on Wednesday's draw and video of the draw below.

[MORE: Fire, Guly do Prado mutually agree to part ways

Semifinals

Philadelphia Union vs. Chicago Fire - Aug. 12, 6:30 p.m. CT at PPL Park; Chester, Pa. (via live webstream at Chicago-Fire.com)

Sporting Kansas City vs. Real Salt LakeAug. 12, 7:30 p.m. CT at Sporting Park; Kansas City, Kan.

Final

Chicago Fire vs. Sporting Kansas City/Real Salt Lake winner - Sept. 30, Time TBD at Toyota Park; Bridgeview, Ill.

OR

Real Salt Lake vs. Philadelphia Union - Sept. 30, Time TBD at Rio Tinto Stadium; Sandy, Utah

OR

Philadelphia Union vs. Sporting Kansas City - Sept. 30, Time TBD at PPL Park

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?

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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.