Fire

Yallop on Fire win over NYCFC: 'We were on our game tonight'

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Yallop on Fire win over NYCFC: 'We were on our game tonight'

In front of a standing-room only crowd of 19,124 at Toyota Park on Friday night, the Chicago Fire held on against a 10-man New York City FC side to win 1-0 and claim their third consecutive victory.

David Accam pulverized Jason Kreis' side all night and got his reward in the 20th minute, capitalizing on some lackadaisical play from goalkeeper Ryan Meara to give the Fire all they needed to climb to fourth place in the Eastern Conference standings.

"It feels great to be on the scoresheet," Accam said. "For me, I know I should've scored maybe two or three, but we got three points today so that's what we'll keep working on."

Behind another sharp-witted performance from Harry Shipp in the midfield, the Men in Red took Frank Yallop's message of getting on the front foot early to heart, with Accam spearheading the Fire attack. 

The Homegrown midfielder threaded the needle and ignited most of the running in the early stages, while interchanging with the Ghanaian international on the flanks.

"For me, I love just showing up anywhere on the field and I think he's the same," Shipp said. "He likes testing both outside backs and it forces the defense to always be on their toes because they never know when either of us is going pop up. It's something we'll hopefully continue to do." 

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A slick surface gave way to some misplaced passes, leading to lapses in possession for both sides, one of which nearly gifted Accam his first MLS goal. In the 20th minute, after dazzling and dangling his way past stranded NYCFC defenders, his shot from inside the box clanked off the post, the Fire's first clear-cut chance of the match.

Four minutes later, Accam used his speed to carve through the City defense and run clean through on goal, leaving midfielder Andrew Jacobson no option but to take the Designated Player down from behind, earning a straight red card in the process.

Despite being reduced to 10 men before the half hour mark, Kreis' outfit didn't go into the halftime break quietly. After skipping through the Fire midfield and evading a few challenges, Mix Diskerud unleashed a knuckling shot in the 41st minute that stung the fingertips of Sean Johnson.

The halftime talk from Frank Yallop paid dividends as the Men in Red came out flying at the start of the second half, with Shipp belting a shot off the post in the 51st minute. For Yallop, a monumental aspect of the Fire's second half success was getting Shaun Maloney to retreat from his position higher up the field to cope with NYCFC's midfield setup.

"New York played well till the end of the half," Yallop said in his post-match press conference. "I just said, 'We've got the extra guy, we can't be sitting back.'

"I wanted Shaun to drop underneath a little bit more to get an extra guy in midfield because they do overload the midfield. They play a diamond, they play tight. I think Shaun did a good job in the second half of dropping in and creating a lot of play in possession for us to break on them.

[RELATED: Fire host NYCFC on Friday, seeking third consecutive win]

"A halftime talk is always good when you're winning, but you're always looking for that extra goal to make a difference in the game to make it 2-0. Credit to New York, they kept going and didn't buckle under, but we were on our game tonight and that was pleasing to see."

With Guly do Prado playing his part despite a lack of playing time this season, an injection of pace and energy beckoned with the introduction of Quincy Amarikwa, who was released in behind the City defense, keeping the visitors on their toes.

"I thought he [do Prado] did well tonight," Yallop said. "He held the ball up and played a good role in our attack. Quincy had an ankle injury and missed 12 days of training.

"We're on top of that now where if guys don't train, they won't be able to last 90 minutes. Our fitness coach Adrian Lamb has done a fantastic job and it showed tonight."  

By the 83rd minute, Meara continued to make strides toward atoning for his costly mistake in setting up the lone goal of the match, parrying a diving header from Accam on the line and following up with a string of saves shortly after.

The Men in Red persisted in applying pressure as the rain poured down on the Toyota Park pitch in the waning moments, but Accam's 20th-minute tally proved to be the difference as Yallop's side ran out winners against the visiting expansion side.

The Fire return to action on Sunday, May 3 as they take on Sporting Kansas City at Sporting Park. Kickoff is slated for 4 p.m. 

Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs):

(4-4-1-1): Sean Johnson; Eric Gehrig, Jeff Larentowicz, Adailton, Joevin Jones; Harry Shipp, Matt Watson, Matt Polster, David Accam; Shaun Maloney; Guly do Prado (Quincy Amarikwa, 66')

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.