Yallop: 'Naive' Fire lament second half performance vs. D.C.


Yallop: 'Naive' Fire lament second half performance vs. D.C.

In his weekly conference call Monday afternoon, head coach Frank Yallop forewarned his side of D.C. United’s knack for churning out results while occasionally not performing at their best. On Wednesday, Ben Olsen’s bruised and battered group proved precisely that, and why they deserve to sit atop the Eastern Conference.

After a 3-0 thumping of the Montreal Impact, the Chicago Fire reverted to losing ways with a 3-1 defeat to D.C. United at RFK Stadium, their first loss since stumbling to Real Salt Lake on May 9 and first against an in-conference opponent.

"For whatever reason we stopped playing in a certain part in the game and started trying to soak up pressure when we can’t do that," Yallop said in his post-match press conference. "We were naïve a little bit tonight I think in the big picture and D.C. United kept going and were stronger than us.

"I haven’t seen the goals, so I have to look at them again on tape, but it’s never good to concede three goals at home or away but especially when you’re away and one goal up."

A hushed beginning to the match saw the Fire (4-6-2, 14 points) silence the home crowd in the 28th minute as Designated Player David Accam found the net for the third time in 2015. But a second-half brace from Jairo Arrieta and an insurance tally from Conor Doyle in the 75th minute secured all three points for the unflustered hosts, who extended their home unbeaten streak to 20 games, while the Men in Red slipped to seventh place in the standings.

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The Ghanaian found it difficult to establish a rhythm in the early going, but left back Joevin Jones’ darting run to elude multiple D.C. defenders in the fifth minute provided Frank Yallop’s side with the impetus to impose a similar strategy deployed against the Impact at Toyota Park five days earlier.

It was D.C., though, who would generate the first meaningful attack of the match, as Nick DeLeon was released into space behind the Fire back four, firing his cross-shot across Jon Busch - making his third consecutive start - only for the ‘keeper to palm comfortably wide.

Accam nearly produced the breakthrough in the 20th minute following Matt Polster’s break-up play in the midfield. The rookie collected the ball and darted toward D.C.’s defense to find the winger, but his sliding effort trickled inches wide of former Fire ‘keeper Andrew Dykstra’s goal.

In the 26th minute, D.C. defender Steven Birnbaum’s clumsy hand ball was whistled for a penalty kick, but Dykstra kept out skipper Jeff Larentowicz’s effort, before Accam struck a minute later.

Harry Shipp’s early recognition to find a sprinting Quincy Amarikwa - one of a bevy of changes to the Fire lineup - down the left flank resulted in a surprise 1-0 advantage to the visitors, as Accam latched onto a one-time, low driven cross from Amarikwa to bury past Dykstra and muzzle the 11,218 onlookers.

[MORE: Igboananike named to Team of the Week; Shipp up for Goal of the Week]

The second half saw a determined D.C. outfit take the game to the Men in Red, as substitute Fabian Espindola profoundly put his stamp on the match. After withstanding a quarter of an hour’s worth of pressure, Olsen’s delegation eventually breached an absorbent Fire defense.

Espindola’s corner kick delivery in the 61st minute was met by Arrieta, who lost his marks and headed past Busch to level the match at one apiece. Arrieta would inflict further damage eight minutes later, pouncing onto a loose ball in the box to fire past a stranded Busch once more.

Despite sending on the rested Razvan Cocis and Kennedy Igboananike in hopes of salvaging a third straight 2-2 draw on their travels, it was D.C. who struck again, this time via Conor Doyle, who provided the insurance goal with a tap-in in the 75th minute.

"For us, conceding three goals in any match is not good so we’ve got to look at it again, dig deep and get ready for Saturday’s game because it’s a big game for us," Yallop added.

For D.C., the victory cemented the team’s position at the summit of the Eastern Conference, while the loss marks the 15th game in which the Fire have failed to win on the road.

Next up, the Men in Red return for another quick turnaround with a home bout against expansion side Orlando City SC on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. on CSN.

Chicago Fire Starting XI (subs)

(4-4-1-1): Jon Busch; Lovel Palmer, Jeff Larentowicz (C), Eric Gehrig, Joevin Jones; Michael Stephens (Razvan Cocis, 62'), Matt Polster, Matt Watson (Kennedy Igboananike, 70'), David Accam (Guly do Prado, 77'); Harry Shipp; Quincy Amarikwa.

Manchester City brings Premier League trophy to Chicago ahead of preseason game in Soldier Field

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


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, 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.