Bears

Fire look to put a stop to Sporting Kansas City

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Fire look to put a stop to Sporting Kansas City

Saturday, March 26, 2011
CSNChicago.comAssociated Press

For several years, trips to Chicago often meant certain doom for Sporting Kansas City. That isnt the case anymore.

Kansas City seeks its third victory in four games at Toyota Park on Saturday in the Fires home opener.

Playing its first game with a new name after being known for more than a decade as the Kansas City Wizards, Sporting Kansas City opened this season with a 3-2 win over Chivas USA last Saturday.

The Sporting KC era got off to an encouraging start as C.J. Sapong scored just two minutes into the game, recording the fastest goal for a rookie in MLS history.

It was definitely surreal scoring, said the former James Madison star. It shows for me all the hard work has paid off, but at the same time its a motivating tool to keep it up.

Omar Bravo also enjoyed a memorable debut with Kansas City. The striker, signed in February after an illustrious tenure with Chivas Guadalajara, scored the teams other two goals.

I think there were so many things that (Bravo) wanted to prove, Sporting KC coach Peter Vermes said. Once he calmed down, thats when he started playing his game. And thats why hes here, because of the way he played.

Kansas City now looks to open 2-0 for the third time in four seasons, and win back-to-back games in Chicago for the first time in franchise history.

The Fire went 13-1-1 in their first 15 home meetings between these clubs, but Kansas City has recently found some success at Toyota Park, going 2-0-1 there since 2008.

Kansas City won 2-0 in Chicago on Oct. 12 behind scores from captain Davy Arnaud and Teal Bunbury. The teams played to a 2-all tie in Kansas City on May 15 with Kei Kamara scoring both goals for the Wizards.

The Fire opened this season with a 1-1 tie against FC Dallas last Saturday.

Chicagos Diego Chaves, making his MLS debut, scored in the 17th minute to put the Fire up 1-0 but FC Dallas answered with a goal one minute later. Chicago had several chances late after Dallas defender Brek Shea was ejected in the 55th minute but couldnt take advantage.

I think it is a little bit disappointing that we were up a man for about 30 minutes and didnt win but we need to keep it in perspective, captain Logan Pause told MLS official website. Coming here and getting a point is fantastic. The guys showed a level of commitment that Im proud of and excited to be a part of. I think were on the right track.

The Fire, who will visit Kansas City on June 9 for the opening of the new Livestrong Sporting Park, lost to San Jose in their first game at Toyota Park last season, snapping a three-game winning streak in home openers.

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

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USA Today Sports Images

Bears still see Dion Sims as a valuable piece to their offensive puzzle

Dion Sims is still here, which is the outcome he expected but perhaps wasn’t a slam dunk — at least to those outside the walls at Halas Hall. 

The Bears could’ve cut ties with Sims prior to March 16 and saved $5.666 million against the cap, quite a figure for a guy coming off a disappointing 2017 season (15 catches, 180 yards, one touchdown). But the Bears are sticking with Sims, even after splashing eight figures to land Trey Burton in free agency earlier this year. 

“In my mind, I thought I was coming back,” Sims said. “I signed to be here three years and that’s what I expect. But I understand how things go and my job is come out here and work hard every day and play with a chip on my shoulder to prove myself and just be a team guy.”

The Bears signed Sims to that three-year, $18 million contract 14 months ago viewing him as a rock-solid blocking tight end with some receiving upside. The receiving upside never materialized, and his blocking was uneven at times as the Bears’ offense slogged through a bleak 11-loss season. 

“The situation we were in, we weren’t — we could’ve done a better job of being successful,” Sims said. “Things didn’t go how we thought it would. We just had to pretty much try to figure out how to come together and build momentum into coming into this year. I just think there were a lot of things we could have done, but because of the circumstances we were limited a little bit. 

“… It was a lot of things going on. Guys hurt, situations — it was tough for us. We couldn’t figure it out, along with losing, that was a big part of it too.”

Sims will be given a fresh start in 2018, even as Adam Shaheen will be expected to compete to cut into Sims’ playing time at the “Y” tight end position this year. The other side of that thought: Shaheen won’t necessarily slide into being the Bears’ primary in-line tight end this year. 

Sims averaged 23 receptions, 222 yards and two touchdowns from 2014-2016; that might be a good starting point for his 2018 numbers, even if it would represent an improvement from 2017. More important, perhaps, is what Sims does as a run blocker — and that was the first thing Nagy mentioned when talking about how Sims fits into his offense. 

“The nice thing with Dion is that he’s a guy that’s proven to be a solid blocker,” Nagy said. “He can be in there and be your Y-tight end, but yet he still has really good hands. He can make plays on intermediate routes. He’s not going to be anybody that’s a downfield threat — I think he knows that, we all know that — but he’s a valuable piece of this puzzle.”

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

89 Days to Kickoff: St. Charles East

NBCSportsChicago.com preps reporter "Edgy" Tim O’Halloran spotlights 100 high school football teams in 100 days. The first 75 team profiles will focus on teams making strides across Chicagoland and elsewhere in the state. Starting July 30, we’ll unveil the @NBCSPrepsTop 25 Power Rankings, leading up to kickoff on Friday, Aug. 24.

School: St. Charles East

Head coach: Bryce Farquhar

How they fared in 2017: 8-3 (4-2 Upstate 8 River Conference), St. Charles East made the 2017 IHSA state Class 8A playoff field. The Saints defeated Oswego East then lost to eventual 8A state champion Lincoln-Way East in second round action.

2018 Regular Season Schedule:

Aug. 24 @ Rock Island

Aug. 31 @ Carmel

Sept. 7 vs Glenbard North

Sept. 14 @ Wheaton South

Sept. 21 vs Geneva

Sept. 28 @ St. Charles North

Oct. 5 vs Batavia

Oct. 12 @ Wheaton North

Oct. 19 vs Lake Park

[MORE: 90 Days to Kickoff - Warren]

Biggest storyline: The Saints have had impressive campaigns the last two seasons. Can they continue to prosper in the newly-formed DuKane Conference?

Names to watch this season: RB/LB Justin Jett and OL Dylan Barrett

Biggest holes to fill: The Saints will look to reload at a few key spots including at quarterback, as Clayton Isbell has moved on to Illinois State. Replacing RB/LB Nick Garlisch (South Dakota St.) will be key as well.

EDGY's Early Take: Coach Bryce Farquhar's Saints have produced playoff seasons in back-to-back years. Now, their regular season ramps up a bit with the newly-formed DuKane Conference. The new league features some former Upstate Eight conference foes in St. Charles North, Batavia and Geneva, plus former DuPage Valley members Wheaton Warrenville South, Wheaton North, Glenbard North and Lake Park. Look for the Saints to rely on some experience up front. Three starters are back on the offensive line, including junior OG Dylan Barrett. He has already added several FBS level scholarship offers.