Fire

After front office said additions were needed, Fire trade for Tony Tchani

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USA TODAY

After front office said additions were needed, Fire trade for Tony Tchani

A day after general manager Nelson Rodriguez talked about how he thinks the team needed improvements in multiple areas, Rodriguez finalized a trade to bring in a new player.

The Fire traded for midfielder Tony Tchani, sending $150,000 of Targeted Allocation Money to Vancouver. The 28-year-old midfielder could take on the role Juninho filled for the Fire last season, which was to fill in for either Dax McCarty or Bastian Schweinsteiger at defensive midfield or on certain occasions play alongside the duo.

Tchani isn't the playmaker Rodriguez talked about the Fire needing, but his addition could free up Schweinsteiger to play higher up the field. Coach Veljko Paunovic had talked about Schweinsteiger being more involved in the Fire's attack when Schweinsteiger was first added last season, but he gradually shifted into a deeper role.

Tchani was born in Cameroon and has represented the Indomitable Lions on two occasions, including an African Cup of Nations qualifier in 2016, but he has U.S. citizenship so he will not count as an international on the roster.

The University of Virginia product has been in MLS since 2010 and has played for four teams (New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC, Columbus Crew and Vancouver), but is probably most known for his five-year stint with the Crew. Tchani has made 169 MLS starts in his career and was a regular starter on Columbus' MLS Cup finalist team in 2015. Last season Tchani made 26 starts for the Whitecaps.

The price wasn't expensive (David Accam went for more than 10 times as much allocation money and Dax McCarty went for nearly three times as much a year ago), but Tchani should play regular minutes for the Fire in 2018, even if not as a consistent starter like he has been for the past few years of his career.

Defensive midfield depth likely wasn't the biggest hole on the Fire's roster. Rookie Mo Adams has had an impressive preseason and could have been a competent backup, but by adding Tchani, the Fire won't have to rely on a rookie to play significant minutes. That said, Tchani does give the Fire plenty of MLS experience and gives Paunovic some added flexibility with how he chooses to use the midfield.

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.