Fire

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty providing big personalities for Fire

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USA TODAY

Bastian Schweinsteiger and Dax McCarty providing big personalities for Fire

After not having a clear leader before last season, the Fire now have two big personalities leading the way in Dax McCarty and Bastian Schweinsteiger.

Both made an early impression on rookie midfielder Mo Adams, who also left an impression of sorts on McCarty.

“The first training session we had, I got a little kick from Mo Adams and I enjoyed that, I enjoyed that quite a bit actually,” McCarty said. “I like young players and I like rookies that have attitude and that have personality and that aren’t afraid of supposed bigger guys or veteran guys. I really enjoy that. He apologized to me after that and I was like, ‘Hey, don’t worry about it man. This is competition. I love it.’”

Adams, selected 10th in Friday’s draft by the Fire after trading up for the pick, said he didn’t want to change anything about himself as a player just because he was a rookie.

“I’m the kind of guy that will get stuck into challenges and stuff,” Adams said. “It’s what brought me here and I’m going to continue doing that. I think I’ve got great mentors in Dax and obviously Bastian and I’m going to kind of remain grounded and see what they do and just try to get that on board and of course their experience and stuff, there’s a lot to take in, but I’m certainly shocked that I call them my teammates right now. It’s a fantastic experience.”

The Englishman recalled his first time meeting Schweinsteiger and told the story with a grin on his face.

“He sits across me in the locker room,” Adams said. “I remember the first time he walked in, I shook his hand and I was like ‘What’s up, man?’ I’ve watched this guy throughout his years in the Bundesliga and I’m a [Manchester] United fan, too, so watching him play in the Premier League was amazing. Now to play alongside him in practice and hopefully games in the future is going to be something to look forward to.”

Adams plays in central midfield and will likely be the backup to Schweinsteiger and McCarty. McCarty was captain of the New York Red Bulls before the Fire traded for him and Schweinsteiger’s resume tends to draw respect from opponents and teammates. Both players have turned into the faces of the Fire and give younger players like Adams recognizable figures to gravitate towards.

For Schweinsteiger, returning to the Fire and getting a full preseason to prepare after joining three games into the season last year is a notable difference from a year ago.

“I remember the first game was not easy on the field to remember who is who, you know the names,” Schweinsteiger said of his Fire debut last April. “Of course I settled in and for me it’s very important to have a preseason and work... on a lot of things that we are prepared for the long season. Last year it was not so easy. We still, I think, did very well, but of course I think it’s going to be an advantage now to work together from the first day on.”

While Schweinsteiger is with the team in the preseason, more additions are still expected. Rafael Ramos is the only player added so far this offseason who isn’t a rookie and he likely won’t be a regular starter. McCarty doesn’t think having players arrive in the middle of the preseason is problematic.

“I think you can look at it two ways,” McCarty said. “Yeah, it’s great to have everyone that you’re going to have going forward in preseason so you can get some continuity. Guys can get to know each other’s tendencies, but I think you can also look at it like when Basti came in. He didn’t have a preseason with us. He came in three or four games into the season and didn’t miss a beat. He made us better right away so if you’re signing players of that quality and that caliber I don’t think it really matters if they have a preseason or not.”

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.