NCAA Talk

Late Dynamo strike extends Fire winless streak

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Late Dynamo strike extends Fire winless streak

Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 9:47 p.m. Updated: 11:24 p.m.

By Dieter Kurtenbach
CSNChicago.com

Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos sat with his shoulders slumped in disappointment, perhaps indicating the heat of the seat he was sitting on, as he addressed the media after the Fires 1-1 draw against the Houston Dynamo Saturday at Toyota Park.

"Its a shame, because we could win this match, de los Cobos said. But this is soccer. We need to keep working.

An 83rd minute equalizer off a header by Houston's Bobby Boswell extended the Chicago Fires winless streak to four games, and kept the Dynamo unbeaten in their last five contests.

Chicago played with fire in the final half-hour, allowing a dozen close-range opportunities to the all-out-attacking Dynamo. The Dynamo were unable to convert on the chances, thanks to opportunistic clears by Logan Pause, Yamith Cuesta and Jalil Anibaba.

Boswells goal came off the Dynamos tenth and final corner of the game. With the Dynamos offensive game plan being one that capitalizes on set pieces, and the Fires lackluster second-half defense, the equalizer could have been considered inevitable.

We knew they would take advantage of those kind of balls, set pieces, de los Cobos said. We worked on this in our training...we tried to solve the problems, and generally we did good work in the box, but one of these chances they took advantage of a very good ball. Its a difficult situation for us.

A difficult situation indeed, as the Fire - a team desperate for wins - let two points get away from them at home. De los Cobos knew it, the players knew it, the fans knew it. Despite the Fire earning a point in the standings with the draw, Toyota Park carried the air of a loss.

Yeah, its disappointing, Fire goalkeeper Jon Conway said. We put ourselves in a position to win and we werent able to come through.

The Fire scored their goal in the 18th minute Diego Chves fourth of the season. A Houston turnover at mid-pitch left Marco Pappa with acres to work along the right side. Twenty yards out, Pappa was taken down by a swarm of Houston defenders, popping the ball free. Chaves picked up possession and went unabated at goal, powering a shot past Houston goalkeeper Tally Hall.

The Fire were tested only once in the first half by the Dynamo attack. In the 23rd minute, Houston striker Will Bruin beats a sliding Josip Mikulic into the box, chipped a shot at a tough angle over Conway. The ball appeared to be spinning towards the back post of an open net, but Cuesta cleared the ball over the crossbar. The subsequent corner was cleared by the Fire.

The Fire dominated possession through the first hour of the game, with the Houston defense collapsing into the box under the pressure of the Chicago attack.

The Fires bugaboo, missed breakaways, appeared again in the 66th minute when Patrick Nyarkos sliding through ball sprung Dominic Oduro along the left sideline. One-on-one with Hall, Oduro shot from 12 yards out, ringing the crossbar with his attempt.

De los Cobos said that Oduros missed opportunity was the turning point in the game.

We had a very good chance to score the second goal, and the situation was changed, de los Cobos said bluntly. The last part of the second half, we dont play good.

After scoring late in the Fires 2-1 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy, Orduro earned his first start in a Fire uniform. He did not disappoint, matching the level of energy Gastn Puerari usually brings to the striker role, but adding size and strength, the Dynamo couldnt match up with the Ghanaian forward.

Anibaba, the rookie rightback, and Oduro were taken out in the 76th and 83rd minute respectively. The two first-year Fire players had their best games in a Chicago uniform. Anibaba was solid under constant pressure on the backline and was confident in his ability to move forward and create plays.

The draw will further the clamor over de los Cobos. At the end of a disappointing 2010 season, de los Cobos public support was down. Four straight games without a win in 2011 will not do anything to increase confidence, and with rumors bubbling again, that MLS legend and former Chivas USA and Kansas City Wizards coach Preki is in the Chicago area, a bracing win cannot come soon enough for de los Cobos.

His teams next chance to win will come on the road next Saturday in Commerce City, Colorado, where the Fire will take on the defending MLS Cup champion Colorado Rapids.

Dave Leitao suspended 3 games, DePaul put on 3-year probation

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USA TODAY

Dave Leitao suspended 3 games, DePaul put on 3-year probation

The DePaul men's basketball team has been placed on three-year probation and head coach Dave Leitao has been suspended three games for the 2019-20 season, the NCAA announced on Tuesday.

The program was found guilty of "failing to promote an atmosphere of compliance while Leitao did not "prevent violations from occurring in his program."

A Division I Committee on Infractions panel concluded that a "former DePaul associate head coach violated NCAA ethical conduct rules when he knowingly directed the former assistant director of basketball operations to provide impermissible recruiting benefits to a recruit."

The NCAA found that three coaches knew about the situation but failed to report the infractions. DePaul will vacate all wins earned while the ineligible player competed and suffer recruiting restrictions. They were also fined $5,000 plus 1% of the men's basketball program budget.

In 2019, DePaul had their first winning season since 2007 by going 19-17. 

What do the Bears have in their running backs? They’re about to find out

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USA Today

What do the Bears have in their running backs? They’re about to find out

The Bears were pleased with what they saw from their overhauled running back room during non-padded OTA and minicamp practices during the spring, but consider that an incomplete evaluation. 

David Montgomery, in particular, impressed with his quickness, athleticism and route running. Nothing Mike Davis showed dissuaded the team from believing in the free agent signing’s untapped potential. Positive things were said about seventh-round pick Kerrith Whyte Jr. and second-year undrafted free agent Ryan Nall. 

The only running back returning from 2018’s unit is Tarik Cohen. But while Ryan Pace, Matt Nagy and the Bears’ talent evaluators did their homework on their new players, they won’t really get to see what they have until the pads come on in Bourbonnais (Nagy expects the first padded practice of training camp to be Sunday). 

“I know (Montgomery) kept asking coach, ‘when do we put the pads on?” Pace said. “And so we’re to that point. One of his greatest strengths is his contact balance and his ability to break tackles, and now we’re at a point where that can be showcased.”

It’s one thing for a rookie to stand out during OTAs and minicamp. Tight end Adam Shaheen did two years ago, bodying up NFL-caliber defenders to make some impressive plays in those non-padded practices. But he faded when pads came on in training camp and didn’t play a significant role in 2017’s dour offense. 

The Bears believe Montgomery’s ability to break tackles — he forced the most missed tackles among FBS running backs in 2018 with 99, per Pro Football Focus — will translate to the NFL, giving their ground game a dimension it didn’t have in 2018. Jordan Howard avoided 22 tackles on rushing attempts last year, 28th in the NFL and nearly half the total of Kareem Hunt. Hunt appeared in 11 games (five fewer than Howard) before the Kansas City Chiefs released him after video surfaced of him pushing and kicking a woman; Montgomery’s style of play has favorably been compared to Hunt’s.  

As for Davis, Pace said: “I think I feel like he’s a little bit under the radar right now. Mike’s had a great offseason and we’re fortunate to have him. That’s a strong room — we talk about the receivers, we feel the same way about the running back room. And Mike Davis is a real important part of that.”

The Bears feel like Montgomery, Davis and Cohen leading their running back room will allow them to be less predictable and more efficient on offense. Last year, Howard carried the ball two-thirds of the time he was on the field, while he was targeted with a pass on just six percent of his plays. Yet no skill position player (except Mitch Trubisky, of course) was more involved in the Bears’ offense last year — 33 percent of the Bears’ total plays involved Howard. 

All three of the Bears’ top running backs in 2019 will be expected to catch passes out of the backfield as well as running the ball with a blend of efficiency and explosiveness. We’ll begin to find out this week in Bourbonnais if Pace’s overhaul of that corner of his depth chart will produce the results the Bears’ offense needs.