Logan and co. will be desperate for three points after last weekend’s disappointment against Seattle | Photo credit: ESPN LA
Match Preview: Chicago Fire at Chivas USA (Home Depot Center)
Friday, May 4 (ESPN 3)
Tactics is at once the easiest thing to comment upon and the most difficult thing to get right; I would venture that this is an absolute truth for pundits. For managers, the axiom is a little iffy. A manager can see a string of luck, good or bad, that overrides any tactical tweaking or consistency. On the bad side we see Aron Winters experiencing this every day in Toronto and Peter Nowak getting an earful every week, while on the good side Ben Olson is quietly making a case for manager of the year, Peter Vermes is mining gold, and people still think Sigi Schmid is a grandmaster and not some high-rent Hans Backe. The point is, tactics for the supporter and pundit is a vast arena of speculation, one that demands engagement but where you can’t honestly expect to ever be right. Too many variables. But tell that to the sport betting crowd. Continue reading
Can the Chicago Fire dish out a small dose of revenge for last year's loss to the Sounders in the US Open Cup final? | Photo credit: zimbio.com
The last time Chicago saw Seattle was the 2011 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Final, and it was not a night to remember for Fire supporters. Although Chicago was on the upswing making a last ditch run for MLS playoffs, the team that faced off against Seattle in the US Open Cup final, it could be argued, reverted to playing as the Carlos de los Cobos’s Fire and not the Frank Klopas’s Fire. In that final, Chicago played spastically, failing to maintain possession by frustratingly playing head-tennis rather than orchestrating any kind of attack. Continue reading
Stefan Antonijevic in action for Valparaiso University in 2011. | Photo credit: valpoathletics.com
The path toward achieving a dream isn’t always clear-cut. In January, Stefan Antonijevic became the first ever player from Valparaiso University to be drafted into Major League Soccer when Sporting Kansas City used the 43rd pick in the MLS Supplemental Draft to acquire the 2011 Horizon League Defensive player of the year.
Unfortunately for Antonijevic, SKC decided they already had enough depth in defense and opted against offering the former Valparaiso University defender a place on the team. In fairness, SKC is one of the most talented teams in the league and has a perfect record to show for it so far this season.
“Stefan gets judged because of his size. He’s six to seven feet and not as big as everyone else,” said VU Men’s Soccer Head Coach Mike Avery. “He was the last cut at Sporting Kansas City, so that was disappointing. But it’s no insult to him. They are arguably the best team in the league, at least so far this season, and have two really good young central defenders.”
Sporting Kansas City’s defense has been a significant reason for their unbeaten record, as the league leaders have conceded just two goals in seven matches, meaning breaking into a defense like that would have been a tall order for rookie. As a result, Antonijevic was granted the opportunity to pursue an MLS contract elsewhere.
Antonijevic (far left) celebrates with the rest of the U-20 squad after winning the 2008 USL Super-20 title. | Photo credit: United Soccer Leagues
And Antonijevic is working on doing just that. Last month, the Serbian defender began training with the Chicago Fire as a guest player. Continue reading
Chris Rolfe: Good to have you back.
The headlines have all been about Chris Rolfe this week and they have the potential to be the same this weekend with the 29-year-old in line for a first appearance in a Chicago Fire uniform since 2009. Rolfe told Chicago-Fire.com that he is “excited and ready to play” on Saturday. It remains to be seen whether Rolfe will be handed the start up front alongside Dominic Oduro or if he will be brought on as a substitute – or if he will even play at all – but hopes are high that he will be given the start and add some much needed attacking fuel. After all, the Fire’s new #18 has a history of scoring against Toronto FC.
One of those goals against the reds came at a crucial time in the 2008 season (Remember those days with Dennis Hamlett?) In the midst of a five game winless streak, the Fire welcomed Toronto FC to Toyota Park on July 12th, 2008 in hopes of regaining sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference standings. John Thorrington was the hero that day with a fantastic 92nd minute winner, but Rolfe’s contributions can hardly be downplayed. Watch his stunning sixth minute goal and the rest of the highlights from that match. Let’s hope we see a repeat of this on Saturday. Continue reading
The return of a legend and the Fire's new #18.
As if a 2009 Eastern Conference final loss to Real Salt Lake at Toyota Park wasn’t hard enough to swallow, the departure of Chris Rolfe – a true Fire original – two months earlier was also a major low point of the 2009 campaign. Rolfe took up the opportunity in September that year to prove himself in Europe with Aalborg BK in the Danish Superliga and the move was understandable.
It’s quite common for American players to grasp the first chance to play in Europe that comes their way, but it was still disappointing to lose a player who established himself as an integral member of the club during his five seasons from 2005-2009, as well as with the Chicago Fire Premier in the Premier Development League. Continue reading