Match Preview: Chicago vs. Kansas City
Toyota Park, May 12
So far May has been kind to the Fire, undefeated with four points over two games. But things are getting progressively more difficult. The defeat of Chivas in LA came at the last seconds and this last Wednesday’s draw against Real Salt Lake though steady was uninspiring. Chicago’s midweek match was a midfield grind which in a way revealed the true character of the Fire. MLS is midfield-centric league, and Chicago toes the line.
On Wednesday, we saw Marco Pappa put in a third straight excellent performance. Part of this is due to the growing understanding between Pappa and playmaker Seba Grazzini, but part of this is also due to the fact that Pappa has embraced playing the left wing role. Manager Frank Klopas has said that Chicago “are not a team that is going to rely too much on service,” so I suppose I’m going to have to resign myself to the fact that Pappa and Patrick Nyarko will never be played as out-and-out wingers. Yet it can’t be ignored that when Pappa and Nyarko provide service, the Chicago attack lights up. Continue reading
With C.J. Brown set to return to Toyota Park on Wednesday night and receive one of the greatest honors any former Chicago Fire player could wish for, it’s only fitting we look back on some of the highlights from his illustrious 13-year career with the men in red.
The Fire will always be indebted to C.J. for his dedication to the club, both on and off the field. If you wish, feel free to share some of your favorite C.J. Brown memories in the comment section below. Otherwise, enjoy this clip of a player who will always be considered a legend in these parts.
Video credit: officialfiresoccer
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