Fire acquire Freddie Ljungberg, gearing up for 2007-esque late season surge?

freddie-ljungberg

In a week where the team traded veteran midfielder Justin Mapp and unveiled new Designated Player Nery Castillo, the changes keep coming for the Chicago Fire- yesterday, the team announced the acquisition of midfielder Freddie Ljungberg from the Seattle Sounders.

Ljungberg, 33, brings with him one of the most impressive resumes in MLS. He rose to fame playing on the wing for Arsenal of the English Premier League, enjoying a legendary nine year spell for the Gunners. Ljungberg played an integral role in winning two league titles- most famously in 2003-2004, when the “Invincibles” went the entire league season without losing a match- and three FA Cups. He also scored 15 goals in a ten year career international with Sweden, captaining his country in the final two years before his international retirement in 2008. The midfielder impressed after coming to MLS last year as well, being named captain of the 2009 MLS all-star team.

by Sam Svoboda

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Chicago Fire sign Hotheaded Mexican Forward Nery Castillo

Nery Castillo

Broadcast on the Jumbotron following the Chicago Fire’s 1-0 loss to the New England Revolution, was the signing of 26-year old Mexican Forward Nery Castillo. He comes to the team on loan from the Shakhtar Donetsk of Ukraine. He also has the option to make the transfer permanent.

Many thought Cuauhtemoc Blanco’s name would be announced Saturday night, but technical director Frank Klopas thinks the team made the right decision by going with Castillos.

“Blanco’s relationship with the Fire will continue whether he’s here or not. His heart is in Chicago,” Klopas said. “We had to make the move that was best for the team.”

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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Chicago Fire to Announce New Signing Tonight at 8 PM CT

Fire Franchise Player

Tonight at 8 PM CT, the Chicago Fire will announce the signing of a Designated Player. The announcement will be made directly after the Fire’s SuperLiga match against New England Revolution, which kicked off at 6 PM CT. A press conference will be held by head coach Carlos de los Cobos following the announcement.

By: Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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2010 World Cup Preview: Group A

World Cup

Aside from Group G (the “group of death”), Group A may prove to be the toughest all-around group from top to bottom. France is favored to win the group but will have their hands full with the host country South Africa and two battle-tested squads in Mexico and Uruguay. In this article, we make our World Cup Odds, World Cup Futures Odds, and make our World Cup Soccer Picks

Game to watch: Watch all of them! But, if you had to pick one game to watch, it would have to be the first game between South Africa and Mexico. Mexico got the short end of the stick having to play the host country first. The annoying horns will be blowing and the crowd will look like the stage of the Lion King musical with everyone decked out in yellow and green. Mexico will be favored in this match, but with the fans on their side South Africa may be able to start off the World Cup with a bang.

by Justin Mertes-Mistretta

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Fire tie TFC, another disappointing 2-2 performance

Justin MappDeRo

By Alex Simon

It was an ugly performance by both teams’ backlines Saturday night.  However, a late inexcusable mistake by a Fire substitute let the visiting TFC (Toronto FC) side off the hook.  Thus, the Fire played to a 2-2 tie against Toronto.

While Chicago’s playmaker Cuauhtémoc Blanco was sidelined with a strained hamstring, TFC’s star player, DeRo (Dwayne De Rosario), made his presence felt from the get-go.  In the 6th minute, DeRo scored off a defensive blunder by C.J. Brown and Wilman Conde.

“We’re gift wrapping goals. It’s like Christmas time. If they beat us with a good goal, fair enough, but quit giving away easy goals and putting ourselves behind the eight-ball. That’s the bottom line,” said Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch after the match.

DeRo was able to pick apart the shaky Fire defense once again, this time coming in the first minute of the second half.  The Fire D failed to get back on a TFC counterattack as DeRo sent a beautiful cross in the box, scored by unmarked ex-Fire forward Chad Barrett.

Fortunately for the Fire, as bad as their defense was, Toronto’s Nick Garcia was worse.  The Fire’s first goal came on a TFC own goal in the 14th minute, when Garcia chested the ball into his own net.  Then in the 78th minute, Garcia was caught ball watching and left Brian McBride wide open for the easy header from a Justin Mapp cross, equalizing the game at 2-2.  (Garcia’s lackadaisicalness on McBride’s goal was frighteningly similar to an Eddy Curry box out). mcbride

The Fire had several scoring opportunities late in the game.  None would be as good as the one the Fire had in the last play of the game.  With the game level 2-2 in the 93rd, Fire forward Patrick Nyarko beat his defender and passed to a running teammate.  Unfortunately, that teammate was late sub, Calen Carr.  With the goalie nowhere to be found, Carr just needed a simple tap in from a foot away from goal to be the hero.  Carr hit the ball wide of the goal, leaving 16,890 Fire faithful dejected with how the game ended.

Chicago vs Toronto Highlights 9/26/09

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly against TFC

The Good

Justin Mapp:
He was tremendous.  This was the best I have seen Mapp play since the Soldier Field days.  IF Mapp can play at a similar level in the remaining games of the regular season, he can expect major minutes in the playoffs.

Brian McBride:
Back in August, team doctors thought McBride would be out for the season after having shoulder surgery.  “Superman” is back and most importantly, healthy.  I asked McBride how the shoulder felt after last week’s game against Columbus, saying the shoulder was a non-issue.  He proved that against Toronto, giving TFC fits all night.

The Bad

Injuries:

With only three games remaining in the season, now is not the time to be dealing with injuries with the playoffs coming up.  Rolfe was a late scratch but the Fire said it was just precautionary.  Ward and Woolard are still out, but players I think we can do without.  Although Banner played well at left back, a healthy Segares is a major step up.  The same goes for Thorrington.  Not only is Thorrington a good player, but also provides toughness and grit that this team is lacking without him.  With Soumare gone, Thorrington would be a huge help to Conde and C.J.  With that said, if Blanco is not ready to go come playoff time, it does not matter how the other Fire injuries play out.  Blanco is without question our best and most valuable player, and without him, there will be NO deep playoff run.

The Ugly

The D:

The Calen Carr rant and why the f#$% Hamlet put him in the game to begin with is ridiculous, but I think and pray that the Calen Carr era is over. (Carr’s miss was equivalent to a kicker missing an extra point to win the game)  Carr won’t matter in the playoffs, but the defense will, and they really need to figure their s— out.