Nicolas Gaitan to Join Bastian Schweinsteiger, Dax McCarty in Chicago Fire Midfield

When the Chicago Fire open their season on Sunday against Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the L.A. Galaxy they will do so with a new player added to the roster. Thursday saw Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang announce the transfer of Nicolas Gaitan to the Major League Soccer side.

“Nicholas Gaitan joined the US Fireworks Chicago Fire Team. The club expressed its heartfelt gratitude to Gaitan for his contribution to the team during the Dalian period,” the post on the official Dalian website reads.

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Bastian Schweinsteiger to Fill Positional Holes for Chicago Fire in 2019

bastian schweinsteiger

Bastian Schweinsteiger is back for a third season with the Chicago Fire in 2019, and the position he’ll play this year is…wherever he’s needed. Obviously, he’s a natural and preferred #6, and thus his best place is in the defensive midfield, but last season he played as a central defender on many occasions, filling the team’s talent and depth gap at the position.

According to Schweinsteiger himself, in this interview he just did with ESPN at Major League Soccer Media Day (video below), he played the final eight games of the 2018 season at centre-back. Schweinsteiger also said he believes central defense is where he can most help the team out right now.

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Where Will David Beckham Play Next Season? France? England?

The Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer are embattled in a playoff race. These games could be the end of David Beckham’s tenure in the United States. Beckham is certainly in the twilight of his career, but he’s still an effective player, and best in the world at set pieces..

The Galaxy take on Real Salt Lake in the conference final as the cloud of Beckham’s questionable future with the club hangs over the team. He still has the ability to play an elite level by garnering fifteen assists in twenty-six regular season contests. His two assists thus far in the postseason have also come at crucial times.

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Catching up with the Fire’s Gonzalo Segares, our favorite Costa Rican athlete in Chicago

Since we interviewed Gonzalo Segares just one year ago, much has changed for both parties. The Sports Bank has seen vast changes in its readership- so far in August, the site has already accumulated three times as many views as it received in all of August 2009, and there are still ten days left in the month.

Segares‘ life changed dramatically as well. At this point last year, the Costa Rican international had spent his entire professional career playing in MLS with the Chicago Fire. Yet after the 2009 season, “Sega” left Chicago to get a taste of European football, signing with Apollon Limassol in Cyprus.

By Sam Svoboda

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Fire earns three crucial points in 2-1 comeback win over New England

More than a third of the MLS season remains for the Chicago Fire, but last night may very well have been a turning point for the team as the Men in Red rallied for a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution. The win puts them three points ahead of the Revs, in sole possession of fourth place in the Eastern Conference and right into the thick of a crowded playoff hunt.

The Fire started brightly enough at Toyota Park, with Freddie Ljungberg once again at the center of the attack. The finishing touch was not quite there, though, and the Revolution began to get into the match. Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was called into action twice in the first 15 minutes, and while the rookie made two good saves, he could do nothing when New England opened the scoring in the 16h minute. Chicago’s All-Star defender Wilman Conde slipped with the ball under pressure, allowing Marko Perovic to charge into the box for a one-v-one with the keeper. Johnson went for the ball, but Perovic rounded him and easily slid the ball into the empty net to strike first blood.

By: Sam Svoboda

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When reporters meet their heroes (aka my experience with Freddie Ljungberg and Thierry Henry) Part 2

Journalists aren’t supposed to have biases, I get that. Makes a good amount of sense in theory. In practice, however, it’s safe to say that most people who cover sports were sports fans before they became sports reporters, and true sports fandom is not something that can just be tossed aside- thus, while it is noble to try to be completely objective, we all have biases somewhere in our heads.

I mention this because there is no point in denying that I’m a big fan of Arsenal FC in England’s Premier League, and I have been for nearly a decade. So when I told people I would be covering the Fire-vs-Red Bulls match last week- a match that featured Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg– people wanted to know what it was like to meet two former Arsenal stars. After all, it’s not every day that people get to meet legends from their favorite team.
By: Sam Svoboda [Read more…]

When reporters meet their heroes (aka my experience with Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg) Part 1

thierry-henry

Journalists aren’t supposed to have biases, I get that. Makes a good amount of sense in theory. In practice, however, it’s safe to say that most people who cover sports were sports fans before they became sports reporters, and true sports fandom is not something that can just be tossed aside- thus, while it is noble to try to be completely objective, we all have biases somewhere in our heads.

I mention this because there is no point in denying that I’m a big fan of Arsenal FC in England’s Premier League, and I have been for nearly a decade. So when I told people I would be covering the Fire-vs-Red Bulls match last week- a match that featured Thierry Henry and Freddie Ljungberg– people wanted to know what it was like to meet two former Arsenal stars. After all, it’s not every day that people get to meet legends from their favorite team.

By: Sam Svoboda

For part two, with Freddie Ljunberg go here

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New stars collide as Fire host Red Bulls

Given the current standings and the rivalry between the cities, a FireRedBulls match was always going to be a big one for supporters of the two teams. However, when the two teams play on Sunday at Toyota Park, there will be soccer fans from across the country- and beyond- tuning in.

These people won’t be watching just because the Fire can make up some crucial ground in the Eastern Conference, but because of the two new Designated Players– a.k.a. international stars- that each team will be fielding. (With New York’s veteran DP Juan Pablo Angel included, it will be the first time in MLS history that five Designated Players will be on the field together.) With two of the newly-arrived four having starred for Mexico and three having delivered illustrious club careers in Europe, fans from all over will be curious to see how each adapts and contributes to his new team- and new league.
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Chicago Fire blow chance to get back into Conference Race

chicago-fire-ball

The Chicago Fire have had a rather disappointing season so far. This 2010 team doesn’t look like they’ll reach the Conference Finals like their 2009 counterparts did. The Fire blew a great chance to make up some ground Saturday night as their 2-0-3 unbeaten streak ended by a Jason Garey header in the final moments of the first half, capping a frantic four-minute interval that saw all three goals scored in Columbus’ 2-1 victory over the Fire at Crew Stadium.

The Fire (4-4-5, 17 points) lost a step on the Eastern Conference leading Crew (8-2-3, 27 points), who increased their lead over the fourth place Fire to 10 points. It was the Fire’s first regular season loss to the Crew in Columbus since July 3, 2004, previously going 4-0-4.

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Talking MLS with Fox Soccer Channel’s Katie Witham

katie witham

Paul M. Banks conducts an exclusive interview of Fox Soccer Channel’s Katie Witham

For part one of this interview click here

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Empire State of Mind for Theirry Henry

Henry & Nash

By Alex Simon

The Thierry Henry to MLS rumor resurfaced over the weekend. According to the Daily Mail, Henry will look for a new challenge after the World Cup with the 32-year old excited at the prospect of playing football in one of the world’s biggest cities in New York.

For some time now, Henry has stated he would eventually like to play in the states. However, this report is the first to put a timeline on when Henry would come to Major League Soccer. Henry has stated numerous times that he loves New York and would not be willing to play for any other MLS club but the Red Bulls. Given this and the many subsequent reports, the Thierry Henry Watch is now in full effect.Red Bull?

There has only been one other player close to Henry’s worldwide popularity to play in MLS, David Beckham. There has been much debate whether Beckham coming to America has been a success. While Beckham has sold out jerseys and stadiums, the Galaxy have not been competitive until this year. I believe it is still too early to decide if Beckham’s influence was a positive one for MLS and soccer in America.

Beckham may be a heartthrob and a fashion mogul, but Henry has something to offer that Beckham can never, scoring goals. The few well-informed soccer fans in the U.S. understand that you do not have to score a goal to have a good game. However, this would be a non-issue regarding the Frenchman. Henry is a forward, and scoring goals is what he does best. If Juan Pablo Angel can put up impressive numbers in MLS, there is no telling the damage Henry could do to opposing defenders. My guess is to expect video game-like numbers if Henry were to come play here.

We learned that one guy can’t change the way Americans look at soccer, but Henry’s goal scoring would bring more awareness to the game than Beckham’s occasional free kick strike. Whether you like soccer or not, most people are fans of scoring. SportsCenter is not going to put a nice Beckham cross in their highlight-reel, but Henry putting one in the back of the net, now that is something to work with.

Shorthanded Fire take on Donovan, Becks on ESPN2

Beckhams

By Alex Simon

Tonight the Fire visit the Los Angeles Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.  With the win and a D.C. loss or tie, the Fire will clinch a playoff spot for the 11th time out of 12 years.  The Fire will be without many of their regulars, most notably Cuauhtémoc Blanco.

The Galaxy received good news yesterday regarding their DP (Designated Player), David Beckham.  Beckham missed last week’s game against Columbus due to inflammation in his ankle, but is expected to start against the Fire.  The Galaxy has a chance at something they have not been able to accomplish since Beckham signed with the team in 2007. Just like the Fire, a win would clinch a spot in the playoffs for L.A. pending the result of the D.C.-Chivas match.

Prediction:

Blanco did not even make the trip to L.A.  This is the second consecutive match Blanco will miss because of his strained hamstring.  Without him, Segares, Thorrington, and possibly Rolfe, it will be tough for the Fire to create offensive opportunities.  The Galaxy had the most goals allowed in MLS last year, 62.  This year they have been scored on only half that number, 31.  A big reason for that is rookie defender Omar DonovanGonzalez.  The 6ft. 5in. Gonzalez has been superb each time I have tuned in for a Galaxy match this year.  Fire will have to worry about Beckham’s free kicks and service, but most of all Landon Donovan.  Donovan burned the Fire defense last time the two teams met.  The Fire lost that August game to the Galaxy 2 nil, and I do not expect Friday night to be much different.  Unfortunately, I favor an inspired Galaxy squad 2-0 against the banged up Fire.

Note: the only thing worse than a Fire defeat tonight, would be a Fire defeat plus Donovan getting hurt.  (Knock on (Kerry) Wood)  The U.S. visit Honduras October 10 for a crucial World Cup qualifier, and need a healthy Donovan.