Record crowd sees five designated players, zero goals as Fire and Red Bulls draw

A crowd of 21,868- the largest crowd ever to watch the Chicago Fire in Toyota Park– saw a 0-0 stalemate between the Fire and the New York Red Bulls, but still probably left happy after seeing one of the biggest concentrations of international stars in the leagues history.

A record five Designated Players took the pitch in Bridgeview, with Freddie Ljungberg and Nery Castillo representing the Fire and Juan Pablo Angel, Thierry Henry and Rafael Marquez suiting up for New York. Yet while each flashed some moments of brilliance, neither team could manage to find the back of the net. In fact, Chicago’s rookie goalkeeper Sean Johnson outshone all of the stars, pulling off multiple spectacular saves to keep the Red Bulls out.
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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 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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