Tag Archives: Chicago Fire

Chicago Fire: You win some, you lose some

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Chicago Fire 1- Atlanta United 2: Loss

Saturday, May 5

After two road games, the Chicago Fire came back home to Toyota Park to host the Atlanta United. The last time the two met the Fire played with 10 men early in the game and eventually lost the game 4-0.

Starting XI

Richard Sanchez; Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Damian Lillard, Brandon Vincent; Dax McCarty ©, Mo Adams; Elliot Collier, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Aleksandar Katai; Nemanja Nikolić

Chicago Fire coach, Veljko Paunović kept the same lineup from the previous week against Toronto FC, but in a different formation, Schweinsteiger was moved up from the back line to attacking midfield in order to create scoring opportunities for Nikolić and Katai. 

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Aleksandar Katai (left) and Diego Campos (right) setting up for a free kick. Image: Daniela Calvo

The Fire dominated the first half by keeping Atlanta on their toes in order to minimize them from scoring. The Fire was aware that Atlanta could find space and exploit it by creating a scoring opportunity. But once the halftime whistle blew the score was 0-0.

Subsequently, 8 minutes into the second half, Atlanta’s Ezequiel Barco scored the first goal of the night with an assist from Miguel Almirón. Then 4 minutes after that, it was Josef Martinez who scored the second goal for Atlanta.  Ultimately in the 61st minute, Fire’s, Kevin Ellis scored his first goal of the season with a half-volley and the last one of the match.

The Fire played a midweek game against The Montreal Impact.

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Kevin Ellis, player who scored Chicago’s only goal of the match. Image: Daniela Calvo

Chicago Fire 1- Montreal Impact 0: Win

Wednesday, May 9

Starting XI

Richard Sanchez; Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Damian Lillard, Brandon Vincent; Mo Adams, Dax McCarty©, Bastian Schweinsteiger; Alan Gordon, Aleksandar Katai, Nemanja Nikolić

After losing to Atlanta United 4 days prior, the Chicago Fire were looking to defeat the Montreal Impact. This time Fire Coach, Veljko Paunović added Alan Gordon to the starting lineup. Currently, both teams are battling for the middle of the table so this game is an important one.

It took 34 minutes into the game of Aleksandar Katai to find a scoring opportunity, but unfortunately, Impact defender, Daniel Lovitz was there to clear the ball and keep the score an even 0-0 in the first half.

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Bastian Schweinsteiger setting up for a free kick after he was fouled. Image: Daniela Calvo

The Fire bounced back in the 89th minute when defender Kevin Ellis scored the only goal of the match for the Fire marking the final score 1-0. The Fire tend to dominate in the second half, and having young talented players on the bench aides them when its time to sub in to keep the momentum going in the final minutes of the game.

Chicago Fire’s Mo Adams aided the team greatly with his defensive skills. He was all over the field stopping Impact’s Ignacio Piatti from putting them on the board. He was not awarded Man of the Match, but he sure made an impact. 

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Rookie Mo Adams. Image: Daniela Calvo

Images courtesy: Daniela Calvo

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The Fire Break Even

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Saturday, April 28: 2-2 Draw

Starting XI

Richard Sánchez; Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Grant Lillard, Brandon Vincent (Alan Gordon 82’); Mo Adams, Dax McCarty © (Jon Bakero 76’); Elliot Collier (Diego Campos 67’), Nemanja Nikolić, Aleksandar Katai

The Chicago Fire were coming hot from New York after defeating the Red Bulls and were anticipating to trounce the reigning MLS Cup Champions, Toronto FC. Just 48 hours prior to this match, Toronto lost their final game against Las Chivas de Guadalajara in Mexico for the CONCACAF Champions League title. Seeing that the Fire was on a weeks rest, it was apparent that they were going to take advantage and try to win another 3 points on the road.

VAR

The first half was dominated by close calls that led to 3 separate occasions where Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was used. The first time was in the 8th minute when Toronto’s Jonathan Osorio scored the go-ahead goal. The reason VAR was used was because Sebastian Giovinco was offside when he passed the ball to his teammate Osorio.

Despite using VAR, the referee made the incorrect call, the goal stands, and Toronto is up 1-0 early in the game. 3 minutes later, VAR was used once more to rule out a second Toronto goal- this time Giovinco put the ball in the net and was assisted by Nicolas Hasler who was ruled offside on the initial playthrough.

But in the 22nd minute, Victor Vazquez scored Toronto’s second goal with an assist by Michael Bradley. The third and final time VAR was used was in the 36th minute when Chicago Fire’s Nemanja Nikolić was hurt inside the box by Toronto defender, Ashtone Morgan-the call was ruled a penalty, which Bastian Schweinsteiger took and missed. The Fire is down 2 goals at the half.

Eye of the Schweinsteiger

In the second half, the Fire did what they do best, which is hustle. Schweinsteiger moved from his spot as defender and took on a midfield position in order to open space and create scoring opportunities. Twenty-five minutes into the second half, Schweinsteiger scored Chicago’s first goal of the match. After pressing Toronto, the Fire equalized the score in stoppage time. Schweinsteiger and Johan Kappelholf assisted Alan Gordon who scored the final goal of the match.

The Fire return home next Saturday, May 5 against Atlanta United at 7:30 PM CST.

Featured image of Sanchez courtesy: @ChicagoFire

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A much needed win for Chicago

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Saturday, April 21: 1-2 Win

Starting XI

Richard Sánchez; Kevin Ellis, Johan Kappelhof, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Grant Lillard, Brandon Vincent; Mo Adams, Dax McCarty ©; Elliot Collier (Alan Gordon 75’), Nemanja Nikolić (Jonathan Campbell 89’), Aleksandar Katai (Diego Campos 83’)

After a devastating loss at home, the Chicago Fire were looking to gain points against the New York Red Bulls. The odds were stacked against the Fire because, in the last 5 matches against the Red Bulls, the Fire lost 3 and drew 2. Plus, very few clubs have defeated the Red Bulls on their own turf.

But with help from goalkeeper, Richard Sanchez and a strong back line, and Aleksandar Katai, the Fire successfully gained 3 points. This victory was one for the books, it was important for building self-confidence and drive in a team which has been struggling to find their groove.

Fire coach, Veljko Paunović has been tinkering with the starting lineup. Given that the team has been struggling defensively and have 5 seasoned players on the injury list.

During the first half, the Fire was playing a defense that they did not press enough when gaining possession. Then on the 28th minute Katai missed a scoring opportunity that lead to two consecutive corner kicks.

After the second corner kick, the ball deflected onto Katai’s left boot, which is a contender for goal of the week, if not goal of the year. Shortly after Katai’s goal, Sanchez denied the Red Bulls not once, but twice in a single sequence. At the end of the half the Fire were up by one.

Throughout the second half, the Red Bulls were pressing the Fire, but Sanchez was there to stop them from scoring. In the 68th minute, Katai was on a 1 v 1 with Red Bull’s keeper, Luis Robels and was tipped inside the box, which earned the Fire a penalty. Nemanja Nikolić took the penalty and scored a second goal for the Fire and summed his goals to 5 for this 2018 season.

In the 70th minute a Red Bulls goal was annulled, but 10 minutes later New York’s, Bradley Wright-Phillips takes advantage of a loose ball and scores one for the Red Bulls. 4 minutes were added to stoppage time, which accelerated the game- but alas, the final whistle blew and the Fire won and earned 3 very important away points.

As the Fire beat the odds, in a very memorable way- Sanchez totaled 9 saves and has earned a spot in the MLS team of the week roster. Nikolić scored his 5th goal putting him 1 behind Atlanta United’s Joseph Martinez.

Mo Adams is the 5th player to make his MLS debut in the last 6 games. Up next, the Fire are headed to BMO Field to face defending MLS Cup champions, Toronto FC at 2:00 PM CST.

Featured image of Sanchez courtesy: @SBISoccer

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Clash of the Titans in Chicago

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Saturday, April 14: 0-1 Loss

Starting XI

Richard Sanchez; Johan Kappelhof, Jonathan Campbell, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Grant Lillard, Brandon Vincent; Elliot Collier (Jon Bakero 85’), Dax McCarty ©, Tony Tchani (Diego Campos 70’); Nemanja Nikolic, Alan Gordon (Aleksandar Katai 61’).

On a cold and rainy Saturday afternoon, the Chicago Fire faced the Los Angeles Galaxy. The Fire were coming from their first win while their opponent was coming from a loss to Sporting Kansas City. So the Fire were hoping to carry on that momentum and defeat the Galaxy. Toyota Park was sold out; people came to see the “Clash of the Titans” Bastian Schweinsteiger vs Zlatan Ibrahimović – former Manchester United teammates.

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Bastian Schweinsteiger (31) guarding Zlatan Ibrahimović (9) Image: Daniela Calvo April 14/18

The Fire played a heavy defensive first half. With defender Jonathan Campbell making his return to the lineup after a facial fracture and Schweinsteiger reappearing at center back, the once frail defense has gained some strength. As the weak defense was gathering strength, the midfield was lacking and the Fire could not connect with each other, thus losing possession many times in the midfield.

It took 45 +1’ for Ibrahimović to score a goal with an assist by Galaxy captain, Ashley Cole.  The halftime whistle blew and the teams took some time to warm up and regroup.

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Brandon Vincent (3) taking a corner kick Image: Daniela Calvo April 14/18

In the second half, fans expected the Fire to pick up and take more of an offensive stance. Although the Galaxy dominated the first half they shared possession with the Fire. In previous matches, the Fire tend to gain momentum and score, plus the wind was blowing in the Fire’s direction.

There were a handful of scoring opportunities, which were not seized. The final whistle blew with the score marked 0-1 and so the fans were left out in the cold to witness another loss.

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Jonathan Campbell (16) returning to the lineup. Image: Daniela Calvo April 14/18

The New York Red Bulls host the Fire this Saturday, April 21, at 2:30 PM CST.

Images courtesy: Daniela Calvo

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3 Points to Fuel the Fire

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Saturday, April 7: 1-0 Win

Starting XI

Sanchez; Ellis, Schweinsteiger, Kappelhof; Vincent, Tchani, McCarty ©, Conner; Campos, Gordon, Nikolić

On a brisk Saturday night, the Chicago Fire won their first match of the season. After last week’s match against the Portland Timbers, Fire coach, Veljko Paunović warned fans that the Fire will have to “prepare for a tough couple of months” due to the team’s weak defense. With that said, and a couple of changes made by Paunović, the Fire defeated their Midwest rivals, the Columbus Crew

The Fire scored early in the first half on a mistake by the Crew’s keeper, Zak Steffen, who tried to pass the ball to one of his own but Nemanja Nikolić was there to intercept the pass, and then score. The Fire was able to hold onto the lead at the half.

The second half was intense; the Crew had more possession and shots on goal, two of which were saved by the crossbar. In the 75th minute, Columbus put the ball in the back of the net but the referee marked it offside. Moving Bastian Schweinsteiger to center back aided the Fire and the weak defense. Schweinsteiger logged 11 defensive clearances. In the end, the Fire escaped with a win- it was not a pretty win but it was an important one.

This match was goalkeeper, Richard Sanchez’s first shutout game in his 6 games with the Fire. He also won Man of the Match for keeping a clean sheet against the Crew.

Rookie, Diego Campos made it to the starting lineup at mid after a stellar performance during the Timbers game the week prior. During the match with the Crew, Campos created two opportunities to score but did not have his teammates there to help him close the play.

Drew Connor recorded his first start of the season.

Grant Lillard made his MLS debut when he was subbed in at the 36th minute.

Schweinsteiger will face his old Manchester United teammate, Zlatan Ibrahimović this weekend when the Fire play against the LA Galaxy at 2:30 PM CST.

Images courtesy: Daniela Calvo/mlsfemale

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The Fire could not be extinguished

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Saturday, March 31: 2-2 Draw

Chicago Fire Starting XI:

Richard Sanchez; Brandon Vincent, Christian Dean, Johan Kappelhof, Kevin Ellis;

Tony Tchani, Dax McCarty ©; Aleksandar Katai, Bastian Schweinsteiger, Elliot Collier;

Nemanja Nikolić

On a very windy Saturday, the Chicago Fire gathered their first point of the 2018 season. After having a week off, the team had extra time to figure where mistakes were made in their previous two matches and prepare for the upcoming match vs the Portland Timbers. But somehow those same mistakes were echoed and made for a grueling 90 minutes of soccer on a day that was outshined by other great MLS matchups.

The party started early, fans celebrated with Nemanja Nikolić and his family when he was awarded the Golden Boot for his outstanding scoring performance last season. Six minutes into the kickoff whistle, Portland’s Diego Valeri scored the first goal of the match. After that first goal, the first half was run by the Timbers. The Fire had very little possession time and could not capitalize to equalize the score.

The halftime whistle blew and the score was 0-1.  Paul Tenorio asked the captain a question before he met with the team in the locker room. The question was, “What do you think will have to change?” McCarty’s answer, “We need to press higher up the field, we are at home and we are letting Portland dictate the game.”

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Daniela Calvo

The second half was underway and Chicago’s coach, Veljko Paunović made one roster change- he subbed rookie, Diego Campos for Katai. In the 50th minute, Nikolić scored Chicago’s first goal of the match with the assist of Schweinsteiger. Five minutes later,  Portland would take the lead once more with a goal by Sebastian Blanco. It took the Fire almost 30 minutes and an excruciating amount of tries to equalize.

Brandon Vincent scored the second goal with another assist by Schweinsteiger. Once the game was tied the game seemed to take on a different pace, the Fire were kicking it up a gear and putting pressure on the Portland defense, but alas, the final whistle blew and the match ended 2-2.

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Daniela Calvo

The Fire broke a two-game losing streak and finally earned their first point of the season. Bastian Schweinsteiger won Man of the Match for his assists on both goals. But all eyes were on Diego Campos, the rookie made his professional debut and did so with such confidence.

Chicago added 2 players to their injury list; defender, Matt Polster is out for 5 to 6 weeks with an MCL sprain and forward, Luis Solignac is out for 6 to 8 weeks with a left quad injury.  The Fire are back in action next Saturday, April 7, at 7:30 PM CST.

Images courtesy: Daniela Calvo/mlsfemale

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No Niko, No Party.

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

This Saturday, Chicago Fire fans are set to celebrate Nemanja Nikolić as he will receive his Golden Boot for capping 24 goals in the 2017 season. The ceremony will be held before the Chicago Fire face the Portland Timbers.

Nikolić’s journey with the Fire began on December 20, 2016, when he transferred from the Polish club, Legia Warsaw. During his time in Legia, Nikolić led the league in scoring with 28 goals in the 2015-2016 season; he was third in assists, he was named Player of the Year and Forward of the Year, and helped Legia win the league title.

Prior to his time in Legia, Nikolić played for the Hungarian club, Videoton FC, he spent 5 years in Videton and in the span of those 5 years he received many accolades. He either led or tied in overall scoring- with an exception in one season where he tied for third place. Additionally, he helped Videoton win the league title. At the end of his second season there, Nikolić was the runner-up for the league’s Golden Boot.

In 2008, he made his professional debut in Kaposvari RFC, a Hungarian club where he capped 16 goals for the club. He was tied for second in overall scoring that season.

Nikolić came to the MLS a winner and continued his top-scoring streak with the Fire during the 2017 season. He chose to stay in Chicago and dedicate his time to the Fire instead of joining his national team, Hungary for qualifying matches. Ultimately his dedication paid off because he won the Golden Boot and helped the Fire reach the postseason for the first time since 2012.

With 2 losses in the 2018 season, the Fire is looking for some momentum to win their first game and this pregame celebration is the catalyst the team needs to continue to party with Niko.

Featured image courtesy: Daniela Calvo

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Chicago Fire home opener

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Saturday, March 10: 3-4 Loss

The air was crisp, fans were lining up to enter the stadium, kids high fived and took pictures with Sparky, the team’s mascot. This day was one many fans were anticipating. The Chicago Fire had to wait an additional week to play their first game of the season.

Sporting Kansas City had lost their opener a week prior to New York City FC and was looking for a win. Hopes were high for the home opener, fans thought this game would be a win for sure, but what unfolded in the 90 minutes left fans at a loss for words.

Starting XI

Richard SanchezBrandon VincentChristian DeanJohan KappelhofMatt PolsterTony TchaniDax McCarty ©; Aleksandar KataiBastian SchweinsteigerLuis SolignacNemanja Nikolić.

The first half was dominated by Sporting KC. The team took an early lead in the 9th minute- Sanchez came off the line to make a save; the ball bounced off his hands and deflected right onto Felipe Gutierrez, who scored his first goal in the MLS. As the first half was coming to a close, Johnny Russell added one more goal for the away team.

The halftime whistle blew and the Fire was down by 2. Fans were getting restless but there was plenty of time to draw or end the game in a win. The Fire needed the halftime break to regroup.

In the second half, the Fire took fans on an emotional rollercoaster. First, Katai scored his first goal in the MLS. Minutes later, Nikolić scored the second goal of the game. Just then fans were in an uproar, cheering on the team, hoping for at least one more goal and 16 minutes later they got their wish.

Nikolić scored his second and the Fire’s third goal of the match. Shortly after, Jimmy Medranda equalized after capitalizing from another blocked shot by Sanchez. At this point, a draw would suffice. But finally, in the 86th minute, Gutierrez scored his second and the final goal of the match to mark the final score 3-4.

Throughout the 90 minutes, the Fire played a messy game.  Many passes were lost at midfield and the defense was not helping either. Sporting KC capitalized on mistakes made on the pitch. The Fire, however, showed that they can overcome a deficit but alas they couldn’t earn 3 points at home.

The Fire return to action on Saturday, March 17, 2018, against Minnesota United FC at TCF Bank Stadium.

Featured image courtesy: Daniela Calvo

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Where there’s a spark there’s a fire – Chicago Fire

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

Last season marked the Chicago Fire’s 20th year in the MLS. The Fire was in need of serious change and last season was the spark the team needed to dig themselves from the last place to the top of the table. It was one of the quickest turnarounds in the club’s history.

There were two significant player acquisitions last season that brought different sparks to the club: Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was an ambassador to the team by giving the Fire an international spotlight and Nemanja Nikolic whose skills kept old and new fans entertained. By the end of the regular season, the team qualified for playoffs for the first time since 2012 only to lose 0-4 against the New York Red Bulls in the first round. Despite the loss, there is hope that the team can build on the momentum of the 2017 regular season.

This season the Fire parted ways with David Accam, who accumulated 33 goals in the 2 years he played with the team. He was traded to the Philadelphia Union for $1.2 million in allocation money. The Fire also traded their starting goalkeeper, Matt Lampson to the Minnesota United. And finally, Arturo Alvarez was traded to the Houston Dynamo for a second-round selection in the 2019 MLS Super Draft. The team signed defender, Rafael Ramos from Orlando City; Aleksandar Katai, a forward from Deportivo Alavés; and midfielder Tony Tchani from the Vancouver Whitecaps.

 

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Image courtesy: Daniela Calvo

 

Currently, there are 3 players who are injured: Djordie Mihailovic and Michael de Leeuw who both underwent ACL surgeries in November and will be out for 6 to 8 months and Jonathan Campbell suffered a facial fracture during a preseason game on February 21st and will be out for 6 weeks.

With the excitement of last season and the changes that are going on this season, the Fire will have the opportunity to play a game overseas. That game will be played on August 28, 2018, at Allianz Arena, home of the Bayern Munich. Bastian Schweinsteiger’s testimonial match against his former club will serve as an opportunity to reach out to fans of the Bundesliga and expose them to the MLS, a young league with plenty of talent and potential.

Featured image courtesy: Daniela Calvo

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Chicago Fire and me, we’re a thing

Daniela Calvo - Chicago Fire/mlsfemale
Official Chicago Fire Reporter

By Daniela Calvo // @DanielaCalvo__

My name is Daniela Calvo and I have been following soccer since I can remember. As a Mexican American, I grew up watching Liga MX with my father, a passionate Club America fan. My weekends were filled with nothing but soccer games and on weekdays we listened to Jorge Ramos on the radio. In spite of watching and listening to soccer with me, my father was surprised he raised a fanatic.

Summer of 1998 my uncle, cousin, and I attended many Chicago Fire games at Soldier Field. Not only was my uncle excited to have a team represent our city, but also because he can introduce the sport he loved so much to his son. Lucky for me he always bought an extra ticket. Despite the triumphs of the Fire’s inaugural season my cousin never harvested an interest in the sport, which led my uncle to lose interest in the team as well.

A couple years after that, I would say the early 2000’s I started watching FC Barcelona games on my own and the reason was Ronaldinho. The talent he brought to the team- his dribbling, set pieces, and long shots captivated me. He’s the reason why Barcelona is my favorite European team. I spent years watching La Liga witnessing the rise of Messi, the integration of Neymar, and Puyol’s retirement. All of that was great, but I felt like I was missing something.

The thing I was missing was the Chicago Fire. I wanted to watch games in person, rather than my computer screen. I attended my first Fire game in 17 years on March 2015 and I did not miss a single game that season. Despite being at the bottom of the table I was always excited to attend their games.

I started bringing my camera with me and captured fans supporting the team and enjoying the atmosphere. Those images introduced me to several great people in the Chicago Fire community. Now I can’t wait to share my thoughts on this upcoming season with you via MLSFemale.

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