A big week in Chicago? No. It’s a huge week around Chicago Fire headquarters.
Over the next four night, Frank Klopas’ club (surely among the league’s best over the past two months) can secure its playoff spot. There even an outside shot the boys from Bridgeview could find themselves presiding atop the Eastern Conference standings.
It all starts tonight as the Fire host Philadelphia, a side with lots of young talent, but one already eliminated from post-season matters.
The Fire travels to Red Bull Arena for a high-profile, nationally televised contest against Thierry Henry and the Red Bulls this weekend.
Both will be occasions for Chris Rolfe to keep demonstrating his case for any post-season honors that may fall his way – and maybe even a growing case for a little national team love. Rookie center back Austin Berry gets his next chance shine. (Thanks for the swell promotional Austin Berry / Life cereal box, fellows. Nicely played!)
And amid all that …
The Fire have planned themselves a fiesta. It’s about their 15th anniversary.
And how is this for network and city-wide synergy: Eamonn Walker, the actor who portrays battalion chief Wallace Boden on the NBC drama … wait for it … Chicago Fire, will toss the ceremonial coin before kickoff.
Los Angeles FC selected five players in the MLS Expansion Draft, including Costa Rican national team star Marco Urena.
Whether they’ll make their way to the City of Angels is another story.
The first pick from general manager John Thorrington was goalkeeper Tyler Miller from Seattle Sounders.
[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]
Going next was Latif Blessing from Sporting KC, an electric attacker who netted thrice with an assist last season.
Next was Urena from San Jose and the Costa Rican national team, a huge addition, and then Columbus left back Jukka Raitala before closing up the draft with Raheem Edwards from Toronto FC.
LAFC has already announced the signings or acquisitions of Carlos Vela, Walker Zimmerman, Carlos Alvarez, Monday Etim, and Guillermo Vizcarra.
The club will also loan Omar Gaber from Basel and Rodrigo Pacheco from Lanus.
Chelsea visits the John Smith’s Stadium to face Huddersfield Town in one of three Premier League fixtures this chilly Tuesday in December (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
The Blues are now 14 points back of Manchester City, and three points clear of fifth place.
Meanwhile there are a pair of matches on NBC Sports Gold: Burnley looks to keep pace with its Top Four ambitions when it hosts struggling Stoke City, while in-form Crystal Palace seeks a home win that would move it out of the drop zone. In its way? Dangerous, attack-minded Watford.
Burnley vs. Stoke City — 2:45 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]
Huddersfield Town vs. Chelsea — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]
Crystal Palace vs. Watford — 3 p.m. ET [ STREAM ]
ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned Colombia midfielder Edwin Cardona for five matches for making a discriminatory gesture with his eyes toward a South Korean opponent.
FIFA will allow Cardona to serve the ban in friendly games, so he should be available for Colombia’s World Cup opener against Japan on June 19.
[ MORE: Pep on post-derby celebrations ]
Cardona has also been fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150) because of the incident last month in a friendly in Seoul.
Cardona apologized at the time, saying he “didn’t mean to disrespect anyone, a country or a race, but if anyone felt offended, or interpreted it in that way, I am sorry.”
Spurs finally got a bit of good news this weekend with a blowout of Stoke City.
That was a followed by a tough draw against Juventus in the UEFA Champions League, and bad news on an old injury.
[ MORE: Benitez on NUFC struggles ]
Center back Toby Alderweireld is going to be gone into February, extending his time on the sidelines with a hamstring injury suffered Nov. 1 against Real Madrid.
Spurs were 6-2-2 in league when Alderweireld went down, and are just 2-2-2 since the injury. The Belgian has missed losses at Arsenal and Leicester, draws against Watford and West Brom, and wins over Crystal Palace and Stoke.
Tottenham did win both of its UCL matches since the injury.