Chicago Fire

Getty Images

Chicago Fire sold, confirm stadium move to Soldier Field

3 Comments

Things are changing, big time, for the Chicago Fire.

Owner and chairman Andrew Hauptman has sold the Major League Soccer franchise to Joe Mansueto “effective immediately” and the Fire also confirmed they have reached an agreement to play at Soldier Field for the 2020 MLS season and are in final negotiations to make that a reality.

This is huge news for soccer in the Windy City, as the Fire have played at Soldier Field before but maybe now is the right time to take the team downtown permanently.

After lining up the $65.5 million deal to move away from their home in the Bridgeview suburbs of Chicago in July, this is a rebirth for the Fire. And after 12 years at the helm, Hauptman believes it is the right time for him to move on.

“I’m extremely proud of the positioning of the Club at this historic juncture. I know that the next step of returning to Soldier Field will make Chicago proud and I look forward to cheering on Joe, the Club and its supporters as they continue this legacy,” Hauptman said.

As for Mansueto, who bought a 49 percent stake in the club last summer, he applauded Hauptman and added that “the timing of this transaction couldn’t be better as we return the world’s game to the city I love.”

This is a game-changer for this organization, as their stadium situation echoes the issues happening with the Columbus Crew and many of the older franchises across MLS. The fan experience on gameday just wasn’t there in Bridgeview and the location of the stadium wasn’t viable for people in downtown Chicago.

The likes of D.C. United and Sporting Kansas City have proven how transformational having a new stadium in the right location can be, but is Soldier Field going to be that for the Fire? Atlanta United’s success in having sell-out crowds at Mercedes-Benz Stadium is one thing, but can the strong soccer fanbase in Chicago rally around a rebirth of the Fire and produce decent crowds of 30,000+ each week?

Given sell-out crowds for the Gold Cup final at Soldier Field this summer and a recent friendly between Club America and Chivas, it is clear fans of the sport are in Chicago.

Do they want to support the Fire? That is the $66.5 million question…

Something drastic had to happen to kick the Fire back into life and it is going to be very interesting to see how this plays out.

MLS Wrap: What we learned

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Three unanswered goals from FC Dallas to earn a draw, a late Jozy Altidore goal and Chicago cruises past Eastern Conference leaders Philadelphia Union: Saturday’s early slate of games had it all. Here’s what we learned from the busy action.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Montreal, Dallas split points in six-goal thriller

The Montreal Impact, up 3-0 in the 56th minute, probably thought they had the game in the bag. Dallas said, ‘not so fast.’

With three unanswered goals – one of those in stoppage time – Dallas did the unthinkable, stunning the Impact and flying back home with a point that tastes like three.

Dallas, like practically everyone else in the West this season, is dreaming of cracking into the final seven. Whether that happens or not is yet to be seen. What was palpable on Saturday, however, is that Dallas played with a lot of determination on the road and with all the odds against them.


Chicago gets by Philadelphia with ease

The Philadelphia Union are good but not good enough to beat the Chicago Fire, apparently.

It could have been the league’s well-known parity, or the fact that the Union were on the road, but the Fire were able to squeeze out the three points, winning 2-0 with 10 men. Nicolas Gaitan earned a straight red right before halftime.

The Union, a proven side time and time again this season, alternatively, have questions to answer and a set of defects that were unearth Saturday (including finishing) to polish up on. But as they shown several times this season after suffering loses, they’ll bounce back under Jim Curtin.

The Fire (33 points) sit one point behind Montreal, Toronto and Orlando, while Philadelphia (45 points) remain clear leaders in the Eastern Conference.


 

NYCFC too much for Cincinnati 

NYCFC had quite the showing.

With Valentin Castellanos and Heber recording a brace each, Allan Cruz’s goal stood no chance. City, who are now third in the Eastern Conference with 41 points (one behind Atlanta), are clearly in midseason form, while FC Cincinnati is yet to win under Ron Jans.

With a defense that has allowed 61 goals – like the one above – Jans’ rest of the season is looking bleaker than brighter. But then again, it’s with a team he purely adopted. It worth noting that New York’s attack has produced eight goals in the last three games, so maybe that was the determining factor.

 

 


 

Altidore earns last-minute draw for Toronto

Like in many other instances, it was Altidore to the rescue for Toronto FC.

Its goal No. 10 for the 29-year-old goal, making it his fourth season with double digit goals. Jonathan Osorio, too, pitched in a goal in the 42nd minute. 26 games in, this is exactly when Greg Vanney needs his big-time players to step up.

The Columbus Crew, in contrast, can’t catch a break. Once again the superior team, a lack of finishing and defensive concentration make it three-straight draws for the Caleb Porter’s men. With seven games to go and seven points out of playoff contention, even a late run might not be enough for a postseason regular.

Late Schweinsteiger goal propels Fire over Impact (video)

Getty Images
Leave a comment

At 35-years-old, Bastian Schweinsteiger still has some fuel left in the tank.

88 minutes in, with the score tied at 2-2, the World Cup-winning defender proved to be the difference, rising and heading in a cross from Djordje Mihailovic’s corner kick into the back of the net. It’s his first goal of the season, but an important one as the Chicago Fire look to make a late push into the Eastern Conference playoff race.

The German star, who initially signed for the Fire in 2017, signed a one-year extension in late 2018, which ends in late December of 2019.

FOLLOW LIVE: Ten games to catch on busy MLS Saturday

Getty Images
Leave a comment

With MLS All-Star Week coming up, the remaining MLS weekend schedule is squeezed into Saturday, with no less than ten games on tap.

[ FOLLOW: MLS Scoreboard]

The Washington Post reported on Friday that Wayne Rooney is back with D.C. United after taking a few days to return to England with coach Ben Olsen’s blessing. That meant Rooney missed D.C. United’s 2-0 defeat to Atlanta United last weekend as well as their 8-1 thrashing (with mostly fringe players, to be fair) against Marseille in midweek.

Now, Rooney could be set to go up against former Manchester United Bastian Schweinsteiger and the Chicago Fire, which is looking to move up in the table and snatch a playoff place.

Meanwhile, coming off a dramatic 3-2 derby win over Los Angeles FC, the LA Galaxy now travel north to face the Portland Timbers. Zlatan Ibrahimovic is in stellar form, as seen with his three-goal display last week, but it will be interesting to see how he plays on the turf at the renovated Providence Park. The Timbers meanwhile have predictably seen their form turn positive since returning home, losing just once in their last seven games.

Follow along with us at the link above and stay tuned for more reaction and analysis post game here on PST!

Saturday’s MLS schedule

New England Revolution v. Orlando City — 7 p.m. ET
New York Red Bulls v. Columbus Crew — 7:30 p.m. ET
Chicago Fire v. D.C. United — 8 p.m. ET
FC Dallas v. Real Salt Lake — 8 p.m. ET
Houston Dynamo v. Seattle Sounders — 8 p.m. ET
Minnesota United v. Vancouver Whitecaps — 8 p.m. ET
Montreal Union v. Philadelphia Union — 8 p.m. ET
Toronto FC v. FC Cincinnati — 8 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes v. Colorado Rapids — 10 p.m. ET
Portland Timbers v. LA Galaxy — 10:30 p.m. ET

Leagues Cup: Lampson leads LA; Fire out

Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

There’s no shame in Liga MX being a superior league to Major League Soccer, but it would be nice to get more showings of strength from the rapidly improving top flight for Canada and the United States.

The Leagues Cup provided that chance for four teams of MLS, who could make a statement with three quick victories over the next two months. In at least one of Tuesday’s cases, a side’s backups and reserves gave its club the chance to take it more seriously in the semifinals.

[ MORE: Rodgers talks down Maguire sale ]

The Mexican sides, by and large, spend more money deeper into their squad, and most of the clubs were established well before still relatively young MLS.

Throw in both MLS sides clearly ignoring the tournament in favor of weekend league outings, and what could’ve been a really cool tournament could’ve also wasted a lot of peoples’ time on Wednesday despite MLS having the distinct advantage of being hosts for all four quarterfinals.

Godspeed, LA Galaxy.

Chicago Fire 0-2 Cruz Azul

Chicago opted to keep many of its first-choice players on the bench or out of the 18, and it showed in an easy win for away side.

Cruz Azul out-attempted the Fire by a 14-5 margin, and held 69 percent of possession. Fire backstop Richard Sanchez was forced to make six saves, but Roberto Alvarado and Elias Hernandez scored late in each half to plug a couple of away goals onto the board.

Alvarado’s goal was simply magical.

LA Galaxy 2-2 (3-1 pens) Club Tijuana

The resilient hosts took the favored visitors to penalties, where

Servando Carrasco gave LA a lead, and Matt Lampson stopped Erick “Cubo” Torres only to see Efrain Alvarez clanked the next effort off the post. Ariel Nahuelpán then leveled the score before Gibran Lajud made a save for Tijuana

But Lampson answered the bell, and it was 1-1 after three rounds each. He made another save on Angel Sepulveda’s poor penalty, and Giancarlo Gonzalez sent the Galaxy into the semifinals.

Tijuana had most of the ball, nearly doubled LA’s passes, and out-attempted the Galaxy 20-7.

Emmanuel Boateng turned a Kai Koreniuk shot past Gibran Lajud for a 27th minute lead, but TJ tied the score within six minutes and took the lead just before halftime.

Dave Romney had an answer after halftime with a thundering header off an Efrain Alvarez corner kick, and LA was back in business with 37 minutes to play.

Tijuana’s Miller Bolanos hit the post in the 70th, but the danger was largely non-existent the rest of the way aside from wasted free kicks.

LA’s Julian Araujo was sent off in stoppage time for a second yellow card.