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Chicago Cubs owner becomes majority holder of new Chicago USL team

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USL’s addition of Chicago was announced last November, but the potential expansion side received major backing on Wednesday as the Windy City prepares to finalize its plans to enter the league.

Chicago Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has joined the Chicago USL team as the club’s majority owner, after real-estate mogul and investor Sterling Bay announced the news on Wednesday.

Ricketts and his family have owned the Cubs since the 2009 season.

The current plans for the club are to construct a 20,000-seat stadium for the expansion side in the north side of Chicago, which would likely be within two miles of Wrigley Field — where the Cubs play.

Chicago is tentatively slated to join USL ahead of the 2020 season and is currently holding a contest for potential supporters to help name the team.

Reports: Chicago, Vancouver pull out of World Cup 2026 bid

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Two major North American cities with World Cup-ready stadiums have pulled out of being host cities in the 2026 World Cup bid.

According to two separate reports, both Chicago and Vancouver will not be hosting any World Cup matches should the joint-bid between the U.S., Canada and Mexico win the right to hold the 2026 World Cup in North America.

In both cases, city and state leaders argued that FIFA asked for major financial guarantees without promising a huge return on investment, making the elected officials nervous about moving forward with a bid.

[READ: Chivas too much for Seattle]

“FIFA could not provide a basic level of certainty on some major unknowns that put our city and taxpayers at risk,” Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel’s office said in a statement Wednesday. “The uncertainty for taxpayers, coupled with FIFA’s inflexibility and unwillingness to negotiate, were clear indications that further pursuit of the bid wasn’t in Chicago’s best interests.”

It’s a big loss for the bid to lose these cities, though. Vancouver, who’s BC Place seats 54,000, hosted group stage and knockout round games before hosting the final of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, which the U.S. won in thrilling fashion over Japan. And Chicago, which had previously pulled itself out for the U.S. World Cup bids in 2010 and 2018-2022, hosted the opening match of the 1994 World Cup at Soldier Field and was assumed from the start that the third-largest city in the U.S. by population would be a host city.

As of now, Montreal, Toronto and Edmonton have agreed to move forward with the United 2026 bid, which should be more than enough for the current 10 games Canada will host. Mexico has proposed games played at Estadio Azteca, as well as in Nuevo Leon and Guadalajara.

Meanwhile, the U.S. still has 21 other venues to pick from, including major NFL stadiums such as MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas and the under-construction Los Angeles Stadium in Hollywood Park. FIFA has required the opening-match stadium and final stadium to seat 80,000+, while venues must seat a minimum of 40,000, which would force stadium’s like Toronto’s BMO Field to expand further.

NWSL Playoffs set: Portland, Washington, Chicago, Western New York

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The National Women’s Soccer League will crown its fourth champion in mid-October, and for the first time in three years the winner will not be FC Kansas City.

FCKC finished sixth after the 20-game regular season concluded this weekend, six points out of the final slot occupied by the Western New York Flash.

[ MORE: Allardyce on England hot seat? ]

The Flash join Chicago Red Stars and Washington Spirit in attempting to topple NWSL Shield winners Portland, a Thorns side which won the title in 2013 and has only missed the playoffs once.

Washington hosts Chicago on Friday in the first semifinal, while the Flash travel to Oregon for an Oct. 2 semi.

Portland Thorns (1) vs. Western New York Flash (4)

The two best goal differentials in the league meet at Providence Park, where Mark Parsons’ Thorns and their league-best defense will be tasked with stopping the highest-scoring offense in the NWSL. That means stopping Golden Boot winner Lynn Williams and runner-up Jessica McDonald, who’ve accounted for 21 of WNY’s 40 goals.

The Thorns are loaded. Women’s soccer legend Christine Sinclair, who once lifted a trophy for the Flash, is there with a quintet of USWNT mainstays. French star Amandine Henry, too, as well as leading goal scorer and Danish star Nadia Nadim.

USWNT regulars on each side
Portland: Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg, Allie Long, Emily Sonnet, Lindsey Horan

WNY: Samantha Mewis

Washington Spirit (2) vs. Chicago Red Stars (3)

The two sides split the season series, with Chicago hosting a 3-1 victory on Saturday. Sofia Huerta had a goal and an assist, as she and Christen Press combined for nine shots. They’ve combined for 15 goals on the season, though the Red Stars have only found nine goals elsewhere.

No Washington player has scored more than five goals this year, and the Spirit haven’t had a multi-goal game in September, but Argentina national teamer Estefanía Banini’s five goals in 13 matches in an impressive haul.

USWNT regulars on each side
Washington: Ali Krieger, Crystal Dunn

Chicago: Alyssa Naeher, Julie Johnston, Christen Press

Chicago hangs on to beat Dallas, go fifth in the Eastern Conference (video)

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x87nf7jKQXs]

Dallas needed a win to keep their postseason hopes alive, but seven minutes after halftime, Schellas Hyndman’s team was down three to the visiting Fire, who looked set to go fifth in the East with a win in Frisco.  The result would leave them on 46 points, even with fourth place Montréal and sixth place Philadelphia, who would slip by virtue of having one fewer win than Chicago.

Kenny Cooper, however, had other ideas. After holding off Gonzalo Segares to score Dallas’s 63rd minute opener, Cooper pulled his team within one with 15 minutes left, converting a controversially-awarded (and from Ramon Nunez’s perspective, selfishly-taken) penalty kick. Down 3-2, FCD had a little more than a quarter-hour to salvage their season.

But after a couple of close calls, Chicago finally settled down, and over the last minutes of this match, Dallas’s will drained. They needed two goals and a win to stay mathematically alive, so when their momentum didn’t quickly yield a third, the odds become very long, very quick. Juan Luis Anangonó’s opener, Mike Magee’s 19th of the year, and Jalil Anibaba’s game-winner would hold up, giving Chicago a 3-2 win.

The loss leaves Dallas seven back of Colorado (and Los Angeles) with two games to go, but although that makes Saturday the night the end point to their playoff dream, the team’s hopes had been running on fumes all fall. Leaders in the West going into the summer, Dallas seemed to regress to their mean as their year went on, finishing the season at the level many picked in February. While eighth place may have been slightly lower than most predicted, their 10-11-11 record describes a team many foresaw this winter.

For Chicago, their playoff destiny’s back in their own hands, though their final two games match them with opponents from opposite ends of the spectrum. That doesn’t mean they should sleep on Toronto, who visit Toyota Park on Saturday. Though TFC is struggling, they’ve still taken points in as many games (16) as they’ve lost. With Chicago drawing in Toronto last month, the Reds present a real danger to Frank Klopas’s side.

But if all goes as planned, Chicago’s big obstacle should be their finale at Red Bull Arena, where their playoff hopes may hinge on taking points from a team striving for the Supporters’ Shield.

Stalemate sees Chicago drop needed points in Toronto (Video)

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[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMyeo1dYMXE]

When is a point on the road in MLS not enough? When we’re past the three-quarter mark of the campaign, you’re on the road in Toronto, and you’re trying to track down two teams to claim a playoff spot.

That’s exactly the situation Chicago found themselves in prior to kickoff at BMO tonight, and at the onset, thinks looked good. A looking cross from Dilly Duka found its way into the back of the net after Mike Magee threw off Joe Bednik, giving the Fire a 1-0 lead. Hold on to the result, and Chicago would sit fifth in the East at night’s end, vaulting New England and Houston to temporarily occupy the conference’s last playoff spot.

Against a team with only four wins this season, you’d think their odds were good, especially with the expectations of a playoff race sure to be on Chicago’s minds. But Toronto’s also managed to get 10 draws out of the season, and before halftime, thanks to some help from the Fire defense, they equalized. Robert Earnshaw saw a ball played through Bakary Soumaré to him in the right of Sean Johnson’s area. Cutting back across goal as Gonzalo Segares’s block slide aside, Earnshaw left Johnson little chance to prevent the equalizer.

It was also the last goal of the match. Though Chicago slowly brought on more attack-minded players and Ryan Nelsen, while making up for Earnshaw’s early exist, looked to counter Frank Klopas’s moves, neither side could distinguished itself from the other. The match ended 1-1.

For Toronto, it was their 11th draw of the year, one that saw newly acquired Bright Dike make his Reds debut. But it was also nothing different from what we’ve seen all year from Toronto. The team just can’t score enough goals to find the win column.

For Chicago, the result has to be a disappointment, particularly given they were up after 20 minutes. Unfortunately, they can’t really claim they deserved much better. Against one of the league’s struggling teams, they failed to show themselves better. As a result, they remain in seventh in the East.

You can see Duka’s 20th minute opener, above. Earnshaw’s 23rd minute response is here:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7hHzU4czE0]