The Crosstown Podcast: Copa América edition

On Friday, Juan Pimiento of The Man Uverse blog spent the evening at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch and caught the opening match of Copa América. The Chicago Fire hosted an epic watch party with approximately 2,000 U.S. and Colombian fans in attendance. (Here’s another photo gallery of the event.)

Before the game, Pimiento and I sat down to record the second edition of our Crosstown Podcast. We discussed Friday’s upcoming match between the U.S. and Colombia. In addition to Copa América, we touched base on the USWNT’s current financial situation (will they strike?), updates on the Chicago Fire, and the status of the Chicago Red Stars, as they USWNT prepare for the Olympics.

Until next time, stay up-to-date on the latest soccer news by following Pimiento and me on Twitter.

 

Is no news, good news?

It’s been quiet in the world of the Chicago Fire. They had their first week off from training last week for the first time since connecting with one another during preseason.  The players were happy to have this time off to recharge and many of them had the opportunity to visit with their families. Hopefully, the week of rest and relaxation will show in training this week, leading into their Open Cup match against Indy Eleven.

In other news…

Here I take a look at the ins and outs of the Fire over the last couple of weeks:

If you’re still not caught up with recent Chicago Fire news, Hot Time in Old Town takes a look at the first third of the 2016 season.

The middle third of their season starts on Wednesday, June 15 at Toyota Park when their road for the 2016 U.S. Open Cup begins.

 

 

The beautiful game in a beautiful city: A soccer lover’s guide to Chicago

U.S. Soccer recently announced that the USWNT will be playing a friendly in Chicago on July 9 against South Africa in preparation for the Olympics.

Several women’s soccer fans in the National Women’s Soccer League Supporters’ Facebook group have asked for recommendations on where to stay in Chicago and what to do while visiting. I put together a soccer-centric visitors guide that I hope that will be useful to those visiting Chicago in support of the beautiful game.

Exploring Chicago. Photo credit: Nicole Hack

Where to stay?

There are countless hotel options in Chicago and most of these will be close enough to the stadium that you can walk to the game. Here are a few fun, trendy hotel locations that I recommend:

If these hotels aren’t your cup of tea or within your budget, from hip to historic, there are plenty of other hotels to stay at while visiting.  Check out Travel + Leisure and Midwest Living for more options.

Neighborhoods:

Chicago is a big city, so you might not be sure what location best suits your needs. Here are recommended areas to stay in based on proximity to Soldier Field:

Continue reading “The beautiful game in a beautiful city: A soccer lover’s guide to Chicago”

A quick look at the 2016 Fire squad

With 12 games under their belt and the start of Copa America, the Chicago Fire took a week off from training. In addition to the rumors that Gilberto could be on his way out, here’s a quick look at the 2016 Chicago Fire, as they prepare for their next game against Indy Eleven in the U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday, June 15.

  More on  the Fire’s centerback position can be found at Chicago Fire Confidential.

Campbell and Joey Calistri (left) and Kappelhof (right) after the Fire’s win against Houston.
Photo credit: Annie Collins
  • Now that David Accam has returned from injury, the Fire have added their most dangerous attacking threat back to the starting eleven. Accam and Kennedy Igboananike have looked dangerous together in recent matches.  If their on-field chemistry continues, more goals scoring opportunities from these two are sure to come.
  • Coach Veljko Paunović has several options to use at center mid, and he’s certainly taken advantage of trying a variety of them there this season. My instinct is for Paunovic to start newly signed Khaly Thiam, Matt Polster, and Razvan Cocis in the center, while also keeping Joao Meira, Michael Stephens, and Arturo Alvarez as dependable options too.
    • As a recent signing, it would be wasteful not to start Thiam on a regular basis. His skillset and size could be an important factor for the Fire’s midfield line.
    • Many fans have been unhappy with Meira’s play this season. He seems more   comfortable playing in front of the backline rather than as a defender. However, with so many viable options to start at center mid, it will be a challenging position for Meira to crack on a regular basis.

Polster_AnnieCollins

Polster holding strong at center mid against the Portland Timbers.
Photo credit: Annie Collins
  • Sean Johnson or Matt Lampson? This question has lingered since the very beginning of the 2016 season for the Chicago Fire. Lampson has started nine games, and Johnson has started three.  My heart says Johnson, and stats certainly don’t lie.

 

The Chicago Fire celebrate the Copa América Centenario

Tonight the Chicago Fire hosted a party to kick off the Copa América Centenario at the PrivateBank Fire Pitch. The United States Men’s National Team faced Colombia in the opening match of the tournament that ended 2-0 in favor of the Colombians.

The USMNT may not have prevailed, but the watch party was a huge success with approximately 2,000 U.S. and Colombia fans in attendance.

Here’s a look at the festivities:

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Photo Credit: Joel Piktel and Nicole Hack

Chicago Fire vs. Indy Eleven: A Midwest Rivalry is Born

The Chicago Fire have won the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (USOC) four times (1998, 2000, 2003, 2006) since joining Major League Soccer in 1998, and they’ve been the runner-up twice (2004, 2011). They’ve even been known as Kings of the Cup.

On Wednesday, Indy Eleven defeated Louisville City FC 2-1 to move onto the fourth round of the USOC play. This is their third appearance in the USOC tournament and their second time playing in the fourth round. This time around, Indy will meet the Chicago Fire on June 15 at Toyota Park.

Indy and Chicago have only met once before in a friendly match on April 1, 2014, where the Fire won 3-1.  This made the Chicago Fire as inaugural champions of the Schlabst Cup – the Schlabst Cup was born due to Peter Wilt’s (more on Wilt below) invention of Schlabst, best known as Milwaukee’s black and tan – a combination of Schlitz beer and Pabst Blue Ribbon.

Section 8 Chicago cheering the Chicago Fire on in the Fire’s first meeting with Indy Eleven in Indiana in 2014. Photo credit: Section 8 Chicago

It may not sound like these two teams have a lot in common, but they do. Indy Eleven and Chicago Fire have several connections that make this matchup an exciting one. I asked a few key participants some questions about the upcoming matchup. Let’s take a look at what they had to say…

Continue reading “Chicago Fire vs. Indy Eleven: A Midwest Rivalry is Born”

So long, Gilberto 👋

Rumors are in. Is Gilberto leaving the Chicago Fire?

Gilberto, who was claimed off waivers from Toronto FC on July 27, 2015, has not scored any goals for the Fire in the first 12 matches of the 2016 season. As one of three designated players on the Fire’s roster, the lack of goal-scoring is a serious problem. Several sources report that Gilberto asked to take a personal leave before the Chicago Fire’s last home game against the Portland Timbers.

 

Gilberto-Suzanne2
Gilberto after a foul in Chicago Fire’s 3-1 win over New Englad Revolution on October 3, 2015. Photo Credit: Suzanne M. Ryan

 

Here’s what the media is saying:

Continue reading “So long, Gilberto 👋”