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.
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.
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:
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 holding strong at center mid against the Portland Timbers.
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.
From the USWNT to Rumi Utsugi, from the Red Stars to equal pay — here’s the latest news on the world of women’s soccer.
USA vs. Japan
Over the last week, the USWNT played Japan in two intense friendlies. The first match ended in a 3-3 draw, and today the U.S. won 2-0 after the game was called due to severe weather in the 76th minute. Take a look back at the games and the key notes from this competitive matchup:
Excelle Sports: Ali Krieger’s going to feel that storm the most— Krieger’s still outside looking in on a starting back four spot with Jill Ellis, and not getting another fifteen minutes to prove her worth has to sting. In the meantime, there’s still Washington Spirit matches, but it’s not the same as coming in off the bench and making an immediate mark on the game.
Once A Metro: The formation was advertised as a 4-3-3 with Morgan as the lone striker with Heath and Dunn on the wings, but Press tended to press up higher, converting the formation into more of a 4-2-2 with Morgan and Press up top. Press was an integral part of the attack and created several opportunities in the U.S.’s final third, but the game was called before she could score a goal.
Last Word on Sports: This relatively young squad believes this was a game and experience that will help better prepare them for the Olympics. “Everything that we’re doing right now is to prepare us for the Olympic Games,” Ellis said about moving forward beyond the match. “We learned a valuable lesson. Unfortunately, it is a tough lesson, but if it helps us down in Brazil, I’ll take it.”
The Equalizer: Press had several opportunities in only her fourth start of the year. Her right-footed shot in the opening minute of the match went off the face of Yamane. Press also put an early second-half opportunity wide of the frame from 20 yards out after Tobin Heath played Press into space.
Equal Pay. Equal Play.
The U.S. women are still battling for equal pay.
Keeper Notes: Going on strike is about exerting the maximum amount of economic pressure on your employer to get them to capitulate to the employment terms and conditions you desire. The USWNT’s best time to strike since 2005 was this last year when the USWNT were coming off all the fame and notoriety that went with being World Cup Champions. However, a strike also has to have an economic impact that is felt by the employer. The Olympics are set this summer in Brazil and a strike would leave the USWNT without its best players before one of it’s two most important tournaments.
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…