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.


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 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.


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 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 👋”

Get to know Jeff Krause – Fire fan and writer

Thanks to Twitter I’ve been fortunate to connect with countless fans of the Chicago Fire that I may have never met otherwise. Jeff Krause is one of those fans. A few years ago Krause and I connected on Twitter over the Chicago Fire and the Chicago Red Stars. Since then we’ve gotten to know one another at Section 8 Chicago tailgates and Fire watch parties.

Not only is Krause a Fire fan, he is also a freelance writer, who is best known for his contribution to Chicagoland Soccer News and Fire Confidential Live covering the Chicago Fire.

I appreciate Krause taking the time to talk about his experience as a soccer blogger. I hope you enjoy getting to know him as much as I did.

JeffKrause (1)
Photo credit: Jeff Krause

Your Twitter bio says that you are a freelance writer – When did you start freelancing and what inspired you to do so?

JK: As far as specifically freelance writing, I really only started doing so in the last year. Up to that point, all my previous writing was through another site, however doing so has afforded me the opportunity to contract out some work as a writer, which is when I added “freelance” to my writing resume.

You have been contributing at Chicagoland Soccer News – Who else have you freelanced for, and are there any other blogs/sites that you contribute to?

JK: I occasionally contribute to Chicago Fire Confidential, which is part of the Chicago Tribune and is run by Guillermo Rivera. (Read CF97 Sirens’ interview with Fire Confidential’s Rivera from May 17.) I’ve recently done work for US Soccer and Copa America, and I have written for Total MLS, Soccer by Ives, Chicago Fire Soccer Club, and in the past.

Chicagoland Soccer News logo

A few of Krause’s contributions:

Continue reading “Get to know Jeff Krause – Fire fan and writer”

Meet the Man Behind Fire Confidential: Guillermo Rivera

In 2009, I had the opportunity to cover the Chicago Red Stars at Chicago Tribune’s ChicagoNow – an online blogging community. Because of my affiliation with ChicagoNow, I also started following Fire Confidential, a blog covering the Chicago Fire at the same blogging community, Over the years, Fire Confidential has become one of the most credible sources for Fire news, thanks to the hard work and dedication of Guillermo Rivera.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Rivera. I hope you enjoy getting to know the man behind Fire Confidential as much as I did.

Fire Confidential
Graphic: Nicole Hack | Logos: Fire Confidential

When did you first start Fire Confidential?

GR: Fire Confidential was started in 2009 as part of Chicago Tribune’s ChicagoNow blogging community. The Fire Confidential blog essentially replaced the Tribune’s “Red Card” blog, which was written by their last full-time soccer reporter, Luis Arroyave. Luis was reassigned to the Entertainment and Nightlife beat and the Trib decided not to replace him with a full-time soccer reporter. The original Fire Confidential writer was Sam Stejskal, who is now a contributor at I commented more frequently than other commenters on both blogs and began interaction with Sam via Fire Confidential.

What motivated you to start Fire Confidential?

GR: I didn’t technically “start” it, although the content is somewhat different than it originally was presented. Early in 2010, Sam received and accepted an offer to begin covering the Fire for This left a void and the Trib/ChicagoNow apparently had no one in mind to replace him. I felt that there wasn’t any other outlet available to Fire fans for actual coverage of the club and didn’t want the work that Luis and Sam put into reporting go to waste. I felt that “real”, daily Fire coverage was about to disappear, and I didn’t want that to happen.

I had an idea in mind of how the blog should be presented. I thought that there should be an outlet that covered and discussed the Fire in the same manner that all other major sports teams in the city were handled. It didn’t exist anywhere else in this market. Although the Sun-Times and Daily Herald had reporters assigned to the team – space and coverage was still limited.

I reached out to Sam and he put me in touch with ChicagoNow’s community manager, Jimmy Greenfield, and I pitched him my idea. He was more than happy to find someone who seemed passionate about covering the team, especially at the rates that were being offered, and he handed me the keys to the blog in April of 2010. My motivation for taking over Fire Confidential was based almost entirely on my feeling and desire to keep Fire discussion alive in someplace more mainstream than message boards like BigSoccer.

Continue reading “Meet the Man Behind Fire Confidential: Guillermo Rivera”

Fire Links: 6,392 Miles Edition

Long distance travel for Fire

The Chicago Fire are in the middle of a long away game stretch, they have four games in 11 days, three of these games are on the road. Unfortunately, for the Men in Red, they’ve already lost these first two games and will now face New York Red Bulls on Wednesday.

With a strenuous away game schedule, Kennedy Igboananike chatted with Red Nation about the challenges of long-distance travel in MLS. He also talked with the Chicago Fire and discussed what he likes to do on long flights, but most importantly, he shared his secret on how he learned to backflip.

Fire May

Chicago Fire 1 – 2 Vancouver Whitecaps

Going into the Fire’s game on Wednesday, May 11, Fire Confidential examined Gilberto’s lack of production. It seems that even with a new coaching staff that the Chicago Fire are facing the same offensive challenges that they did in 2015.

Continue reading “Fire Links: 6,392 Miles Edition”