Expect the Fire to field a strong side against USL-Pro's Pittsburgh Riverhounds. The visitors feature former Fire bust Collins John and ex-MLS players Joseph Ngwenya and Danny Earls but they currently sit at the bottom of the USL table with a 1-7-5 record. Frank Yallop will have a full squad at his disposal with the exception of Patrick Nyarko and Gonzalo Segares, who both underwent surgery to remove bone spurs in their ankles over the last few weeks.
As 2013 came to a close with a flurry of activity expect 2014 to start with another busy few weeks of Fire related news. As Frank Yallop wrapped his first two months on the job decisions needed to be made on player options ahead of the Re-Entry Draft. Chris Rolfe was re-signed after initially having his option declined, Daniel Paladini was traded to Columbus, Lovel Palmer was acquired, and CJ Brown was added to the coaching staff as Yallop's first assistant.
He might be best remembered as the guy the who missed the deciding penalty kick to give Sporting Kansas City the MLS Cup last Saturday but the Fire acquired a solid role player in Lovel Palmer today. The well traveled Jamaican defender can play right back and holding midfield and should pose some competition for Jalil Anibaba.
An active Re-Entry Draft day didn't see the Fire select anyone available but they were involved in other dealings. If you follow Fire Confidential on twitter you knew earlier today that Daniel Paladini was on the move but now the Fire have made it official. Paladini has been traded to Columbus for a fourth round draft selection.
Ahead of Thursday's first round of the annual Re-Entry Draft the Fire have announced that 10 player options have been exercised and another 8 have been declined. The players who may be on the move include Mike Videira, Corben Bone, Joel Lindpere, Daniel Paladini, Logan Pause, Kellen Gulley, Chris Rolfe, and Maicon Santos although Frank Yallop has left the door open for some to return.
Veteran defender Kevin Alston was one of nine players across the league who opted out of Stage 1 of the Re-Entry Process prior to its start at 3pm on Thursday.
In addition to Alston, Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Mike Chabala (Houston), Yordany Alvarez (Real Salt Lake), Daniel Paladini (Chicago), Andre Akpan (New York), Josh Ford (Seattle), Bobby Convey (Toronto FC) and Tommy Heinemann (Vancouver) all pulled out of Thursday's proceedings.
Quarterfinals, here we come! (image: chicago-fire.com)
OTF Editor Scott Fenwick was on hand at Toyota Park (twice) to witness the unfolding of another Fire victory over Columbus...
The Massive City Columbus supporters group dubbed it the "Derecho Cup" on Wednesday night, although the storm that swept across Northern Illinois didn't quite live up to expectations once it reached Bridgeview.
OTF contributor Daniel Casey editorializes on the Fire's 1-2 loss in Houston on Sunday afternoon.
The Houston Dynamo is not a team that loses at home. It's seems they have never been...well, at least, they haven't lost at home since July 2011. Although this puts a target on the Dynamo when opponents come into town, it has also created a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
After defeating the New York Red Bulls last weekend, April is already turning out to be a better month for the Chicago Fire than March. The Fire played their best game of this young MLS season and were able to triple their goal output for the season by winning against New York 3-1. Logan Pause came back from injury to anchor the midfield and Joel Lindpere played his best game as a Fire player after being slotted on the wing in place of Dilly Duka who was still out due to injury.
The Chicago Fire finally managed to get their first win of the season. These three points that the team earned on Sunday lifts them out of last place in the conference thanks to goals for now being the tie breaker in the standings. Matter of fact, the Fire managed to score just as many goals in Sunday's game as the two teams below them (New England and DC United) have scored all season combined.
Your weekly gut check on the state of the Fire from OTF's writers and contributors...
Chicago Fire earned its first win this season with three goals against a lackluster RBNY side last Sunday. Beginning this Sunday however, they must face three of the top four Eastern Conference teams (Houston, Columbus, Montreal) in a thirteen day span.
BRIDGEVIEW --- Getting his first MLS start Sunday afternoon, second-year defender Hunter Jumper made a smooth transition into the side -- and put in a solid performance to boot.
Coming in for the injured Gonzalo Segares -- a late scratch after picking up a right hamstring injury Friday -- Jumper slotted in at left back and assisted the Chicago Fire's opening goal in the 3-1 victory over New York.
The Chicago Fire were trailing as the final minutes ticked away in the first half of Sunday's match vs. the New York Red Bulls, and might have found it too tough a road to come back if they headed into the locker room trailing at halftime, but Daniel Paladini was determined to chance Chicago's fortunes and did just that.
BRIDGEVIEW - Struggling to find the back of the net through the first four fixtures of the 2013 MLS season, the Chicago Fire put three past the visiting New York Red Bulls to earn the team's first win of the season with a 3-1 victory Sunday afternoon.
A first half equalizer from Daniel Paladini and a second half brace from Maicon Santos helped give the Fire (1-3-1, 4 points) their first win of the season after falling behind in the 17th minute following a Jamison Olave volley.
As we look forward to the end of the offseason and to the start of preseason, we have to wonder what is going through the head of head coach Frank Klopas. What kind of moves will he make? What kind of formations and tactics will he employ throughout the 2013 season? These are the 2 major questions in my mind that I will delve into and try to answer for you.
Last year I looked into the concept of 'Carryover Minutes' and their relationship to success in Major League Soccer. I define carryover minutes as minutes that come from a player that was on a team the previous year. For example, the Chicago Fire received carryover minutes last night from Sean Johnson, Jalil Anibaba, Gonzalo Segares, Logan Pause, Patrick Nyarko, Dominic Oduro, and Daniel Paladini.
A sellout crowd of 20,042 at Toyota Park saw Liga MX champion Club America defeat the Fire 3-2 in a pretty entertaining affair as these mid-season international friendlies go. A wide open first half ended in a 1-1 score after Daniel Paladini put the Fire ahead initially with a pretty chest trap and volley following a pass from Maicon Santos in the 19th minute.
Things looked bleak in the 58th minute after Ben Zemanski gave Portland a 2-0 lead but the Fire showed some resolve and some heart in battling back against one of the better teams in the league this season. The first 15-20 minutes of the match featured some exciting moments on both ends of the pitch.
Take a second to exhale. The Fire earned their first victory of the season with a 3-1 decision over the New York Red Bulls at Toyota Park. Things weren't looking good midway through the first half after the visitors grabbed a lead in the 17th minute despite the Fire controlling most of the play up to that point.
It wasn't pretty but the Fire managed to overcome an overwhelming Sporting Kansas City advantage in the stat line to cling to a 0-0 draw and earn their first point of the 2013 season. Frank Klopas' game plan was defensive and cautious and it worked well enough to get a result in a difficult place to play.