The Fire Beat the NE Revolution 2-0 and advances 3-2 on aggregate, Bring on Real Salt Lake!
The Fire Beat the NE Revolution 2-0 and advances 3-2 on aggregate, Bring on Real Salt Lake!
Blanco, Thorrington lead Fire past Revs
Chicago disposes of rivals New England at sold out Toyota Park
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- John Thorrington and Cuauhtemoc Blanco proved to be a winning combination for the Chicago Fire Saturday night, each tallying to give them a 2-0 victory against the New England Revolution and a trip to the Eastern Conference Championship. Down by a goal on aggregate after last weekend's first leg, the Fire needed to win by at least two goals to advance to the conference final. Thorrington side-footed home a shot from inside the penalty area in the 35th minute to level the semifinal series, then Blanco scored with six minutes left to send the sellout crowd at Toyota Park into mass celebration.
Chicago will play host to Real Salt Lake in the Eastern Conference Championship, Saturday, Nov. 14 at 8 p.m. ET.
It didn't take long for the Fire to get started as they tried to overturn the deficit. In the 10th minute Blanco crossed a perfect ball to Chris Rolfe in the box. Revolution defender Kevin Alston cleared the ball for a Fire throw-in, and Marco Pappa then sent a weak attempt toward goal, which was easily scooped up by New England goalkeeper Matt Reis.
Two minutes later, the Fire made another push, when Blanco made a run toward goal. Thorrington, who had not seen action since Aug. 18, was running just behind Blanco and picked up the ball after it was poked away by a defender but rocketed a shot wide left.
In the 18th minute, Kenny Mansally knocked Blanco to the ground, earning a yellow card after a discussion by the referees and both teams. Pappa bent a free kick into the center of the box, where Reis grabbed it for the save.
New England regained some momentum in the 22nd minute, when striker Edgarus Jankauskas fired a shot that clanged off the crossbar. Fire defender C.J. Brown eventually cleared the ball out of the box.
In the 33rd minute Brian McBride headed an attempt wide right, then two minutes later, the Fire took the lead.
After Blanco held off a defender on the right, he pushed the ball to Fire defender Brandon Prideaux, who forwarded it to Pappa in the box. Pappa cut inside Revolution defender Emmanuel Osei and poked the ball back into an opening. Thorrington curled it into the left side netting for a 1-0 Fire lead.
McBride was at the front end of the Fire attack, and hit the pitch in the 52nd minute after yet another clash with Reis and struggled to return to play. McBride hobbled for four minutes more until being escorted off the field and Patrick Nyarko replaced him in the lineup.
Chicago almost doubled its lead in the 60th minute, when a Blanco cross caused confusion in the box. Fire defender Dasan Robinson headed the attempt toward an empty net as Reis failed to claim the ball, but Revs defender Shalrie Joseph was there to head it off the line and out of harm's way.
An odd moment occurred in the 69th minute when Revolution substitute Mauricio Castro appeared to have been sent off, firing the ball into the bench area as he left the field. As it turned out, he was sent to the locker room to apparently deal with a bloody cut, and after playing a man down a few minutes, Wells Thompson came in for the Honduran.
The Fire continued to press forward to try and grab the second goal and avoid an overtime session. Pappa blasted a shot at goal in the 72nd minute, which Reis blocked for a Fire corner kick.
In the 80th minute, Nyarko crossed the ball into the box. Blanco dodged defenders, cut to his right foot and blasted an attempt toward goal. It skimmed off the top of the crossbar and over.
Two minutes later, Nyarko crossed the ball in again. Thorrington slid into the box, but knocked it wide left. Then Rolfe shot an attempt toward goal. Reis dove to stop the attempt and almost lost the ball, but was able to scramble back to cover up.
Then in the 83rd minute, the Fire were finally able to break through. Rolfe sent a long ball to the right corner, and Nyarko was able to fend off Osei and come away with the ball. Nyarko cut along the endline and poked the ball to Blanco in the box. The Mexican international controlled the ball, holding it as Reis came out to challenge him, and sent the ball over Reis, between two defenders and into the net for a 2-0 Fire lead.
The Revolution had one final salvo. Mansally curled in a cross from the right side and Pat Phelan, a late substitute, smacked a header that looked like it would settle inside Jon Busch's left-hand post, but the ball flashed just wide.
After five minutes of stoppage time, with the crowd noise intensifying with every minute, the Fire defense pulled back together and withstood the final Revolution charges for the victory.
Fire follow game plan into conference final
Chicago stays composed to knock out Revs for second straight year
RIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Prior to Saturday's Eastern Conference Semifinal Series second leg against the New England Revolution, the Chicago Fire had a game plan -- to stay focused and composed. They did just that, added some fresh legs and earned a 2-0 win. The Fire were down 2-1 on aggregate after last weekend's first leg loss in New England. The 2-0 win, capped by Cuauhtemoc Blanco's goal six minutes from the end, gave the Fire the 3-2 aggregate win and sent them into the Eastern Conference Championship.
"We were smart," Fire defender C.J. Brown said. "We didn't race out and force the goal. We knew we'd get our chances. Everybody defended. We settled the game down and got in the attacking third. We stuck to our game plan and got a result."
Chicago dominated offensively on the night, taking 21 shots (13 on goal) to New England's 12 (four on goal). Once Chicago got into a rhythm, they limited the Revolution's chances. Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis had his hands full with 10 saves on the night.
"Our guys were so focused," Fire head coach Denis Hamlett said. "It was a special night. We had a full house. Our guys knew what was at stake. Everyone had a great game. Tonight, we took care of business."
Chicago took a 1-0 lead into the half, after John Thorrington netted his first goal of the season, in the 35th minute. Yet when Brian McBride hit the ground in the 52nd minute, it looked as if they were in trouble.
But Patrick Nyarko entered the match in the 56th minute for the veteran and brought a whole new energy. That energy resulted in the series-winning goal, when Nyarko fed Blanco after winning the ball in the corner and the Mexican international lifted the ball into the net.
"It was a great performance by everybody tonight," McBride said. "It showed that when we stick together, we get a big result."
It wasn't an easy win for the Fire. At times, the physical match became a bit much. Two players left the field with injuries -- McBride with a stiff knee and New England's Mauricio Castro with a bloody cut on his arm. The Fire stayed composed, fouling the Revolution just eight times, compared to 16 for New England. The Revolution were also booked three times by referee Alex Prus.
After going ahead of the series, New England had a few close calls as they tried to save their season. Fire goalkeeper Jon Busch made two saves, while a header from Pat Phelan went just wide right in the 90th minute.
"We made some big plays at the end," Hamlett said. "It was a really good effort by everyone."
For the third consecutive year and fourth time in the last five years, the Fire earned a trip to the Eastern Conference Championship. Only this time, they'll host it, after playing on the road in each of the last three (and losing each one). The Fire will welcome Real Salt Lake to Toyota Park on Saturday, Nov. 14.
"Our goal tonight was to make sure we get a win and earn another game," Thorrington said. "We did that. Real Salt Lake is a tough team. We're focused on them now."
I think weve finally turned a corner, beating NE 2 years in a row! :D
Its been an amazing match so far!
Fire fall to Real Salt Lake on penalties
Chicago's MLS Cup quest ends after thrilling Eastern Conference Championship
BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Real Salt Lake beat the Chicago Fire 5-4 on penalty kicks after a scoreless 120 minutes Saturday to advance to the MLS Cup Nov. 22 in Seattle against the Los Angeles Galaxy. It was the second defeat for the Fire this year in a penalty shootout. The Fire also lost the SuperLiga title this year on penalty kicks, 4-3, against Tigres UANL of the Mexican Primera Division.
The Fire scored on penalties by Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Brian McBride, Wilman Conde and C.J. Brown, but John Thorrington's shot was blocked. Real Salt Lake got goals from Clint Mathis, Robbie Findley, Kyle Beckerman and Will Johnson but Javier Morales's shot went high.
The competition went into extra penalty kicks and Logan Pause was blocked by Rimando while Fabian Espindola went high for Real Salt Lake. Brandon Prideaux's shot for the Fire was blocked, but late overtime substitute Ned Grabavoy of Real Salt Lake put his shot past Fire 'keeper Jon Busch, who got a hand on the ball but could not stop the shot.
Fire coach Denis Hamlett stayed with the group that got him to the Eastern Conference final Saturday, even though regular starting defender Wilman Conde was well enough to be listed as an available substitute for the game.
So the Fire back line, which has been been unsettled since July due to injuries and transfers, included Brandon Prideaux on the right, Brown and Dasan Robinson in the middle and Daniel Woolard on the left. Former starters Gonzalo Segares and Tim Ward remained out due to injury.
It took 15 minutes Saturday for the teams to feel each other out, but the last 30 minutes of the scoreless first half were active, with scoring threats by both teams.
Real Salt Lake had a scoring chance in the 17th minute when they put together three good touches to get the ball to Robbie Findley on a dead run at Busch, but Findley's final touch went right at Busch and out.
In the 27th minute, Blanco had a corner from left of goal that McBride put a head on from the near post. His header hit the crossbar and bounced out just as Brown was sliding in to put a touch on the ball.
Jamison Olave had a shot at Busch in the 35th minute off a corner kick but Busch made the save. In the 43rd minute, RSL's Morales dribbled the ball past Brown right of goal into the box and Busch punched the shot out of the way.
RSL had two more shots late in the first half. Morales had a shot from the top of the box go wide right, and Yura Movsisyan battled Brown for the ball bouncing in the box and was about 3 yards away from Busch when he fired the ball right at the Fire 'keeper.
Through the first 15 minutes of the second half, there were several shots on goal but none effective. In the 64th minute, the Fire got a good chance when Marco Pappa fired from on top of the box but Rimando deflected it out to his left.
Real Salt Lake played far more effective combinations in the game, but the Fire put a decent one together in the 82nd minute, with Prideaux sending the ball from right to left to McBride in the box 15 yards out. McBride laid the ball off to Chris Rolfe at the center of the box but his bullet shot went wide left.
The final 10 minutes of the half were played as if Real Salt Lake was playing for overtime and the Fire were trying to avoid it. The Fire made several offensive charges but could not complete the final necessary pass on most runs.
Real Salt Lake had a scoring chance in the final minute of stoppage time. With smoke from a smoke bomb in the stands engulfing the Fire goal, Findley put a header off a corner kick to the right corner but Busch pushed it out for the final save of the regulation game.
In the 16th minute of overtime, Real Salt Lake defender Robbie Russell took a chance with a long ball from 35 yards out way right of the goal. Busch caught the ball above his head.
Late in overtime, a flurry of very physical play put Chris Wingert of Real Salt Lake and substitute Patrick Nyarko of the Fire on the ground, but Nyarko left the game with a severe facial injury. Nyarko returned in a blank jersey minutes later.
Celebrating MLS, a world away
Troops in Afghanistan show Chicago Fire pride in midst of MLS Cup Playoffs
Soldiers deployed to foreign locations are urged to pack only essential items and leave non-essential items at home. So how did Capt. Michael McAlinden of the U.S. Marine Corps end up with a Chicago Fire flag while serving in Afghanistan?
It came to him in a care package from home, and he proudly displayed the flag for a photograph with mates from N Battery, 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines, while in the Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan. He then sent the photo home to his father, Kevin McAlinden, who then sent it on to John Dorn, Michael's former soccer coach who now works in player development for the Fire.
But Capt. McAlinden wants you to know he is not surrounded by Chicago Fire fans in the photograph.
"Most of them are Hispanic, from southern California," McAlinden said Tuesday from California, after returning Stateside last weekend. "They are MLS fans, split between the Galaxy and Chivas USA. But I outrank most of them, so I got them in the photo."
The McAlinden family are from the Beverly neighborhood in Chicago and are Fire season ticket holders. Michael played soccer at Brother Rice High School for Dorn.
McAlinden graduated from Quincy College in Illinois, then went to USMC Officer Training School in Quantico, Va. This is his second deployment, following a previous deployment to Iraq.
McAlinden said he kept up with the Fire's progress in Saturday's playoff win against the New England Revolution through his father, connecting with him using a satellite telephone.
"It's supposed to be used for emergencies only, but this was an emergency," McAlinden said.
Fire pick up options on McBride, Brown
"Fire Original" Brown, Chicagoland native McBride to return for 2010 MLS season
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Fire announced Wednesday that the club has picked up the options for defender C.J. Brown and forward Brian McBride. McBride, a Chicagoland native and international soccer star, joined the club in August of 2007 and helped lead the Fire to the Eastern Conference Final in both 2008 and 2009. In 2009, McBride was honored as the Fire MVP and earned the 2009 Budweiser Golden Boot award for his seven goals through the regular season. A "Fire Original", Brown has been a member of the club since its inaugural season in 1998, helping the team to five domestic championships through 12 seasons of play. "We are pleased to have both Brian and C.J. back with the team for 2010," said Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas. "McBride is a force on the field and his experience is unmatched by many in MLS. He will play another invaluable role for us in 2010. C.J.'s contributions in 2009 were key in helping us to reach the Eastern Conference Championship Final this season. We need them both back on the pitch to help lead us toward a MLS Cup championship."
One of the most decorated players in United States soccer history, Chicagoland native, Brian McBride joined the Fire in August of 2008 after a successful four and a half seasons in Europe with Fulham FC where he made 154 career appearances and scored 40 goals and earning Player of the Year in 2006 and 2006. The St. Louis University product made an immediate impact for the Fire contributing five regular season goals and two assist through 11 games played in 2008, as well as tallying the Fire's lone goal in the 2-1 Eastern Conference Final loss at Columbus. McBride kicked off his first full season with the Fire with a bang as he scored six goals through the first 16 games of 2009 season, before undergoing surgery on his right shoulder for a labral tear in July. While the doctors anticipated a 3-4 month recovery time, the veteran returned to play just eight weeks later and immediately continued to contribute to the Fire attack with an assist on the club's match against Columbus on Sept. 20th and a game-tying goal on Sept. 26th against Toronto FC. Despite missing eight games due to his shoulder surgery, McBride scored seven goals in 22 games to capture the 2009 Chicago Fire Budweiser Golden Boot award, as well as earn 2009 Chicago Fire MVP honors for his contributions to the squad throughout the season. McBride began his MLS career in 1996 as the first overall pick in the league's inaugural draft, being selected by the Columbus Crew. McBride played eight season with Columbus recording 62 goals and 45 assists with the club before moving on to play oversees in 2003. McBride has appeared in three separate World Cups for the U.S. Men's National Team while earning 95 caps for the USA across all international competition. In 2008, McBride served as captain of the U.S. Olympic Team at the Games of the XXIX Olympiad in China.
Brown, who will return to the club for his 13th season in 2010, has been a member of the Fire since its inaugural season in 1998, has played an integral part in all five of the Fire's domestic Cup titles (MLS Cup '98 and the 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2006 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cups), three conference crowns, and helped the club earn the 2003 MLS Supporters Shield honor. Last season, Brown appeared in 18 regular season games while playing every minute in the team's postseason run to the 2009 Eastern Conference Final. Brown currently holds the club record for games (270) and minutes played (23,398). The California Bay Area native has competed at the highest level for both club and country during his career having earned 15 caps with the U.S. Men's National Team from 1998-2003. The 2001 MLS All-Star selection has been an inspiration off the field as well, winning the 2001, 2002, and 2003 Fire/USSF Humanitarian of the Year awards for his efforts in the Chicagoland community.
While the team will open 2010 play on the road at Red Bull Arena on March 27, the Chicago Fire will host 2010 Opening Day at TOYOTA PARK on April 10, 2010 when they face the San Jose Earthquakes. To purchase tickets please call 1-888-MLS-Fire or visit www.chicago-fire.com.
Chicago Fire: News: De los Cobos named as Fire head coach
De los Cobos named as Fire head coach
Former head coach of El Salvador national team and Mexico's Club América named Fire's fifth head coach on brink of club's 13th season
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Fire Soccer Club today announced that the club has appointed Carlos de los Cobos as new head coach. De los Cobos brings more than 30 years of soccer experience-both as a professional soccer player and coach-throughout Mexico and Central América. He has played for and coached some of Mexico's most prestigious teams, including Club América, UANL Tigres and Monterrey. He becomes the fifth head coach for the Fire as it enters its thirteenth season in 2010. De los Cobos, 51 years of age, was most recently head coach of the El Salvador national team, a post he held from 2006-2009. During this time, the team managed to reach the last phase of the CONCACAF's qualifying stage (the Hexagonal) at the 2010 World Cup Qualifiers for the first time in 12 years. De los Cobos is credited with changing the international perception of El Salvadoran soccer during his nearly four years with the club, along with reviving a national sentiment of pride. He also coached Club América of the Mexican Primera Division. In addition, de los Cobos played for Club América as a defender, as well as for Querétaro FC and CF Monterrey.
"The Fire's priority in the head coach search was to identify someone with a love for the game and a track record of quality results. Carlos' extensive soccer knowledge, experience and success as both a coach and player made him an ideal candidate, and we're excited he has decided to join the Fire family," said Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas. "Our owner is especially committed to not just maintain our club's history of tradition, honor and passion but to build on it, and I know that Carlos fully embraces this philosophy. He will provide the veteran leadership the club needs, while also offering the passion that will fuel a winning spirit on- and off-the-pitch. We truly believe he has the passion and enthusiasm to inspire both our fans and our players, and that he will help us bring an MLS Cup back to Chicago."
"I'm thrilled about the opportunity to coach the Chicago Fire, and I appreciate the generous support of Frank Klopas and Mr. Hauptman and the entire Fire organization. This is a club whose owner, players and fans have the kind of passion for the game that rivals many I've worked with in Mexico. It's truly the kind of environment I thrive in," said de los Cobos. "Coaching a team in Major League Soccer, which is the most exciting and emerging league in all professional soccer, in a vibrant city like Chicago, was truly an opportunity I could not pass up. I'm going to work everyday to bring an MLS Cup back to this great club and their passionate fans."
De los Cobos was introduced as the new Fire head coach today at a press conference at the home of the Chicago Fire, TOYOTA PARK. Terms of the contract were not disclosed. The Fire's head coach search included several candidates from three continents, as well as from within Major League Soccer (MLS).
"Carlos will be a tremendous asset to the Fire on every level," Fire President Dave Greeley added. "The Fire organization is fully focused on creating a quality experience for our fans, including a winning and passionate style of play and Carlos will be a significant contributor to that goal in 2010."
Prior to his most recent position, De los Cobos has managed seven teams in his native country of Mexico from 1993-2004, including the Olympic Mexican team as well as the U-21 and U-23 national teams. He has also served several times as the assistant head coach of the Senior Mexican national team. De los Cobos began his coaching career in the same year as his last year as a player, taking command of Querétaro FC from 1993-1994. In 1994, he spent a short period with Club Pachuca in Mexico's Primera División "A" (second division) before crossing cities to coach UANL Tigres for two years (1994-1995).
In 1996, de los Cobos was assigned as the assistant coach of the Mexican national team that won the CONCACAF's 1996 Gold Cup, defeating Brazil, 2-0, before taking over the 1996 Olympic Mexican squad's direction that included players like Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Jorge Campos, Oswaldo Sanchez, Claudio Suarez, and Luis García. Later that year, de los Cobos was named head coach of Mexico's giant Club América.
In 2000-2001 de los Cobos continued his club-coaching career in CF Celaya before he was designated to coach the U-23 national team coach in 2002. He led the Mexican squad to a second-place finish in the 2002 Central American and Caribbean games in San Salvador, El Salvador. After another silver medal achievement, he would eventually manage three clubs from 2003-2004 including Deportivo Irapuato, Querétaro FC and Lobos de UAP. In 2005-2006, de los Cobos managed El Salvador's powerhouse club CD FAS for a tournament, finishing as runner-ups of the Clausura 2006 with a 7-5-9 overall record.
De los Cobos' playing career spanned a total of 17 years including a winning stint with Club América of the Mexican Primera Division. He made his debut with Querétaro FC, from the Segunda División, in 1977. After spending two seasons with Querétaro, de los Cobos moved to América, where he spent a season with the reserves before being promoted to the first squad as a defender from 1979-1989 where he anchored the defense to win five league titles. After a successful time with América, he would spend time with two different clubs from 1989-1994 before retiring. He spent two stints with C.F. Monterrey, one from 1989-1991 and the other one from 1992-1993, where he led the team to a second-place finish; and two stints with Querétaro FC: one from 1991-1992 and one from 1993-1994 to end his vast playing career.
In addition, de los Cobos represented the Senior Mexican National team, where he accumulated 25 caps from 1983 to 1986, appearing in the 1986 World Cup. He played an integral role as the team reached the quarter final stage (the farthest that Mexico has ever advanced in the country's history along with 1970) before being defeated by then West Germany in a penalty shootout, 4-1.
With the 1986 Mexican squad, de los Cobos played alongside notable figures including current Mexican National team coach Javier Aguirre, Alfredo Tena and Hugo Sánchez.
The Chicago Fire have made it to the MLS playoffs in 11 of 12 seasons of play, including 2008 and 2009, where the club fell short of the MLS Cup Championship by one game, losing to the 2009 MLS Cup champs Real Salt Lake in penalty kicks before a sold-out crowd at TOYOTA PARK in the Eastern Conference Championship.
Chicago Fire: News: Fire trialist path to Chicago quite unusual
Fire trialist path to Chicago quite unusual Collins John comes from a number of European clubs
McCook, IL -- Fire trialist Collins John's path to Chicago has not been the norm. After beginning his career with Dutch side FC Twente in 2002, John was purchased by Fulham FC of the English Premiership in January 2004, coincidentally during the same transfer window that saw current Fire striker Brian McBride join the club from the Columbus Crew. At physical day on Monday at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, John saw the same familiar face that he'd teamed up with in West London.
"I was very happy to see the big man," said John. "I was looking forward to training with him again, when I saw him on Monday, I gave him a cuddle."
Touted early in his career as a serious prospect within the famed Dutch youth system, the Liberian-born striker began his trial with the Fire this week, looking to bring stability to a career that has seen the ex-Cottager play for five clubs in as many years.
After tallying 11 goals in 35 matches with FC Twente from 2002-2004, Fulham boss Chris Coleman paid a reported £600,000 for the 19-year-old striker in the January 2004 transfer window. Taking half a season to settle in at Fulham, John found his stride with the club the next two seasons, appearing in 62 league matches while tallying 15 goals. Often times it was the young Dutchman beating the American veteran of two World Cups into the Fulham starting 11.
Following a drop in form and a string of bad results that saw Fulham nearly relegated in 2007, John began a series of loan spells during the 2007-08 campaign. He first ventured to Championship sides Leicester City and Watford FC, before a short return to his homeland with NEC Nijmegen. Most recently the former Dutch youth international spent the beginning of the 2009-10 season with KSV Rosalare in neighboring Belgium, but abruptly left the club in December after making nine appearances.
On the second day of 2010 preseason training, John looked sharp, yet relaxed, with the approach of making the strongest impression on new Fire boss Carlos de los Cobos.
"Carlos is very good, you can tell he has a strong football mind," remarked John. "He's made quite an impression on me, he communicates well and you can tell the players are enjoying the training so far."
His nose for goal was on display Wednesday morning during small-sided games at McCook Athletic & Exposition. Replacing the offensive production from the likes of the departed Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Chris Rolfe is at the top of Technical Director Frank Klopas' priority list, picking up John could help to fill the void.
"The people I've met with the club have been great and I'm happy to be in such a nice city," he said. "I came here to train and to see if both sides and the club can come to an agreement that is beneficial going forward."
As the Fire embark for Phoenix on the first leg of their preseason tour Thursday, the Dutchman is taking things day-by-day, and looking forward to the warm southwest air. "I'm excited to go to Phoenix. It sounds like a great location for preseason training and I'm looking forward to getting to know the guys a bit more."