Friday, August 27, 2010

Red Stars vs. FC Gold Pride highlights

Highlights from Sunday's Red Stars match against FC Gold Pride. The Bay Area team topped Chicago, 3-2, and won the WPS regular-season title.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ching, Dynamo sour Fire's comeback

Houston Dynamo forward Brian Ching was a thorn in the Chicago Fire's side as he netted a hat trick and the game-winning goal in the 85th minute as the Dynamo topped Chicago, 4-3, on Saturday at Robertson Stadium in Houston.

The Fire overcame a 3-1 deficit, but Ching's header off of a corner kick sealed a Houston victory late as Chicago was outplayed in many facets of the match.

Chicago's set-piece defending had its flaws. The Dynamo dominated in possession early on. Certainly the Fire (6-6-6) had a difficult task coming off a mid-week match, while Houston (6-10-5) was well-rested and on its home pitch.

The Fire had an opportunity to jump into third place in the Eastern Conference standings when Toronto FC fell to the New York Red Bulls earlier in the day, but Toronto maintained its two-point lead over Chicago.

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Red Stars host 1st-place Gold Pride

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Red Stars (5-10-6, 21 points) host four-time FIFA Women’s Player of the Year Marta and FC Gold Pride (12-3-4, 40 points) at 5 p.m. Sunday at Toyota Park. The game is televised on Fox Soccer Channel.

Gold Pride is in the midst of an eight-match unbeaten run that started on July 3. But the Bay Area team has posted three straight scoreless draws, most recently against the Washington Freedom on Aug. 14.

The Red Stars are coming off a 2-0 loss against Washington in Boyds, Md., a loss that included a pair of injuries to forward Jessica McDonald and midfielder Formiga, as well as a limited bench.

“It was tough,” Red Stars Head Coach Omid Namazi said of the situation. “Even still, we played well in the first half and should have been up a couple goals. All season we haven’t been able to score, and then the injuries just make it that much tougher. When you fall behind, you lose confidence.”

Chicago currently sits in sixth place in the standings and is in must-win mode to try and make a push for a playoff berth.

The Red Stars are in the midst of their roughest stretch of the season – a 1-5-1 record over their past seven matches. Chicago has been outscored 12-4 in this span.

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Red Stars vs. Washington Freedom highlights

Highlights from the Red Stars' 2-0 loss to the Washington Freedom on Thursday.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Fire look to keep ball rolling in Houston

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire are in the midst of a 2-0-1 month of August and they hope to maintain their momentum when they travel to Houston to take on the Dynamo on Saturday at Robertson Stadium.

The Fire potentially could climb into third place in the East. The New York Red Bulls travel to BMO Field to take on Toronto FC earlier in the day on Saturday. If Toronto falls and Chicago wins, the Fire would take sole possession of third ahead of Toronto. A Toronto loss and Fire win would mean a third-place tie, with Chicago having played two less matches than Toronto.

The Dynamo typically is in the conversation when looking at the top teams in MLS. But that definitely is not the case this season.

Houston is 5-10-5 and carrying a 10-game winless streak on its shoulders. Its last victory was against D.C. United on May 22.

"We're going to play against a team that even though they're not having a great [season] as of right now, they are still a tough team to play," Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said.

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Injuries mount as Red Stars fall to Washington

BOYDS, Md. -- With injuries mounting and international absences to battle through, the Chicago Red Stars fell to the Washington Freedom, 2-0, on Thursday in Women's Professional Soccer action at the Maryland SoccerPlex.

Chicago capped off the road portion of its regular season and starts up a three-game homestand, starting with a 5 p.m. match on Sunday against FC Gold Pride at Toyota Park in Bridgeview. The match is televised live on Fox Soccer Channel.

The postseason race is in full swing as the Freedom (6-8-7, 25 points) currently holds the fourth playoff position if the season ended today. Sky Blue FC is in fifth (6-9-4, 22 points) and the Red Stars in sixth with a 5-10-6 record and 21 points.

The Red Stars' injury bug continued Thursday as they already were entering the match without Kate Markgraf (concussion).

Red Stars forward Jessica McDonald made her first WPS start, but her day ended early when she was taken off the field in a stretcher in the 12th minute. Red Stars Head Athletic Trainer Laura Behr said that McDonald tore her patellar tendon and is out for the remainder of the season. Chicago had to burn one of its substitutions early when Nikki Washington officially entered the match in the 16th minute.

In the second half, Red Stars midfielder Formiga sprained her ankle and was replaced by Lydia Vandenbergh in the 63rd minute.

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Fire's Ljungberg quickly making impact

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- It is relatively easy to jump on the Freddie Ljungberg bandwagon considering his immediate impact in only three matches with the Chicago Fire.

Ljungberg rapidly is becoming a welcome addition to the organization, and his most recent efforts helped Chicago top the New England Revolution, 2-1, on Wednesday. The 33-year-old designated player had a falling out with Seattle Sounders FC. But whatever went wrong on the west coast, Ljungberg appears to have found his stride already in Chicago.

Ljungberg's work rate, vision, offensive push and overall soccer experience were sorely needed. And the sense of admiration for the former Arsenal midfielder is evident in the locker room and on the pitch.

"He's got kind of a fiery personality, and it's good. It's what we need," Fire midfielder Peter Lowry said shortly after Ljungberg's arrival. "We kind of need a kick in the [butt]. I used to watch the old Arsenal teams on TV, and it was fun to watch him play. You try to learn from what he does and soak in as much as possible."

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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Fire's Carr returns, nets winner over Revs

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Chicago Fire forward Calen Carr made his return a memorable one.

Carr netted a game-winning goal in the 85th minute as the Fire defeated the New England Revolution, 2-1, on Thursday in front of 14,056 at Toyota Park. The match was Carr's first since a scoreless draw between the host Revs and the Fire on Oct. 17, 2009.

Carr injured his quad at the end of this year's preseason when the team was in Mexico. But he slowly but surely has battled his way back, and Carr's goal gave the Fire (6-5-6) three well-deserved points against Eastern Conference foe New England (6-10-3).

"It's been a tough road where my quad would feel better, then it would feel worse, and then better, then worse," Carr said. "I finally broke through the barrier and I've been training for some weeks now. I feel great."

The front line made an aggressive run upfield during Carr's goal. Freddie Ljungberg fueled the attack and fed to Carr who surged ahead and cut to his right toward the middle of the pitch. He hit a low shot from just outside of the box and drove the ball past Revs goalkeeper Matt Reis, finding the left side of the goal for the game-winner.

"[Ljungberg] got the ball and I just drifted out wide to the left," Carr said. "I cut inside, and was originally going to go to the far post and saw the defender coming. So I decided to come back across the face of the goal. The rest ... thankfully it went in."

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Red Stars, Freedom battle in critical tilt

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Red Stars (5-9-6, 21 points) cap off the road portion of their regular season when they travel to Boyds, Md., to face the Washington Freedom (5-8-7, 22 points) in Women’s Professional Soccer action at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Maryland SoccerPlex.

The match will stream live on

With only first-place FC Gold Pride having qualified for the postseason heading into the week, Thursday’s match is critical for Chicago and Washington. The Freedom currently is tied for fourth place with Sky Blue FC, and the Red Stars are one point behind both squads in sixth place. The top four regular-season teams qualify for the WPS playoffs.

“We’re hoping for a six-point swing,” Red Stars Head Coach Omid Namazi said. “The team is aware of that, and hopefully we’ll come out and perform.”

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Red Stars sign former ND defender Shaner

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Red Stars of Women's Professional Soccer today announce the signing of defender Christie Shaner to a developmental contract. Per team policy, terms of her agreement are not released.

The move coincides with a recent slew of injuries to the Red Stars' defense and midfield, including center defender and captain Kate Markgraf, who is listed as questionable for Thursday's match at the Washington Freedom because of a concussion injury.

"It's basically an emergency situation, and we're going to bring Christie in right away," Red Stars Head Coach Omid Namazi said. "She has experience in this league, she has height and physicality to her play. It's basically a stop-gap situation and we're going to throw her into the mix."

Shaner will be available for selection on Thursday and will wear a No. 5 jersey.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Segares eases into return, Fire host Revs

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire's designated player signings of Nery Castillo and Freddie Ljungberg craved so much attention. But Fire defender and Costa Rica native Gonzalo Segares will prove to be an equally important addition for Chicago in this second half of the MLS season.

Segares, who had been playing for Greek Cypriot club Apollon Limassol, also should be the smoothest transition among Chicago's recent signings.

The Fire host the New England Revolution on Wednesday at Toyota Park, and Segares returns less than a year removed from his previous MLS season.

"I always thought about coming back to MLS, especially coming back here to Chicago," Segares said. "I always wanted that. It was quicker than expected, but I'm glad to be back."

Segares likely will return to his customary left defensive back slot that Fire fans are used to watching. But if Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos wants to tinker with a few things, Segares is willing to move toward the center, too.

"If he wants me to play center back or left back, I've really got no problem with that. I'm used to both positions," Segares said. "On the [Costa Rica] national team I used to play as a center back, and here I'm more as a left back. I don't think I'd have trouble getting used to that. It's just one or two days in the position and I'll be fine."

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Fire sign Bolingbrook native Pineda

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire signed Bolingbrook native and Plainfield East High School product Victor Pineda as the organization's first homegrown player.

The 17-year-old Pineda will be available for selection for Wednesday's match against the New England Revolution at Toyota Park.

"Victor is a talented, technical midfielder who has a bright future with the Fire," Fire technical director Frank Klopas said in a release. "His addition to the first team is representative of the Fire's commitment to the future and to our player development system."

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Friday, August 13, 2010

Vandenbergh named to Red Stars' 1st team

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Red Stars of Women's Professional Soccer announce today the move of defender and midfielder Lydia Vandenbergh to the organization's first-team roster. Per team policy, terms of her contract are not released.

Vandenbergh has spent the 2010 season as a developmental player for Chicago, playing in three matches (one start) and logging 109 minutes.

"I think her versatility is her biggest asset," Red Stars Head Coach Omid Namazi said. "She's able to play in the midfield and on the left side as a defender, and that gives us different options where we can be flexible with where she plays. She's a steady player who doesn't make a lot of mistakes, and she's a calming influence."


Red Stars vs. Independence highlights

Highlights from the Chicago Red Stars' 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Independence on Wednesday.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Red Stars' Sitch, Weber out for season

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Chicago Red Stars medical staff confirmed Thursday that Red Stars midfielder and Oswego, Ill., native Julianne Sitch will miss the remainder of the 2010 Women's Professional Soccer season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).

Sitch's injury to her right knee took place late in the second half during Chicago's 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Independence on Wednesday at Toyota Park. In anticipation of a pass, Sitch planted her right foot and quickly rotated, injuring her knee in a non-contact play.

Late Wednesday, team medical staff diagnosed Sitch with a knee sprain before a Thursday doctor's visit confirmed that she tore her ACL.

"Julianne Sitch is a role player who's got the heart of a lion," Red Stars Head Coach Omid Namazi said following Wednesday's match. "She works her butt off, and to replace her is tough."

The Red Stars announce another roster setback with developmental player and Elk Grove Village, Ill., native Elise Weber out for the rest of the season with a labral tear of her left hip -- an injury that occurred during training.

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Jared Montz's podcast with Frank Klopas

Chicago Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas on JMS Podcast from MontzTV on Vimeo.

Former Chicago Fire defender Jared Montz has an interesting conversation with Fire technical director Frank Klopas.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Red Stars fall to Philadelphia, 2-1

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Red Stars fell to the Philadelphia Independence, 2-1, on Wednesday in Women's Professional Soccer action in front of 3,152 at Toyota Park.

With the win, the second-place Independence improved to 9-6-4 overall and 3-0-0 against the Red Stars during their inaugural season. Chicago fell to 5-9-6 overall.

The Red Stars are tied for fifth in the WPS standings with the Washington Freedom. Both teams have 21 points, but the Freedom has played one less match than Chicago.

On Wednesday, Philadelphia's Lianne Sanderson and the team's leading goal scorer Amy Rodriguez each netted a tally for the Independence. Sanderson's game-winner came in the 78th minute off of a free kick as the ball scooted past Red Stars goalkeeper Jillian Loyden for the 2-1 lead.

Chicago forward Ella Masar netted her team-leading sixth goal of the season in the 62nd minute to tie the score at 1-1. Casey Nogueira provided a deep cross from the right side and Masar lunged at the ball and headed it past Independence goalkeeper Karina LeBlanc.


Fire need cohesiveness in critical stretch

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Following the Chicago Fire's scoreless draw against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, one thing was glaringly clear -- New York looked like the tighter, cohesive group.

Saying so does not imply that the Fire do not have that characteristic inside of them. On the contrary, with an acquisition such as a Freddie Ljungberg, that type of talent will bond and energize the 11-man grouping on the pitch.

The Fire are just past the midway point of the season with 16 matches and a 5-5-6 record, and this team has some good pieces in place. But the cohesiveness will need to form relatively quickly for a strong second-half run. And at the moment, the Fire still are on the outside of the postseason picture if the regular season wrapped up today.

"We're now getting to the point of the season where we can't drop many points," Fire defensive midfielder Logan Pause said. "We've got to start making up some ground."

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Johnson leads Fire to draw vs. Red Bulls

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Despite five designated players taking to the pitch and the anticipation heading into the Chicago Fire's home match against the New York Red Bulls, both talented squads lacked the offensive gusto on Sunday.

In the end, it was Fire rookie goalkeeper Sean Johnson earning the spotlight with seven saves as the Fire and Red Bulls played to a scoreless draw in front of the largest crowd (21,868) in Toyota Park history.

The Red Bulls began to penetrate the defense in the second half, but Johnson was up to the task.

"I think we played our style pretty much 70 minutes throughout the match," Johnson said. "I think the last 20 minutes or so they were attacking us pretty strong and I think us sitting in, we were very organized. I didn't have a problem. I think defensively we were strong throughout the 90 minutes."

The hype heading into the match focused on both teams' slew of designated players. Four of the five available designated players started the match, with New York's forward tandem of Juan Pablo Angel and Thierry Henry and defender Rafael Marquez taking the pitch, and Chicago midfielder Freddie Ljungberg making his first Fire start. Fire forward Nery Castillo opened the match on the bench, but he made his debut in the 56th minute, entering the match for target forward Brian McBride.

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Saturday, August 7, 2010

Red Stars, Gold Pride play to draw

HAYWARD, Calif. -- The Chicago Red Stars and the first-place FC Gold Pride played to a scoreless draw on Saturday in Women's Professional Soccer action at Pioneer Stadium.

Red Stars goalkeeper Jillian Loyden made four saves for her fifth clean sheet of the season. Her counterpart, Gold Pride goalkeeper Nicole Barnhart, made five saves for her league-leading sixth shutout.

With the draw, Chicago (5-8-6) holds a fourth-place tie in the WPS standings. Sky Blue FC defeated the Atlanta Beat earlier in the day, 2-1, as Chicago and New Jersey share fourth with 21 points apiece. The Red Stars previously were tied with the Washington Freedom. Gold Pride (12-3-3) picks up a point and now has 39 for the season.

The Red Stars also surpassed their points total from last season (20 points in 2009).

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Fire-Red Bulls tilt heavy with anticipation

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- One year ago, the New York Red Bulls were the laughingstock of MLS, and Sunday's matchup would have been a dud on the Chicago Fire's calendar. But things have changed dramatically since then.

A combined five designated players could take the pitch and Toyota Park possibly will have a sellout crowd on hand when the Fire host New York in a match jam-packed with anticipation (8 p.m. CT kickoff, ESPN2).

The Red Bulls have taken full advantage of the league's designated player rule using the three-player maximum: Juan Pablo Angel, Mexican National Team captain Rafael Marquez and Frenchman Thierry Henry. The Fire recently brought in two designated players in the past several weeks in Nery Castillo and Freddie Ljungberg.

"It won't be easy because they strengthened the team with new players like Henry and Rafa Marquez," Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said. "But if we want to qualify, we need to show that we can win these kinds of matches."

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