Friday, September 30, 2011

Fire try to stay hot at Houston

Dominic Oduro -- Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

The Chicago Fire do not have any time to savor one of their biggest victories of the season at Real Salt Lake on Wednesday.

Chicago heads into Saturday three points behind the New York Red Bulls, who currently hold the final wild card spot with 39 points. With only four regular-season games remaining, the Fire can potentially eliminate the gap behind New York when they face the Houston Dynamo at Robertson Stadium.

Chicago interim head coach Frank Klopas's squad is in the midst of a three-game stretch in seven days. On Tuesday, the Fire head to CenturyLink Field to take on the Seattle Sounders in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final.

"Unfortunately we don't have the luxury of games that aren't important," Fire defender Dan Gargan said. "All of these games are massive for us. Frank knows that, and he's doing the best to put out a good side each time we're out there."


Trib Local: Eclipse Select soccer enjoys successful September

Jeff Vorva/Tribune photo
By Jeff Vorva
Tribune reporter

The Eclipse Select Soccer Club’s five elite girls teams combined for a 23-3-3 record through September, including an 8-1-1 mark in Kansas last weekend.

The organization is based in Oak Brook and uses several practice sites throughout the Chicago suburbs. Players who make the elite squads come from various locations, including Indiana, Wisconsin and Champaign.

“We have totally committed kids,” Eclipse President and coach Rory Dames said. “Besides family and school, this is their top priority. They want to play and hopefully use soccer as a vehicle to get into a good school or financially offset college costs. They are willing to put the time and energy to work here trying to fulfill those dreams.”


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Eclipse Select alumna Brittany Bock returns to WPS's Western N.Y. Flash

Brittany Bock -- Getty Images
Eclipse Select and W.N.Y. Flash Communications

Eclipse Select Soccer Club alumna, University of Notre Dame product and Naperville, Ill., native Brittany Bock is returning to the Western New York Flash for their 2012 Women's Professional Soccer season. Bock and the Flash won the 2011 WPS Championship on Aug. 27 in their inaugural WPS season, defeating the Philadelphia Independence in a shootout. Bock played for most of the match before she was subbed out by Yael Averbuch in the 104th minute.

During the regular season, Bock started in 17 of 18 games played, tallying a goal and an assist in 1,456 minutes. The Neuqua Valley High School grad has played for the WPS runner-up Los Angeles Sol in 2009 and the Washington Freedom in 2010.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pappa nets hat trick, Fire topple RSL

Marco Pappa -- Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

The Chicago Fire garnered a signature win when they absolutely needed it. And most importantly for Chicago, the team now finds itself in a realistic position to catch a playoff spot with only four regular-season matches remaining.

The Fire won for the fifth time in their past six matches and were led by midfielder Marco Pappa's hat trick en route to a 3-0 victory against Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto Stadium in front of 20,762 at Sandy, Utah.

Pappa had been in a significant scoring funk, having failed to find the back of the net since June 26 against the New York Red Bulls.

Now Chicago (7-8-15, 36 points) is within three points of those Red Bulls, who currently hold the final wild card position with 39 points.

"That was great to see," Fire defender Dan Gargan said of Pappa's performance. "He's a player that we need, and when he's sticking the ball into the back of the net, that's phenomenal for us because that's just another weapon that we have. It's been coming. He comes to training every day and puts in extra sessions. He's such a talented player."


Ex-Eclipse Rodriguez lifts W.Va. in OT; DePaul's Gustafson nets 1st goal

Bri Rodriguez -- Chicago Red Stars
Eclipse Select Communications

CHICAGO -- Eclipse Select Soccer Club alumna and University of West Virginia junior midfielder Bri Rodriguez (Aurora, Ill./Waubonsie Valley High School) tallied a game-winning goal for a 1-0 overtime win over the University of Rutgers in Big East Conference play Sunday in Morgantown, W.Va.

Rodriguez chipped the ball over Rutgers goalkeeper Emmy Simpkins from about 25 yards out for the winning tally.

"I knew I got a hold of it," Rodriguez said. "I just didn't know if the goalie was out far enough where she could get back in. As soon as I saw it go into the back of the net, I got really excited."

DePaul's Gustafson tallies 1st goal in win: Eclipse Select alum and DePaul University freshman Kyle Gustafson (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville) netted his first collegiate goal during the Blue Demons' 2-1 win over Seton Hall in their Big East opener Saturday at Wish Field in Chicago.

"We got a corner kick in the first half and Mauricio Velasco gave me a good in-swinger that floated over the goalie's head, Gustafson said. "Luckily I was able to get my head down on it. It's always good to get that first one out of the way."


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Grazzini likely out as Fire face RSL

Sebastian Grazzini -- Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

The Chicago Fire have won four of their five past matches, but they will likely have to continue pushing on without midfielder Sebastian Grazzini.

Grazzini, who injured his hamstring during the first half of Chicago's 3-2 win over the New England Revolution, is expected to miss Wednesday's match at Real Salt Lake.

The midseason acquisition had a goal and an assist before his departure. Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas told this week that Grazzini would not play against Salt Lake, which is coming off its worst loss of the season, a 4-1 defeat at D.C. United. Grazzini is listed as questionable on the MLS Injury Report.

Klopas likely will return to Baggio Husidic in the midfield for the Fire (6-8-15, 33 points). Husidic replaced Grazzini during Sunday's win over the Revs, and it will be a tough task to match Grazzini's skill set and activity.

"Baggio came in and my message to him was he's got to get the ball and make those passes like Sebastian," Klopas said. "At first he was looking to get behind more and left a little bit of a gap."


When Sting was king in Chicago

AP photo
By Charlie Corr

Some Chicago sports fans need a refresher course that the 1980s were not completely centered on Mike Ditka's 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears and the phenomenon of Michael Jordan.
The Chicago Sting was the toast of this city at the start of the decade, winning North American Soccer League crowns in 1981 and 1984.

It was 30 years ago when the Sting captured the Soccer Bowl over the famed New York Cosmos, winning in a shootout on Sept. 26, 1981, in front of nearly 37,000 at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium. That victory, highlighted by defender Rudy Glenn's game-winning score in the shootout, brought the first professional championship to Chicago since the Bears' 1963 NFL Championship over the New York Giants.

"When you think about it, 30 years later people still appreciate that championship game -- the '84 one, as well," Glenn said. "People still come up to you and tell you they're Sting fans. It carries a lot of weight, and I can't even imagine it being duplicated."

"We were the kings in town in 1981," former Sting forward Pato Margetic said. "The Chicago Sting was something that for some reason the whole city got behind. It was amazing, because everywhere you went, people would grab you and ask you for autographs and tell you how great the team was and wishing us luck. The whole year was like that. It was unbelievable."


Eclipse GK Adee commits to Akron

Eclipse Select Communications

CHICAGO -- Eclipse Select Soccer Club U-18 goalkeeper Klaire Adee has made a verbal commitment to play for the University of Akron women's soccer team beginning with the 2012-2013 school year.

The Rockford, Ill., native is in the midst of her 2011-2012 senior year at Boylan Catholic High School. Adee has focused primarily on club soccer, joining Eclipse Select at the U-15 level and preparing herself for the next step with Akron of the Mid-American Conference.

"It's definitely a big weight off of my shoulders knowing that I'm going there," Adee said. "I'm excited. It's been my dream ever since I started playing soccer, to play in college. I went on quite a few visits, and Akron is a good fit for me."


Sunday, September 25, 2011

Early surge helps Fire edge Revs

Sebastian Grazzini (center)
-- Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire made an early push on the offensive end, and they needed every goal to overcome a late lapse on the defensive end against the New England Revolution on Sunday. Chicago tallied three first-half goals and edged the Revs, 3-2, in front of 14,576 at Toyota Park.

Fire midfielder Sebastian Grazzini had a goal and an assist before leaving the match in the 25th minute because of left hamstring tightness. Dominic Oduro netted his team-leading 11th goal, and Patrick Nyarko's first goal of the season proved to be the game-winner as the Fire took a 3-0 lead into halftime.

It was a much needed victory for Chicago in order to stay within reach of the bottom of the wild card pack. The New York Red Bulls moved back into the final wild card position on Saturday with 39 points after posting a 2-0 win over the Portland Timbers.

"There was a lot on the line -- do or die, I think, for both clubs," Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said. "We came out and we had a very good start to the game."


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Fire try to stay in hunt against Revs

Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The theme for the Chicago Fire will not change over the next several weeks. Chicago is in must-win mode with six regular-season matches remaining. And as long as the rest of the MLS field continues to oblige by keeping the Fire in the mix, that outside chance of a postseason berth remains.

The Fire (5-8-15, 30 points) host the New England Revolution (5-12-12, 27 points) this Sunday at Toyota Park, facing the only team remaining on Chicago's schedule that is in worse shape than the Fire.

"Now that we've put kind of a little run together, we've got to keep it going," Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson said. "We can't afford to take strides forward and then take steps back. We've got to keep pushing, pushing, pushing, until we get to where we want to be. And that's ultimately the playoffs."


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Fire GK Johnson finding groove

Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson -- Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- Second-year Chicago Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson has looked more confident and more comfortable on the pitch.

Three victories in a four-game stretch also amplify Johnson's success. But even without those results, it has been apparent that Johnson's progression has made significant strides since the start of the season.

"The progression over last year to this year has gotten better, as a player and as a person," Johnson said. "Mentally and physically I've worked on my game, and I think it has been important for me to see different situations. Now I can kind of relate situations into my starting positions and things like that. I can only get better as I keep playing and get older."


Monday, September 19, 2011

Fire have no room for error

Dominic Oduro (left) -- Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire are hanging around, and considering where this team was in mid-August, it is surprising that a postseason berth still is a slight possibility.

The odds for the playoffs are slim as only six games remain and three other teams are ahead of the Fire in the postseason picture.

But does Chicago have one final gasp at making a realistic run for a playoff spot? Is there enough time to eliminate the current six-point gap that separates Chicago from a wild card berth?

"We've progressively been getting better, and the results have been getting better," Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson said following Chicago's shorthanded 3-2 victory against Chivas USA on Saturday. "But now is the time to turn it up and get three points every time out. We have six games and we need all six. That's our attitude."


Eclipse Select Alumni Report: Manski posts two shutouts for Valparaiso

Eclipse Select Communications

CHICAGO -- Valparaiso University sophomore goalkeeper and Eclipse Select Soccer Club alumna Kristen Manski (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North High School) posted a flawless weekend in the net en route to two victories.

Manski opened Horizon League play on Friday with a two-save performance during a 1-0 victory over Wisconsin-Green Bay at Eastgate Field in Valparaiso, Ind. Then Manski made two saves during a 4-0 victory over Bowling Green on Sunday in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Manski has posted three straight shutouts, including a three-save, 2-0 victory on Sept. 11 at Eastern Illinois. Valpo also moves two games above .500 for the first time this season with a 5-3-1 mark. This weekend Valpo hosts the Crusader Classic, starting with a Friday match against Campbell.


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Oduro, shorthanded Fire top Chivas

Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire could not have drawn up a better start. The only question was whether Chicago could finish, especially playing down a man.

In an up-and-down match that included a two-goal lead followed by a level second half, the Fire's Dominic Oduro came to the rescue with a shorthanded, game-winning goal in the 85th minute to lead Chicago to a 3-2 victory over Chivas USA on Saturday in front of 15,246 at Toyota Park.

"These are the kinds of games that are very exciting, for sure," Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas said. "Memorable ones, things you can build on. You kind of feel that in the past, maybe the team would not have found a way to pull this one out."


Friday, September 16, 2011

Fire set to host Chivas USA

Fire captain Logan Pause -- Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- From Chivas de Guadalajara to Chivas USA, the latter opponent has a bearing on the Chicago Fire's distant postseason hopes.

Chicago hosts Chivas USA this Saturday at Toyota Park, and the team is coming off a 1-0 international friendly defeat to Guadalajara on Wednesday. The Fire (4-8-15, 27 points) enter the weekend in a three-way tie for last place in the Eastern Conference alongside the New England Revolution (which plays late Friday night against the expansion Portland Timbers) and Toronto FC.

The Fire are seven points out of the final wild card spot, and narrowing that gap will take some doing. D.C. United enters the weekend in that fourth wild card slot having played only 25 games to Chicago's 27.

"It's a huge match. It's a match we feel like we have to win," Fire captain Logan Pause said. "Our backs are up against the wall, and we need wins. I'm sure it's going to be an exciting game because Chivas also needs wins. They are on the outside looking in."

Chivas (7-11-10, 31 points) is in the midst of a significant drought. Not only have the Goats lost three straight, but they also have not scored a goal during this stretch.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Eclipse's Redei joins U.S. U-14s

Eclipse Select & U.S. Soccer Communications

Eclipse Select Soccer Club forward and Highland Park, Ill., native Zoe Redei is one of 36 players called up to the U.S. U-14 Girls' National Team training camp, which runs from Sunday, Sept. 18, to Sunday, Sept. 25, at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. Redei is the only Illinois-based player joining the training camp.

Redei participated in the U.S. U-14 Girls' National Team Identification Camp from July 31 to Aug. 7 in Portland, Ore., where 72 players were selected for evaluation. The upcoming training camp represents the core of the 2012 U-15 Girls' National Team player pool.

Read more at For the latest U.S. Soccer news, visit

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Fire fall to Chivas de Guadalajara

AP photo
By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The game had no implications, but the Chivas de Guadalajara fandom came out in full force in the loudest environment at Toyota Park this year.

Chivas' Jorge Mora scored a 61st-minute free kick goal and Guadalajara defeated the Chicago Fire, 1-0, in front of 18,224 at Wednesday's international friendly. It marked Chicago's second international loss this year, having fallen to Manchester United, 3-1, on July 23 at Soldier Field.

"It's one of those things where you don't like to lose," Fire defender Cory Gibbs said. "It's just unfortunate losing on a free kick. We just have to keep pressuring. For morale, it's not good."


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Fire's Grazzini, Oduro to miss friendly

Sebastian Grazzini -- Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire more or less are approaching Wednesday's international friendly against Chivas de Guadalajara as a high-profile training session. Midweek typically marks Chicago's hardest training to prepare for a weekend match, and Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas plans to use his lineup significantly when it hosts Chivas at Toyota Park.

"You get better by playing," Klopas said. "You can do certain things out here [in training]. The stuff we want to do out here, it's better to be doing against a very good opponent."

There will be plenty of caution thrown into this match. Fire forward Dominic Oduro hurt his ankle during the Fire's 2-0 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday, and Sebastian Grazzini's hamstring still is tight, Klopas said.

"I don't see them playing," Klopas said.


Eclipse alumni: DePaul's Gorden, Penn's York tally winners, 1st goals

Sarah Gorden -- DePaul Athletics
Eclipse Select Communications

CHICAGO -- Several of the youngest Eclipse Select Soccer Club alumni earned their first collegiate goals this past weekend, with two tallying game-winners.

Eclipse Select alumna and DePaul University freshman Sarah Gorden (Elk Grove, Ill./Conant High School) netted a golden goal in the 100th minute to lift the Blue Demons to a 2-1 overtime win over the University of Minnesota on Sunday at Wish Field. Gorden's strike carried to DePaul to its second straight win after starting the season with five defeats.

"It was an awesome feeling," Gorden said of her first collegiate goal. "I knew after the first step that I had beaten the defender."

York lifts Penn over 'Nova: University of Pennsylvania freshman and Eclipse Select alumna Megan York (Chicago, Ill./St. Ignatius) garnered her first collegiate goal in the 49th minute and it held up the rest of the way as Penn topped Villanova, 1-0, on Friday at the home of Major League Soccer's Philadelphia Union, PPL Park, in Chester, Pa.

"It's very exciting," York said of the experience on the Penn Sports Network. "It's a great opportunity. It's an amazing venue. I couldn't ask for a better result, either."


Monday, September 12, 2011

Eclipse sweeps SLSG in ECNL play

Eclipse Select Communications

CHICAGO -- The Eclipse Select Soccer Club's U-15 to U-18 Girls teams posted a weekend sweep against St. Louis Scott Gallagher (SLSG) on Saturday in Elite Clubs National League action on Saturday in Maryland Heights, Mo.

Eclipse Select U-17 improved to a perfect 4-0-0 with a 4-0 victory over SLSG. The U-17s have outscored their ECNL opponents by a 13-1 margin. Eclipse Select U-15 posted a 3-0 victory over SLSG and improved to 3-0-1. Eclipse Select's U-18s (2-1-1) earned a 4-0 victory and the U-16s (3-1-0) posted a 2-0 win against SLSG.


Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fire take hit with loss to Quakes

Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson -- Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

The Chicago Fire's recent success hit a significant bump in the road as they fell to the San Jose Earthquakes, 2-0, on Saturday at Buck Shaw Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif.

Chris Wondolowski had a goal and an assist and Ramiro Corrales also added a goal for San Jose, which ended a 13-game winless streak. The Fire's recent four-game unbeaten run came to a close, and what had been a positive stretch run took a wrong turn on Saturday.

"Dropping points now is not something we can afford," Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson said.


Friday, September 9, 2011

Eclipse's McGowan gains experience, confidence from U.S. U-15 sessions

By Charlie Corr
Eclipse Select staff

CHICAGO -- Lake Forest, Ill., native and Eclipse Select Soccer Club defender Ginny McGowan has had a busy 2011 on the pitch.

In the spring, McGowan made an immediate impact for Lake Forest High School during her freshman season, helping the Scouts to a sectional title match, earning team MVP honors and was the only freshman to receive special mention on the Chicago Tribune's All-State selections.

But surrounding the prep season and her club ball with Eclipse Select, McGowan has been a regular part of the U.S. U-15 Girls' National Team as she was invited to its training camp on three occasions this year. She recently wrapped up a session on Aug. 29 in Carson, Calif., and competing alongside some of the nation's top talent has been a valuable experience for McGowan.

"It has brought me confidence," McGowan said. "The level of play, technically it's a lot better and you're competing against each other. When you go through these camps, you're constantly being tested. It's pretty tough."

In the August camp, McGowan was joined by fellow Eclipse Select forwards Kayla McCoy (Lincolnwood, Ill.) and Maya Neal (Naperville, Ill.).


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fire forced into defensive adjustment

Gonzalo Segares -- Getty Images
By Charlie Corr

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. -- The Chicago Fire have found a rare winning stretch, so the team would prefer few to no changes toward its lineup now that it has a good thing going. Chicago posted back-to-back league wins, followed by a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup semifinal victory over the USL Pro's Richmond Kickers on Aug. 30.

But the Fire (4-7-15, 27 points) have no getting around a lineup adjustment this Saturday when they head out west to face the San Jose Earthquakes (5-10-11, 26 points). Left back Gonzalo Segares is not available because of yellow card accumulation.

That puts Fire interim head coach Frank Klopas on the spot as Chicago shoots for a third straight victory to continue its climb into the playoff picture. Will Klopas simply insert a bench player at Segares' left back position, or will he shift multiple players around within the defense and midfield?

"The whole thing is, who do you put there so you don't disrupt too many things?" Klopas said after Wednesday's training. "Because there's a good line of communication now with the group in the middle and stuff like that. It's just making a decision. Sometimes, that's why you sit around all night and you don't go to sleep, and you try to figure out -- is it this guy, is it this guy, is it this guy? But I have the confidence in any of the guys we put out there."


Buczkowski named to WPS's Best XI

Jen Buczkowski (right) -- Getty Images
Eclipse Select Soccer Club alumna and Philadelphia Independence midfielder Jen Buczkowski was named to WPS's Best XI of 2011. The Elk Grove Village, Ill., native and Notre Dame product started and played in 18 regular-season matches for Philadelphia, and capped off her 2011 season with an appearance in the WPS Championship against the title-winning Western New York Flash.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Eclipse Select alumna Forbes nets Horizon League Player of the Week

Eclipse Select alumna Jamie Forbes
Eclipse Select Communications

CHICAGO -- Eclipse Select Soccer Club alumna and junior goalkeeper Jamie Forbes (St. Charles, Ill./St. Charles North High School) made a whopping 11 saves as the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee defeated the University of Minnesota, 1-0, on Sunday at the Minnesota Gold Classic at Lyle Robbie Stadium in St. Paul, Minn.

For her efforts, which included a four-save performance in a 2-0 win against Iowa State on Friday, Forbes was named Horizon League Player of the Week on Monday. Forbes also was named to the National Team of the Week for Week 3.

Forbes has played in every minute of the 2011 season, posting a 6-0 record, four shutouts and a 0.67 goals against average. Forbes' 11-save effort ties for 14th among the Wisconsin-Milwaukee record books for most saves in a match.

"I thought Jamie Forbes was up to the task when she was called on," Milwaukee head coach Michael Moynihan said following Sunday's match. "She played fantastic. She was a real force back there with a great presence and made some big stops."

The Panthers' 6-0 start ties a program-best record, and they will be in the national spotlight this Wednesday when they host Marquette University at Engelmann Stadium. The match kicks off at 7 p.m. and is televised on Fox Soccer's NSCAA Game of the Week. Forbes is expected to make her seventh start.

Read about Eclipse Select's other alumni news, including Libertyville native Jessica Price's ACC Player of the Week performance for Florida State, at

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Eclipse Select announces programs for West Fall Soccer Skills School

Eclipse Select Communications

CHICAGO -- The Eclipse Select Soccer Club announced its 2011 West Fall Soccer Skills School, which takes place from September through early October at Just for Kicks, 10200 Soccer Drive, in Plainfield, Ill.

Programs offered include Effective Dribbling with Finishing at Extreme Speed (4:30 to 5:30 p.m.) and Pure Finishing (5:30 to 6:30 p.m.), and the sessions take place on Sept. 9, 16, 23, 30 and Oct. 7. The skills school is for boys and girls, ages 9-14, who are travel-level soccer players. Players will be subdivided by Eclipse staff based on their skill, agility, strength and other criteria.

The cost is $75 per player, per program, and a registration link is available at For questions and more information, contact Eclipse Select Director of Players-West Brian Kibler at