Fire looking for fireworks vs. Crew
Marsch, Jesse - R ankle cartilage damage - out
Whitfield, Evan - R groin strain -- doubtful
"Men in Red" to begin defense of its U.S. Open Cup crown on the road July 20
U.S. Soccer has announced that the Chicago Fire will begin the defense of its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title on Tuesday, July 20 on the road in a fourth round match-up against either the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer or the United Soccer League (USL) A-League's Syracuse Salty Dogs. Syracuse and Columbus will contest their third round U.S. Open Cup match this Wednesday, June 30 at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, O.H., with kick-off set for 6:30 p.m. CT. Should Columbus win in the third round, the Fire will travel to Crew Stadium to take on its Eastern Conference rival on July 20 at 6:30 p.m. If Syracuse can pull off the upset, the Fire will travel to Cortland, N.Y. - located 30 minutes south of Syracuse - to face the Salty Dogs at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex at 6:30 p.m. CT. The Fire won its third U.S. Open Cup crown last season and will look to improve upon its impressive 15-3-1 all-time record in the competition.
U.S.-Fire doubleheader fast approaching
After an 11-year absence, less than two weeks remain until the U.S. men's national team makes its return to Chicago, as the Fire and U.S. Soccer will host an international doubleheader on Sunday, July 11 at Soldier Field. The U.S. squad will begin the historic evening of soccer on the banks of Lake Michigan at 6 p.m. CT when it hosts the Polish national team in their second meeting of the year. The Fire will then host the New England Revolution at 8:30 p.m. in the Revs' first visit to Soldier Field since the Fire's exciting 1-0 overtime victory in last November's 2003 MLS Eastern Conference Final. Tickets are selling quickly, meaning fans should call as soon as possible to reserve the best possible seats for one of the best nights of soccer in Chicago history. Advance tickets ranging in price levels from $28 to $80 can be purchased through Ticketmaster outlets or by calling 312-559-1212 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com. Tickets can also be purchased at the Chicago Fire Offices, located at 980 N. Michigan, Suite 1998 (corner of Oak/Michigan) in Chicago. Group discounts are also available and can be arranged by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE.
Fire's schedule heats up with hectic July
With summer comes the usual vacation months, but July will be anything but restful for the Fire, who will play seven times during the month in the most hectic stretch of its 2004 schedule. Chicago is slated to play six MLS contests, including four in a row against Eastern Conference opponents to start off the month. After the Fire's match at Columbus this Saturday, the "Men in Red" will reacquaint themselves with the New England Revolution for a home-and-home series on July 11 (home) and July 14 (away) before hosting the MetroStars in another home-and-home series that begins on July 17. In the middle of that series, however, the Fire will take to the road to begin the defense of its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup crown against either the Columbus Crew or the A-League's Syracuse Salty Dogs on Tuesday, July 20. The Fire will wrap up a stretch of six games in 18 days by visiting the MetroStars on July 24 and then traveling to Denver to face the Colorado Rapids on July 28. While some members of the squad will conclude the month by appearing in the Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game on July 31 at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C., others will truly enjoy what will be a welcome All-Star break.
Dipsy called upon again by Botswana for World Cup Qualifying
While the Fire will face the Crew this Saturday in an important battle for positioning in the Eastern Conference standings, Fire forward Dipsy Selolwane will be trying to help his Botswana national team get one step closer to qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. The 26-year-old senior international has been called back by Botswana to play in its African Zone semifinal round qualifying contest against continental power Morocco this Saturday, July 3 in Gaborone, Botswana at 3:00 p.m. local time (8 a.m. CT). In his 26th career appearance for Botswana on June 12, Selolwane scored the game-winner in a 2-0 victory over Malawi in Gaborone, helping the "Zebras" take a share of the Group 5 lead after two qualifying games alongside Tunisia and Guinea at three points. Selolwane, who is one of his country's most popular athletes, has now scored eight goals in his senior international career.
Accurate Ante becomes League's all-time leader in shots on goal
Despite not being able to break through for a goal Sunday against the Los Angeles Galaxy, Fire forward Ante Razov was able to break a record by taking the all-time League lead in shots on goal. After peppering Galaxy goalkeeper Kevin Hartman with four shots on frame, Razov upped his career total in the category to 319, one better than Kansas City midfielder Preki's previous high mark of 318. Razov has reached his total in only 160 games, while it took Preki 224 contests to amass his prior record.
Fire family doubleheader a big success in club's Southland debut
The Chicago Fire used a pair of goals by forward Ante Razov to defeat the Chicago Fire Reserves of the Premier Development League 2-1 last Wednesday night in an exhibition match at St. Laurence High School in Burbank, Ill. The match marked the official debut of the Fire in the Chicago Southland, which will become the permanent home of the club in 2006 when the Fire opens its new soccer-specific stadium in the Village of Bridgeview. Razov started the scoring with a 19-yard free kick in the game's third minute and scored the game-winner in the 26th minute on a 40-yard bomb that caught Fire Reserves 'keeper Brad Guzan off his line. The PDL's top club cut the lead in half when Cameron Knowles knocked home a goal in the 69th minute, but the senior side would hold the line for the final 20 minutes to preserve the victory.
The Fire-Fire Reserves match was the second in a doubleheader that featured the Chicago Fire Juniors U-23 college development side defeating Monarcas Morelia's U-20 team 2-1 in the evening's opening contest. The Fire Juniors got on the board first when Benjamin Aguilar scored midway through the first half to give the Juniors a 1-0 lead that would hold until the halftime break. After the youth club from the Fire's Mexican League sister club answered with a goal early in the second stanza, the Juniors' Erik Insko scored off a throw-in to give the newly-formed squad a 2-1 advantage that would mark the final outcome.
Fire to help Sports Illustrated celebrate 50th anniversary Sunday at Navy Pier
The Chicago Fire mascot and Fire D/M Kelly Gray will help Sports Illustrated celebrate its 50th anniversary this Sunday, July 4 from 3-5 p.m. CT when the popular magazine's tour of America stops at Chicago's famous Navy Pier. The Fire representatives will appear at the Sports Illustrated Main Stage, located towards the front of the pier, to sign autographs and take part in the interactive tour's many fan-geared activities, including interactive games and trivia contests. To celebrate its golden anniversary, the magazine is traveling the country to help sports fans celebrate sports while also enhancing the quality of sports in America's communities by working with local Parks and Recreation departments and YMCAs. The Chicago tour stop will be held during the upcoming holiday weekend at Navy Pier from Friday, July 2 through Sunday, July 4.
Cinderella Chicago Fire Reserves look to continue Open Cup run Wednesday at Rochester
The Chicago Fire Reserves will face their stiffest challenge by far during its run in the 91st Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup when it travels to upstate New York this Wednesday, June 30 to face off against the A-League's Rochester Raging Rhinos in a third round contest. The match will take place at Rochester's Frontier Field at 6:30 p.m. CT. The Fire Reserves have made an impressive debut in their first appearance in the nation's oldest soccer tournament, outscoring its two opponents 10-2 in the first two rounds of play. The Fire Reserves feature the tournament's leading scorer in forward Julian Nash, who has registered 10 points on four goals and a pair of assists in the Reserves two wins. The Fire Reserves, one of four remaining teams in the tournament from the United Soccer League's Premier Development League, also remain in the running for U.S. Soccer's $10,000 prize awarded to the club from the United States Amateur Soccer Association (USASA) that advances the farthest in the competition. Should the Fire Reserves advance past Rochester, the squad would take to the road once again to face the New England Revolution in a fourth round match on Tuesday, July 20 at Lusitano Stadium in Ludlow, Mass. at 6:30 p.m. CT.