Weekly update: Fire players picked out
Fire, AEG and the Village of Bridgeview Will Get to Work With Groundbreaking Ceremony Next Tuesday
The Chicago Fire, its parent company, AEG, and the Village of Bridgeview have announced that they will hold a ceremonial groundbreaking for Bridgeview's new stadium. The historic event, which will also serve to unveil the new stadium renderings, will be held next Tuesday, Nov. 30 at 2:00 p.m. CT at the site of the Fire's future permanent home on 71st Street and Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview, IL. Featured speakers at the ceremony will include Fire GM Peter Wilt, AEG President and CEO Timothy J. Leiweke, Village of Bridgeview Mayor Steve Landek and MLS Commissioner Don Garber. All speakers, in addition to Fire players and coaches to be announced later, will be made available to the media following the ceremony.
Construction for the 20,000-seat, $70 million world-class sports and entertainment venue will conclude with the grand opening of the stadium, which is scheduled for Spring of 2006. The Fire will be the stadium's primary tenant, and the site will house the team's offices and official training center. AEG will operate and manage the stadium for the Village. The stadium will be a multi-purpose facility, serving as a major concert venue and a resource for the rapidly growing youth soccer communities and the Southland area at large.
Three Former "Men in Red" Among First Four Picks in 2004 MLS Expansion Draft
The Chicago Fire lost three members of its roster last Friday, as midfielder Andy Williams, D/M Orlando Perez and goalkeeper D.J. Countess were selected as three of the first four picks in the 2004 MLS Expansion Draft. Williams, the Fire's leader in assists in both of his seasons in Chicago in 2003 and 2004, became the first player drafted by the ReAL Salt Lake franchise with the second overall pick. CD Chivas USA would select next and chose Perez, a five-year MLS veteran and native of Southern California, making his selection to the Los Angeles-area based side a homecoming for the 27-year-old left flanker. Former Fire Assistant GM and current Salt Lake GM Steve Pastorino would raid his former side's roster once again with the fourth overall selection, as RSL took Countess with its second pick. The move reunites Countess with ReAL Salt Lake boss John Ellinger, who coached the young netminder during his stints with various U.S. Men's Youth National Teams. The five Fire players who were unprotected and not selected in Friday's draft - goalkeeper Henry Ring, D/M Evan Whitfield, midfielders Alex Boucicaut and Scott Buete, and forward Dipsy Selolwane - will have their rights retained by Chicago through the duration of their current MLS contracts.
Herron and Costa Rica Move On, But Jamaicans' 2006 World Cup Hopes Fade
Three players with Fire ties participated in CONCACAF region World Cup qualifiers last Wednesday, Nov. 17, but only one of them will continue to move down the path towards Germany 2006. Forward Andy Herron (16 caps, 4 goals) started and played 75 minutes in helping his Costa Rican National Team to a 0-0 draw with Honduras at the Estadio Francisco Morazán in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. The result was as good as a win for the "Ticos," who claimed one of two CONCACAF Finals berths from Group 2 after tying with Guatemala for the group's top spot in the semifinal stage. A tie was not nearly as good for the Jamaican National Team, as Fire forward Damani Ralph and former Fire midfielder Andy Williams both started in the Reggae Boyz' 1-1 draw with the U.S. National Team last Wednesday at Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH. Williams (83 caps, 13 goals) tallied the lone goal for the Jamaicans in the 26th minute, when his penalty kick beat U.S. 'keeper Kasey Keller to tie the match at ones. Williams would play the entire 90 minutes, while Ralph (12 caps, 1 goal) started the match but exited in the 68th minute. The draw would prove costly, as the Reggae Boyz needed a win to claim a Finals spot to advance out of the Group 1 semifinal pool. The CONCACAF hexagonal Final stage, which kicks off early in 2005, will include the United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Trinidad & Tobago and Panama.
Join Jesse Marsch at the FireWorks for Kids Foundation's Chicagoland Premiere of "Christmas with the Kranks"
The FireWorks for Kids Foundation - the charitable arm of the Chicago Fire - invites Fire and film fans alike to join midfielder and FWFK Foundation Board Member Jesse Marsch tomorrow night at the Chicagoland premiere of the new Revolution Films movie "Christmas with the Kranks" (rated PG). The special event at the Regal Cinemas in Lincolnshire, located at 300 Parkway Drive, will begin with a wine/cheese/soda reception at 6:30 p.m. and will also include a pre-movie presentation, chances to win door prizes and free popcorn during the film. Tickets to the event cost $30 for adults and $20 for children ages 12 and under, and must be bought in advance. All proceeds from the movie premiere will go towards the FireWorks for Kids Foundation. The film, a new holiday-themed comedy based on John Grisham's novel Skipping Christmas, stars Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Dan Akroyd and is scheduled for a nationwide release on Nov. 24. To receive more information on the event or to purchase tickets via credit card, please call the FireWorks for Kids Foundation office at 312-705-7218, or visit the Community section of www.Chicago-Fire.com.
Fire Juniors Get a Taste of the "Fuerzas Basics" This Week in Morelia
Six support staff members and 19 players from Chicago Fire Juniors U-16 Boys team arrived in Morelia, Mexico early Sunday morning for the youth affiliate's first extended training period with the Fire's Mexican League sister club, Monarcas Morelia, since the two clubs joined together in a partnership more than two years ago. While in Morelia, the CFJ's will take part in a variety of activities both off and on the field, as they get a glimpse into what it takes to be a part of Monarcas' "Fuerzas Basics" program, which is widely considered one of the best youth development programs in Mexico. After training on both Sunday and Monday, the Juniors will take part in three exhibition contests against San Luis de Poto, an affiliate of the Morelia program, on Tuesday, Monarcas' Fourth Division side on Wednesday and Toluca's Fourth Division squad on Friday. While each day will include chances for the Chicagoans to experience the rich culture and history of Mexico, the CFJ's will also introduce members of the Fuerzas Basics to an American tradition - the "other football" on Thanksgiving - when the Juniors will take on their hosts in the first annual "Turkey Bowl" on Thanksgiving afternoon. Other highlights on the trip for the CFJ's will include the chance to meet members of Morelia's First Division squad and take in one of their practice sessions, a tour of Morelos Stadium, home of the club's First Division team, and, most importantly, the chance to meet with their fellow students of the game from the Fuerzas Basics to socialize and see how the sport of soccer impacts youths in other cultures. Be sure to visit www.Chicago-Fire.com throughout the week to read updates on the Chicago Fire Juniors' trip to Morelia.
Capano A "No-Go" For Florida
Fire midfielder Craig Capano was to be one of a handful of young professionals taking part in the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team's weeklong training camp last week in Sunrise, FL. Instead, the 19-year-old traded in the sunshine of Florida for the bright whites of a Chicago-area hospital, as Capano fell ill in the days before the camp and was unable to take part in the practice and games under new U.S. U-20 Head Coach Sigi Schmid. Without Capano, who served as the team's captain earlier in the year, the U.S. U-20's were able to defeat their counterparts from Honduras 2-0 on Friday and Mexico 2-1 on Sunday to win a four-team U-20 tournament that also included the World Champions from Brazil.
Last Week to Vote for Trio of "Men in Red" for 17th Annual Chicago Sports Fans Choice Awards Honors
Four members of the "Men in Red" - midfielder Chris Armas, defender Jim Curtin, midfielder Jesse Marsch and goalkeeper Henry Ring - are among the nominees up for awards at the 17th Annual Chicago Sports Fans Choice Awards, sponsored by Sports Profiles Plus. This year's Chicago Sports Fans Choice Awards will be held on Thursday, Dec. 9 at the Chicago Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont, IL. Armas, the Fire's captain, and Curtin, the 2004 Fire Defender of the Year winner, join a list of Chicago's most talented athletes among the candidates for Chicago's Most Valuable Player Award. After enjoying a breakout season in net for the Fire, Ring has deservedly earned his spot on the ballot for the Chicago's Rising Star Award, while Marsch's continued efforts in the community has earned him his second consecutive Humanitarian Award from Sports Profiles. Fans will be able to vote for their favorites in the Most Valuable Player and Rising Star categories online at www.sppsports.com from now through next Monday, Nov. 29.
Only 10 Days Remain to Help Out Haiti Through the Boucicaut Hurricane Relief Fund
Chicago Fire and Haitian National Team midfielder Alexandre Boucicaut is spearheading a relief effort for victims of the hurricanes that have destroyed much of Haiti over the past two months. In conjunction with Illinois Youth Soccer, the Boucicaut Hurricane Relief Fund will be collecting soccer equipment and monetary donations to rebuild the Caribbean nation's youth soccer programs and provide relief to the island's beleaguered residents. After donating one of his MLS paychecks to help out his friends and family back home, Boucicaut is hoping to raise greater awareness of the difficult conditions in the country after the natural disasters caused heavy damage and killed more than 1,600 people. Boucicaut will be traveling back to his native Haiti in December and will personally distribute the collected goods to youth soccer programs and the national youth soccer academy, while monetary donations will go to general relief efforts through non-profit organizations. The distribution event will provide a treat for Haitian children, as the 22-year-old soccer star enjoys the popularity of a national hero in the small Caribbean country. Addresses to send both soccer equipment and monetary donations can be found below. The deadline for the receipt of all donations has been set next Wednesday, Dec. 1.
New and gently used equipment can be shipped to:
Boucicaut Hurricane Relief Fund
c/o Illinois Youth Soccer
939 Industrial Drive
Bensenville, IL 60106
Monetary donations can be sent to:
Boucicaut Hurricane Relief Fund
c/o Illinois Youth Soccer
1655 S. Arlington Heights Rd.
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
(Checks can be made to Illinois Youth Soccer with "Boucicaut Hurricane Relief Fund" in the memo line.)