After protecting its home turf with a 2-1 victory over the Colorado Rapids at Soldier Field last Saturday, the Chicago Fire (4-4-1, 13 pts.) will look to continue the success it has seen on the road so far in 2005 when it travels to Salt Lake City, UT this Saturday, May 28 for its first-ever match-up against MLS expansion side Real Salt Lake (3-4-2, 11 pts.). Saturday's contest is set for an 8:30 p.m. CT kick-off and can be seen on Comcast SportsNet (DishNet Ch. 429, DIRECTV Ch. 640). Fans can also follow the action via Chicagoland radio stations WRTO-AM 1200 (Spanish) and WNVR-AM 1030 (Polish) and the Fire's official website, www.Chicago-Fire.com (English), where links for the Spanish and Polish language radio broadcasts can also be found.
While the Fire and Real Salt Lake will be facing each other for the first time on Saturday, Chicago will see some familiar faces across the field at the opening whistle. RSL midfielder Andy Williams played in 45 games for the "Men in Red" during the 2003-04 seasons and Real starting goalkeeper D.J. Countess also represented the Fire last year as the club's back-up netminder. In addition, RSL forward Dipsy Selolwane was a Fire fan favorite for three seasons from 2002-2004. Chicago's connections in Salt Lake City go all the way to the top of the club, as RSL General Manager Steve Pastorino served in the Fire front office since 1998, most recently as the team's Assistant General Manager, before departing for the Wasatch Valley last September to help start up the League's 12th squad.
Chicago Fire AthletiCo Injury Report
Brown, C.J. - R hamstring strain - Questionable
Capano, Craig - L torn ACL surgery - Out
Griffin, Leonard - R knee ligament strain - Questionable
Pickens, Matt - R groin strain - Questionable
Sanneh, Tony - R hamstring strain - Out
Thornton Called Into U.S. National Team Camp Ahead of Saturday's Soldier Field Friendly vs. England
Zach Thornton could be working double duty for club and country this week, as the Fire goalkeeper has been named to U.S. Manager Bruce Arena's 19-man roster that will prepare to take on England in an international friendly at Chicago's Soldier Field this Saturday, May 28. Thornton was the only member of the "Men in Red" selected to the U.S. squad, which also includes former Fire defender Carlos Bocanegra and Arlington Heights native Brian McBride. Thornton, who was one of eight players from the ranks of Major League Soccer called in by Arena for the contest, has made eight career appearances with the U.S. National Team since making his debut for the Red, White & Blue in 1998, with his last "cap" coming against Korea on Dec. 9, 2001. While Thornton will be training with the U.S. throughout the week, the possibility still exists for the 10-year MLS veteran to be called back by the Fire for its first-ever trip to Utah to take on MLS expansion side Real Salt Lake this Saturday.
Fan Voting For 2005 MLS All-Star Game Now Live on MLSNet.com
Fans can now cast their votes for the MLS All-Stars who will take the field against English Premier League club Fulham FC in the 2005 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game. On July 30, "MLS All-Stars Take on the World" as Major League Soccer's best take on Fulham FC at Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH in a game televised nationally on ABC Sports (2:30 p.m. CT). Fans can vote for the starting XI by filling out the online ballot on the League's official website www.MLSnet.com until Friday, July 8, 2005. Fans can vote for 11 starting players from a pool of 144 total candidates via the online ballot - one goalkeeper, three defenders, five midfielders and two forwards. A maximum of 10 ballots may be submitted per person per day and there are no limits on how many days fans can vote. The online fan balloting will comprise 25 percent of the total, with MLS coaches and GMs (25 percent), media (25 percent) and players (25 percent) accounting for the remainder.
Armas To Suit Up in 200th MLS Game Saturday
With his next appearance, Fire captain Chris Armas will become only the 12th player in MLS history to play in 200 regular season games - a feat that is expected to take place this Saturday when the Fire takes to the road to face Real Salt Lake. Of the 199 games in his illustrious career, the 32-year-old Armas has played the last 149 in a Fire uniform over the last eight seasons after playing 50 games with the Los Angeles Galaxy during his first two years in the League. Armas, who took sole possession of 12th place on the League's all-time games played chart from FC Dallas defender Steve Jolley last Saturday against Colorado, will become the first MLS player to take the field in his 200th game in over a year, as MetroStars defender Jeff Agoos was the last player to do the honor on May 1, 2004 while then a member of the San Jose Earthquakes. It will not take a year to have another player break the 200-game barrier, as Armas's fellow "Fire Original" Jesse Marsch currently sits in 15th place on the all-time list with 195 career appearances, just one game behind 14th place Jaime Moreno of D.C. United. Along with defender C.J. Brown (179 career GP, T-29th), the Fire has three active players in the top 30 of the League's all-time games played list.
Fire Fiesta at Guadalajara Restaurant Precedes 2005 Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night at Soldier Field
The Chicago Fire will be hosting a private reception for its 2005 Hispanic Heroes on Friday, June 3 at Guadalajara Restaurant, located at 3735 S. Harlem Avenue (corner of Harlem and Ogden) in Berwyn, IL. The event will serve as a prelude for the team's 2005 edition of Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night, to be celebrated on Saturday, June 4 during the Fire's first ever meeting with MLS expansion club Chivas USA at Soldier Field beginning at 3:00 p.m. CT (ESPN2). The Fire and USG will recognize more than 50 individuals who have made significant contributions to Chicago's Hispanic community during a halftime ceremony on the field.
The Fire's rendering of Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night promises to showcase Latin America's rich musical and soccer heritage. The day's events will begin at 1:30 p.m. with the popular Hispanic Festival, featuring musical and dance acts representing various Latin American cultures. A live Mariachi band and the Brazilian group Chicago Samba are also scheduled to perform as part of the day's events. Tickets to the game can be purchased through TicketMaster at www.TicketMaster.com or by calling 312-559-1212. Discount tickets are available for groups of 15 or more through the Chicago Fire offices at 980 N. Michigan, Suite 1998 in Chicago. For more information please call 1-888-MLS-FIRE.
Monarcas Morelia Bows Out in Semifinals of 2005 COMEX Clausura Tournament
The Clausura season for the Fire's Mexican League sister team, Monarcas Morelia, came to an unexpected end over the weekend, as fourth-seeded Tecos (U.A.G.) knocked off the top-seeded "Monarchs" by a 2-1 aggregate margin in the semifinal round of the 2005 COMEX Clausura tournament. The home-and-home series began last Wednesday with Tecos defeating Morelia 1-0 at Guadalajara's 3 de Marzo Stadium, as a Juan Leaño goal at the half-hour mark stood tall for the home side. Morelia overcame a one-goal deficit in the quarterfinals against Tigres, but they could not muster the same in the semifinals, as Monarcas and Tecos drew 1-1 on Saturday at Morelos Stadium in Morelia. Carlos Morales put the visitors on top in the 18th minute, providing what would be the series-clinching goal. A Hector Castro tally in the 53rd minute raised hopes for the home side, but Monarcas failed to find the series equalizer, finishing what proved to be one of the club's most successful campaigns.