J.G. Hoop/MLS/WireImage.com

Weekly update: Season starts soon

Fire Kicks Off Regular Season This Saturday in Brimstone Cup Battle at FC Dallas
After two months of spring training, the Chicago Fire will finally begin its eighth season of MLS play this Saturday, Apr. 2 when it squares off against FC Dallas in a showdown at the famed Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX at 7:30 p.m. CT. The rivalry between the Fire and FC Dallas, formerly the Dallas Burn, has always been one of the most heated in Major League Soccer. The "Men in Red" will look to edge closer to the .500 mark in the all-time series, which currently stands at 11-9-1 in favor of FC Dallas, while improving their mark of 2-7-0 all time in the Cotton Bowl (the Fire is 2-8-0 all-time in Dallas). In addition, Chicago is hoping to end a seven-game losing streak on the road to Dallas, its last victory in the Lone Star State coming all the way back on July 4, 1999 with a 2-1 result. The Fire will look to take the early advantage in the race for the Brimstone Cup, which is awarded to the victor of the season series between the two clubs.

Chicago Fire Training Agenda
Tuesday, Mar. 29: 2005 FireWorks for Kids Season Kickoff Luncheon - Hyatt Regency Chicago
Wednesday, Mar. 30: Training at Lake Forest College (LFC)- 10:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Thursday, Mar. 31: Training at LFC - 10:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Friday, Apr. 1: Training at LFC - 10:00-11:15 a.m.; Depart for Dallas, TX
Saturday, Apr. 2: Fire at FC Dallas - Cotton Bowl in Dallas, TX - 7:30 p.m. CT
Sunday, Apr. 3: Return to Chicago; Off Day

Chicago Fire Injury Report
Capano, Craig - L torn ACL surgery - Out
Caballero, Samuel - R hamstring strain - Questionable
Guerrero, Mario Ivan - R hamstring strain - Questionable
Sanneh, Tony - R hip and hamstring strain - Out
Thorrington, John - L hamstring strain - Questionable

Not Too Late to Attend Tomorrow's 2005 FireWorks For Kids Foundation Season Kickoff Luncheon
Less than 24 hours remain to reserve a seat - or seats - for the annual FireWorks for Kids Foundation 2005 Season Kickoff Luncheon, sponsored by AthletiCo. This year's edition of the Luncheon, which is already set to become the most attended version of the annual event, will take place tomorrow in the Grand Ballroom of the Hyatt Regency Chicago, located at 151 East Wacker Drive. The event will begin with a reception at 11:00 a.m. CT, with the lunch and formal program beginning at 12:00 p.m. Veteran Chicago sports anchor Jim Rose of WLS-TV (ABC-7 Chicago) will serve as the Master of Ceremonies for this year's event, while recent National Soccer Hall of Fame inductee and former Fire and U.S. National Team member Eric Wynalda will perform as the Luncheon's Keynote Speaker. Tickets for this year's Season Kickoff Luncheon are $60 per individual or $500 for a table of ten, with all proceeds from the event and silent auction benefiting the FireWorks for Kids Foundation. For more information regarding the 2005 FWFK Season Kickoff Luncheon, feel free to contact the Fire Community Relations department by phone at 312-705-7218 or by fax at 312-705-7393.

Herron Sits Out of Costa Rica's Weekend CONCACAF World Cup Qualifier
Fire forward Andy Herron was not included on the 18-man roster for the Costa Rican National Team in its 2-1 victory over Panama at Saprissa Stadium in San Jose, Costa Rica last Saturday. Herron, who has amassed four goals and 16 caps in international play, is still with the "Ticos" as they prepare for their next CONCACAF qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago this Wednesday, Mar. 30 at Hasley Crawford Stadium in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad (2:30 p.m. CT, 4:30 p.m. local time). Herron is expected to rejoin the Fire on Mar. 31 in time for the club's opener at FC Dallas this Saturday, Apr. 2.

Barrett and John Help U.S. U-20s to Second Place Finish in Suwon International Youth Tournament
Fire forward Chad Barrett and midfielder Will John saw time in all three contests for the United States Under-20 Men's National Team in the prestigious Suwon International Youth Football Tournament in Suwon, South Korea last week, helping the squad to a second place finish in the four-team event. The new Fire teammates started in the U.S.'s first contest of the tournament against Argentina last Tuesday, with Barrett's goal off a John corner kick in the first half helping the Americans to a surprising 2-1 victory over the giants from South America. Both players saw time off the bench as second half substitutes in the U.S.'s 1-0 loss to host South Korea last Thursday, but Barrett returned to the starting line-up to help the Americans to a 1-0 victory over Egypt on Saturday in a match that John entered at the halftime break. After a lengthy flight back to the States on Sunday, Barrett and John both rejoined the Fire for its training session this morning at Lake Forest College.

Signings of Rolfe and Segares Bring Fire's Opening Day Roster to 27
The Fire has announced the signings of forward Chris Rolfe and defender Gonzalo Segares to developmental player contracts. Per MLS policy, terms of the deals were not announced. The signing of Rolfe makes him the third player in club history to jump from the Premier Development League's (PDL) Chicago Fire Premier (formerly Fire Reserves). The 22-year-old striker played his collegiate soccer at the University of Dayton, where he leads the program with 22 career assists. Segares, whose contract will become official pending visa approval, was a four-year standout while at Virginia Commonwealth University. The 22-year-old native of San Jose, Costa Rica was a two-time member of the NSCAA All-American First Team and was one of three finalists for the 2004 MAC Hermann Trophy Award. Today's two signings leaves just one open spot on the Fire's 28-man roster leading up to this Saturday's regular season opener at FC Dallas.

Countdown to Soldier Field Opener on Apr. 16 vs. San Jose - 19 Days
With the Chicago Fire's final opening day at Soldier Field less than three weeks away, fans of the "Men in Red" can now secure their seats for the Apr. 16 contest against the San Jose Earthquakes at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets for the match can be purchased through TicketMaster 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 in Chicago. To order season tickets or for group discount information, please call 1-888-MLS-FIRE. The Fire's 2005 season will be its last at Soldier Field before the club moves to its 20,000-seat soccer-specific stadium in the Village of Bridgeview in the Spring of 2006.

Exclusive Presale for May 28 U.S.-England Match Available to Fire Season Ticket Holders Beginning Today
The Chicago Fire is currently hosting a special presale event for Fire season ticket holders that will run through this Thursday, Mar. 30 for the international match featuring the U.S. Men's National Team taking on England on Saturday, May 28 at Soldier Field. Tickets to the event will go on sale to the general public on Mar. 31. In the exclusive sales offer that began today, Fire season ticket holders and group leaders will have a priority opportunity to purchase the best seats to this premier soccer event. Tickets range in price from $28-$95 and can be purchased by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE or by visiting the Fire offices at 980 N. Michigan (Suite 1998) in Chicago until Thursday, Mar. 31. Fire suite holders and season ticket holders will have access to suites through a three-day private sale to be held in April. Tickets will be available to the general public on Mar. 31 and can be purchased through ussoccer.com, by phone via Ticketmaster at 312-559-1212 and at all Ticketmaster ticket centers throughout Chicagoland.

Fire Announces International Doubleheader Featuring Mexico vs. Poland on Wednesday, Apr. 27
The Chicago Fire, in conjunction with Soccer United Marketing (SUM) and Tamayo Entertainment, Inc., has announced that it will host a prestigious doubleheader featuring the national teams of Mexico and Poland and the Fire versus the New England Revolution in an Eastern Conference showdown on Wednesday, Apr. 27 at Soldier Field. The first game will feature the two MLS sides squaring off at 6:00 p.m. CT, followed by the international game. To accommodate what is expected to be one of the biggest soccer events Chicago has ever hosted, the Fire's game against the Revolution was moved up from May 25. Tickets to the doubleheader, which will range in price from $30 to $75, can be purchased via Ticketmaster by calling 312-559-1212 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com. Executive Suites are also available and can be purchased by calling the Fire's Premium Seating Department at 312-705-7239. The doubleheader is included in the Fire's full season ticket package, but is not included in the seven-game package. Fire flex plan holders can redeem two vouchers for every 10 purchased until Friday, Apr. 15, which is the cut-off date for the acceptance of vouchers for the event.

Etc ...

  • Monarcas Morelia, the Fire's Mexican League sister team, enjoyed a weekend off from league play, as the Mexican First Division halted its COMEX Clausura session in compliance with FIFA's international match dates. Morelia, who leads Group One with a 6-2-2 record and 20 points, will return to action this Saturday, Apr. 2, when it travels to take on Jaguares (2-4-4, 10 pts.) at Victor Manuel Reyna Stadium in Chiapas, Mexico at 3:00 p.m. CT.

  • Did you know that Fire defender Hollis Donaldson was the first soccer player from Liberty University to be drafted by an MLS club? You can find out more about Donaldson in a new feature on the team's official website, www.Chicago-Fire.com. Also fresh this week on Chicago-Fire.com are an update and photos from the Bridgeview Stadium site, which come in addition to the site's exclusive webcam, and columnist Chris Costello's latest edition of "Behind the Numbers."