Weekly update: Face the champs

To Be the Best, You Gotta Beat the Best! Fire to Face Defending Champion L.A. Galaxy Saturday
The Chicago Fire (0-1-0, 0 pts.) will look to rebound from a tough opening weekend loss when it heads to Southern California to take on U.S. National Team standout Landon Donovan and the rest of the defending MLS Cup Champion Los Angeles Galaxy (0-1-0, 0 pts.) this Saturday, Apr. 8 at The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA at 9:30 p.m. CT. Fans can catch Saturday's contest, the second in a nine-game road trip to begin the Fire's 2006 MLS campaign, live on HDNet and over the Chicagoland airwaves on WRTO-AM 1200 (Spanish), with the WRTO audio feed also made available on the Fire's official website, www.Chicago-Fire.com.

The Galaxy are one of only three teams against which the Fire has a losing record in League play, the "Men in Red" heading into Saturday's contest with a 10-12-2 mark against Los Angeles in regular season action. Chicago gained ground on L.A. in the series by posting victories in both meetings last season, first holding on to win 2-1 on Aug. 13 at Soldier Field before using Justin Mapp's late-game heroics at The Home Depot Center on Sept. 4 to win by a similar score. The Fire has had modest success against the Galaxy in Southern California, going 4-6-2 in regular season play in the Los Angeles area, including a 2-1-1 record in contests at The Home Depot Center (since 2003 season). Chicago will look to draw even with the Galaxy in the overall series between the clubs, as the Fire is 14-15-3 in all competitions (MLS regular season/MLS Cup Playoffs/U.S. Open Cup) against Los Angeles.

Fire Rewind: Leads Slip Away in Season Opening Loss at FC Dallas
While the Fire saw glimpses of what could be in its 2006 MLS season opener last Saturday at FC Dallas, the result left plenty to be desired, as the "Men in Red" let leads of 1-0 and 2-1 slip away in an eventual 3-2 loss to its Brimstone Cup rival at Pizza Hut Park. Fire forwards Chad Barrett and Chris Rolfe scored goals in the 12th and 54th minutes, respectively, to put Chicago on top on two separate occasions, but a pair of goals less than five minutes apart from FC Dallas strikers Roberto Mina and Kenny Cooper midway through the second half propelled the "Hoops" to three points in front of 19,377 fans in Frisco. The match marked the MLS debuts of two members of the Fire, as forward Calen Carr and midfielder Floyd Franks both saw their first professional minutes as second half substitutes.

Chicago Fire/Performance PT "Recovery Room"
Armas, Chris - L ACL surgery - Questionable
Herron, Andy - R MCL sprain - Questionable
Jaqua, Nate - R MCL sprain - Questionable
Sanneh, Tony - R lower back strain - Questionable

Fire Begins 2006 MLS Reserve Division Slate Sunday at Galaxy
The Chicago Fire will begin its second season of MLS Reserve Division play this Sunday, Apr. 9, when the Fire Reserves will take on their counterparts from the Los Angeles Galaxy at 12:00 p.m. CT on the grounds of The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. As was the case in last year's inaugural Reserve Division season, all MLS sides will play 12 Reserve contests, with the victor of the single-table league receiving a $20,000 prize at season's end. Fire forward Chad Barrett shined in Reserve Division action last year, his eight goals tying him for second place in Reserve action during his rookie campaign and helping the Fire Reserves to a 5-4-3 record, good for a share of fifth-place.

Jetix Kids Cup Comes to Chicago Southland This Saturday
Major League Soccer has announced the return of the Jetix Kids Cup, an annual action-packed, five-a-side international soccer event. Teams of boys and girls youth players ages 8-12 will compete in one of three Regional Tournaments, the first of which will be held in Worth, IL on Saturday, Apr. 8 at the Betty Mattera Sports Complex, located at 11500 S. Oketo Ave. Chicago Fire Soccer will be involved in the event through player appearances and youth clinics that will enhance the tournament experience (players in attendance will be announced in the upcoming weeks). For more information on the 2006 Jetix Kids Cup, please visit www.JetixKidsCup.com or call toll free, 1-866-696-KICK.

Chicago Fire Business Alliance to Host "Business to Business Cocktail Reception" Apr. 20 in Bridgeview
Chicago Fire Soccer has announced the club's corporate business organization, the Chicago Fire Business Alliance, will hold its first event of the 2006 calendar year on Thursday, Apr. 20 with the "Business to Business Cocktail Reception" at Mama Luigi's Restaurant, located at 7500 S. Harlem Ave. in Bridgeview, IL. Fire President/CEO John Guppy and Jay Cooper, Vice President of Midwest Operations, AEG Facilities, are scheduled to attend the reception to speak to the CFBA constituency of the available business opportunities with both the Fire and Bridgeview Stadium, the team's new, 20,000-seat multipurpose stadium at the corner of 71st and Harlem in Bridgeview. Those who are interested in attending this business networking opportunity, which will feature complimentary drinks and appetizers, should RSVP to Fire Corporate Account Manager Meghan McMaster by phone at 312-705-7242 or via email at mmcmaster@chicago-fire.com mmcmaster@chicago-fire.com by Friday, Apr. 14. For more information on the Chicago Fire Business Alliance, please visit the "Tickets" section of www.Chicago-Fire.com and click on the Fire Business Alliance link.

Fire and FireWorks for Kids Foundation Team Up With National Sports Center for the Disabled to Host Soccer Clinic
Chicago Fire Soccer, the FireWorks for Kids Foundation and the National Sports Center for the Disabled (NSCD) will join together to conduct a free soccer clinic for children and youth with disabilities at the Foster Avenue Soccer Fields (5200 N. Lake Shore Drive in Chicago) on Saturday, Apr. 22 from 4:00-6:00 p.m. CT. As part of the popular NSCD AbilityCAMP program, this free interactive clinic will give children ages 6-18 with disabilities, either physical or developmental, the opportunity to experience first hand the fun the sport of soccer can provide. The AbilityCAMP will include instruction and skill development, use of equipment, games, prizes and snacks, in addition to appearances by Fire players and coaches and the Fire mascot. Individuals and groups are welcome to attend. For more information on the event, including how to register, please visit www.ncsd.org or contact Gaven Attwood at 303-293-5317.

MLS Direct Kick Package Returns
Major League Soccer has announced the return of MLS Direct Kick, providing fans the opportunity to watch more than 125 MLS games through the MLS Direct Kick television package. Direct Kick returns for the League's 11th season and is available to fans on any of three separate outlets. Satellite TV providers DIRECTV and DISH Network, along with digital cable provider iN DEMAND Networks, will once again each present every available MLS regional telecast, with the residential price remaining at just $69 across each of the three platforms and commercial establishments able to purchase the package for a flat rate of $100.

Nearly all of the 192 MLS regular season games will be available between the following outlets: MLS Direct Kick package and national broadcast partners ABC, ESPN2 and HDNet. While the free preview for opening weekend has passed, MLS has collaborated with all three providers to offer another free preview period during the extended July 4th weekend (July 1-4). All MLS Direct Kick package telecasts are subject to change. Fore more information on MLS Direct Kick, including how to order and the full broadcast schedule for the 2006 season, visit www.MLSnet.com.

What's Your Priority (Number)? Buy a Fire Full- or Half-Season Ticket Plan Now to Make Our List
The seat selection process for all sections at Bridgeview Stadium for current Fire Full Season and Half Season ticket holders is now underway. Fans can stake their spot on the Fire's growing seat priority list by acquiring a season ticket package for the team's first season at Bridgeview Stadium. Season ticket packages are available now and can be purchased by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE or by visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com. Fans can scout out which seats they would like by checking out the Bridgeview seating chart in the Ticket section at www.Chicago-Fire.com.


  • This Saturday, Apr. 8 and Sunday, Apr. 9, the Illinois State Soccer Association will sponsor their annual Referee Clinic (entry level and recertification) in Spanish. This year's event will be held at the Mexican Consulate Office, located at 204 N. Ashland in Chicago, from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. CT. This is an all-inclusive clinic open to all referees regardless of their current or past affiliation. Referees must register online at www.illinoissoccer.org/referees.htm. For more information, please contact the ISSA office at 773 283-2800.

  • The Fire's training table will be chock full of birthday cake, with no less than four members of the "Men in Red" celebrating birthdays this week. Rookies Jordan Russolillo (Monday) and Floyd Franks (Wednesday) both turn 22 years of age this week, while goalkeeper Matt Pickens (Wednesday) and midfielder Thiago (Friday) will each turn 24 years old.