The Chicago Fire (4-7-7, 19 pts.) will look to salvage a winless month of July in League play with a three-point effort this Wednesday when the team travels to Denver, Colo., to face the Colorado Rapids (5-5-8, 23 pts.) at INVESCO Field (8:30 p.m. CT; Comcast Cable). A 2-1 loss at the MetroStars on Saturday evening pushed the Fire's club-record winless streak to eight games (0-5-3), but a favorable result against the Rapids would end a grueling month of July for the Fire on a positive note heading into this weekend's MLS All-Star break.
Chicago holds an 11-6-3 advantage in regular season contests against the Rapids, which includes a current five-game unbeaten streak (4-0-1) that is the longest in the series. However, the Fire has done the bulk of its damage against Colorado in Chicagoland, and the "Men in Red" will look to improve upon their 2-4-3 mark in the Mile High City. Wednesday's match will be the second of three contests between the Fire and Rapids in 2004, but it will mark the only meeting between the two sides in Denver. A Nate Jaqua goal in the 66th minute would be all the scoring in the first match-up between the two teams, a 1-0 Fire win at Soldier Field on May 29. The Fire and Colorado will wrap up their season series next month when the Fire welcomes the Rapids to Soldier Field on Aug. 14. The last time the Fire traveled to Colorado, goals by Jesse Marsch and Mark Chung cancelled each other out resulting in a 1-1 draw at INVESCO Field on Oct. 1, 2003.
Marsch to Make Return to Practice Field
Midfielder Jesse Marsch will take part in drills this week at the Fire's Lake Forest College training ground for the first time since undergoing surgery on his right ankle to repair cartilage damage in late February. The 31-year-old Marsch, a mainstay in the Fire line-up since the team's inaugural season in 1998, has played 162 games in a Fire uniform, which ranks as the third most appearances in team history.
"This has been a long process and Jesse has worked hard with the Fire's medical staff, strength and conditioning coach Gerry Canavan, and the staff at AthletiCo, especially Mike McCormick, to be at this stage today," said Fire Head Athletic Trainer Jason Mathews. "He will be limited in his practice time the first few sessions, but we are anticipating him to make a contribution to the team in mid to late August.
Chicago Fire ACE/Tru-Fit Injury Report
Marsch, Jesse - R ankle cartilage damage - out
Perez, Orlando - L quad contusion - probable
Razov, Ante - R ankle bone spur - out
Whitfield, Evan - lower abdominal strain - doubtful
Williams, Andy - neck strain - probable
Four Members of Fire to Fight for East in Saturday's 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All Star Game
The Chicago Fire will have plenty of representation in Washington, D.C. during this election year, as four members of the Fire will represent the Eastern Conference in the 2004 Sierra Mist MLS All-Star Game, which will take place at RFK Stadium in the Nation's Capital this Saturday, July 31 at 1:00 p.m. CT (live on ABC Sports). All four Fire players - midfielder Chris Armas, defender Jim Curtin, forward Damani Ralph and goalkeeper Henry Ring - were named to the Eastern Conference's starting XI, which was determined by voting from fans, players, coaches and media members. Armas, who will be making his seventh appearance in the MLS midseason classic, leads the Fire's four-man contingent, while Ring, Curtin and Ralph will all be making their first-ever appearance in an MLS All-Star Game. Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley, who parted ways with the Fire and MLS to join Dutch club PSV Eindhoven last week, was also originally scheduled to represent the Fire and the East at the midseason classic event.
Fire to Face Richmond Kickers in U.S. Open Cup Quarterfinals
The Chicago Fire will take to the road for the second straight match in the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup when the squad travels to Richmond, VA to face the United Soccer League (USL) A-League's Richmond Kickers in a quarterfinal contest next Wednesday, Aug. 4 at the University of Richmond Stadium at 6:00 p.m. CT. The Fire reached the quarterfinal round for the fifth time in its seven tournament appearances courtesy of its 2-1 overtime win over the Columbus Crew last Tuesday at Crew Stadium. Richmond, the 1995 U.S. Open Cup champions, advanced in the competition by defeating MLS side D.C. United 2-1 in a Fourth Round contest at the University of Richmond Stadium last Wednesday, becoming the fourth A-League squad to defeat an MLS team to earn its spot in the quarterfinals in the process. The Fire is looking to hoist its fourth Dewar Trophy in this year's 91st edition of the country's oldest soccer competition and is also looking to become the first back-to-back champion in the tournament since the New York Pancyprian-Freedoms accomplished the feat in 1982-83.
Midfielder DaMarcus Beasley Departs Fire for Dutch Powerhouse PSV Eindhoven
Former Fire fan favorite and four-time MLS All-Star DaMarcus Beasley signed with European club PSV Eindhoven of the Dutch First Division last week and has joined his new team overseas. The Fire is set to receive a major allocation for Beasley, whose MLS contract expires in 2005. A member of Chicago's 2000 and 2003 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup championship teams, the 22-year-old Beasley became a fan favorite with his fast and exciting playmaking up and down the left wing. He made 98 appearances (88 starts) - all with Chicago - helping the Fire to three division crowns (2000, 2001 and 2003) and its first MLS Supporters Shield in 2003. His 48 points on 14 goals and 20 assists rank eighth all-time on the team while his 358 fouls suffered rank first all-time on the team and 10th all-time in MLS history. Beasley also made 17 postseason appearances for Chicago, tallying two goals and five assists for nine points. To read Beasley's statement on his departure, click here.
Capano's Cup Runneth Over; Youth International Returns to Fire After N. Ireland Milk Cup
Fire midfielder Craig Capano played in all four matches for the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team in the Northern Ireland Milk Cup from July 17-23, helping the squad to a 6th place finish in the prestigious international youth tournament. The recently turned 19-year-old played in all three of the U.S.A.'s matches in pool play, starting in a 2-2 draw with Denmark on July 17 and a 0-0 tie with Turkey last Monday before coming off the bench at halftime of another draw last Wednesday, this time a 1-1 stalemate with Wales. The "Stars-and-Stripes" would drop a penalty kick tiebreaker against Denmark on Thursday to fall into third place in its group, placing the squad into Friday's 5th/6th place match against the tournament host Northern Ireland. Capano returned to the starting line-up for the placement match and logged 67 minutes for the U.S.A. in a 2-1 loss to the hosts that gave the U.S. side its sixth place finish. Capano has rejoined his Fire teammates and will be available for selection for Wednesday's match at Colorado.
Chicago Fire Reserves End Season With Loss in PDL Central Conference Final
The Chicago Fire Reserves bid for an undefeated season and back-to-back Premier Development League Central Conference titles fell short last Saturday evening after the squad lost a heartbreaking 1-0 match in overtime to the Boulder Rapids Reserves in the Central Conference Final at Hefner Stadium in Ft. Wayne, IN. The Reserves entered the weekend's tournament as one of only two teams to go undefeated in PDL regular season play, and the squad would push its record to 18-0-1 with a 3-1 victory over the host Ft. Wayne Fever on Friday in the Central Conference Semifinals. Julian Nash, Nowaf Jaman and Jimmy Klatter all had goals to push the Fire Reserves into their third Central Conference Final appearance in four seasons of play. In Saturday's title match against Boulder, the Fire Reserves' stingy defense held strong in regulation, but the Rapids Reserves held their high-powered offense in check and the two teams would finish 90 minutes scoreless. The Rapids Reserves would capitalize on their first shot on goal in the first golden goal overtime period, as John Pulido would push one past Fire Reserves goalkeeper Brad Guzan in the 98th minute to pull off the upset. The Fire family would like to congratulate the Chicago Fire Reserves for their outstanding effort and play during a very successful 2004 season.
Fire Reserves Brad Guzan and Hamid Mehreioskouei Named to 2004 PDL All-Central Conference Team
A pair of Chicago Fire Reserves - goalkeeper Brad Guzan and forward Hamid Mehreioskouei - were named last week to the 2004 Premier Development League All-Central Conference Team. Guzan, a goalkeeper from the University of South Carolina, registered an incredible 0.388 GAA in his 13 regular season contests while compiling eight shutouts and a perfect 13-0-0 record. Despite playing in only five games after suffering a knee injury early in the season, Mehreioskouei garnered All-Conference honors after finishing tied for second on the Fire Reserves in scoring with 25 points on eight goals and nine assists. At the time of his injury, the Bradley University product sat on top of the 55-team PDL's scoring chart. Guzan and Mehreioskouei helped the Fire Reserves to an undefeated 17-0-1 record in the regular season and the team's third appearance in the Central Conference Final in the club's fourth season of play.