Six days and counting until Sunday's Fire - U.S. Soccer doubleheader at Soldier Field
After dropping a 2-0 result at the Columbus Crew last Saturday, the Chicago Fire (4-5-5, 17 pts.) will look to rebound in front of what will be the largest crowd at Soldier Field thus far in the 2004 season this Sunday when they host the New England Revolution (3-8-3, 12 pts.) in the second match of a Fire - U.S. Soccer doubleheader. The U.S. squad will begin the historic evening of soccer on the banks of Lake Michigan at 6 p.m. CT (live on ESPN2) when it hosts the Polish national team in their second meeting of the year. The Fire will then host the New England Revolution at 8:30 p.m. in the Revs' first visit to Soldier Field since the Fire's exciting 1-0 overtime victory in last November's 2003 MLS Eastern Conference Final. The Fire-Revolution match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports Net and can also be followed live via Chicago radio stations WRTO 1200 AM (Spanish) and WNVR 1030 AM (Polish). In addition, the FSN broadcast feed will be simulcast worldwide via the Fire's official website, www.Chicago-Fire.com (English).
Tickets for Sunday's doubleheader are selling quickly, meaning fans should call as soon as possible to reserve the best possible seats for one of the best nights of soccer in Chicago history. Advance tickets ranging in price levels from $28 to $80 can be purchased through Ticketmaster outlets or 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 (corner of Oak/Michigan) in Chicago. Group discounts are also available and can be arranged by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE.
The Fire and Revolution will renew one of Major League Soccer's closest rivalries Sunday night, a series that currently stands deadlocked at 6-6-4. After not meeting until the midway point of their respective 2004 campaigns, the Fire and Revolution will become very familiar with each other thanks to a home-and-home series that will conclude this Wednesday, July 14 with the return match at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. New England came away with a 2-1-1 advantage in the 2003 season series on the strength of a pair of victories at Gillette Stadium. However, the Fire got the better of the Revolution in Chicagoland last year, capturing a point via a 1-1 draw to open up the season on Apr. 13 and registering a 3-1 win on July 19 in matches played at Naperville's Cardinal Stadium that helped the Fire capture a 3-2-3 advantage at home all-time over the Revolution. Ante Razov is the Fire's all-time leading scorer against New England, collecting 13 points on five goals and three assists in his 12 matches against the Revolution.
Fire has fond memories of last meeting with revolution
Sunday's doubleheader nightcap between the Fire and the New England Revolution will be the first meeting between the two rival clubs since their classic meeting in last year's 2003 MLS Eastern Conference Final, which Chicago won 1-0 in overtime on Nov. 9 at Soldier Field. Former Fire goalkeeper Zach Thornton would keep his third consecutive clean sheet in postseason play, allowing a goal by Fire captain Chris Armas in the 101st minute to stand tall and send Chicago to its third MLS Cup Final. The victory also gave the Fire its first-ever Eastern Conference crown and a slim 10-9-4 advantage in the all-time series (regular and postseason play) with the Revolution.
Armas and Beasley to represent U.S.A. Sunday in front of Soldier Field faithful
United States men's national team manager Bruce Arena has named Chicago Fire midfielders Chris Armas and DaMarcus Beasley to the 18-man roster that will represent the U.S. in its first match in Chicago in over a decade when the side takes on Poland in the first match of a Fire-U.S. Soccer doubleheader this Sunday at Soldier Field. Both players will be off of the Fire roster for the night's second match, featuring the Fire and the New England Revolution in a rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Final. The 31-year-old Armas has now made 57 appearances for the U.S. national team, including seven caps already in 2004. Beasley has been busy with both club and country in 2004, collecting eight of his 35 career appearances for Arena this year. The 22-year-old midfielder has taken his game to a new level for the U.S., scoring four goals in those eight games, including the game-winning goal in three of the U.S.'s five wins this year.
Arena adds "Chicago flavor" to U.S.A. roster
While the "Taste of Chicago" might be over, U.S. men's national team manager Bruce Arena might have been influenced by the popular event, as his 18-man roster for this Sunday's friendly against Poland has a distinct Chicago flavor to it. In addition to Fire midfielders Chris Armas and DaMarcus Beasley, a pair of former Fire stalwarts and Chicago fan favorites - defender Carlos Bocanegra and goalkeeper Zach Thornton - have earned the chance to roam the Soldier Field grounds once again after making the U.S. squad. Bocanegra, who has earned 25 caps for the U.S., played for the Fire from 2000-2003 and established himself as one of MLS's most talented and tenacious defenders, proven by his back-to-back MLS ADT Defender of the Year awards in 2002 and 2003. Thornton was a "Fire Original" and served Chicago's MLS side for six seasons from 1998-2003. The 29-year-old 'keeper amassed the most wins in MLS history (91) and posted a stellar 1.23 GAA, good for the second best in League history, during his time with the "Men in Red." The game will also serve as a homecoming for Arlington Heights native and U.S. star forward Brian McBride, who will have the opportunity to play in Chicagoland as a senior international for the first time.
Let's play two ... Again! Fire-MetroStars and Morelia-Necaxa doubleheader set for July 17
The Chicago Fire has announced that the club will host a doubleheader on Saturday, July 17 featuring the Fire versus the MetroStars at 7 p.m. CT and Mexican club favorites Monarcas de Atletico Morelia facing Necaxa at 9:30 p.m. at Soldier Field. The Fire's contest against the MetroStars was previously scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. but has been moved a half hour earlier to accommodate the doubleheader. Individual game tickets for the July 17 doubleheader range from $20 (Firehouse) to $45 (VIP) and can be purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 312-559-1212. Tickets can also be purchased at the Chicago Fire offices, 980 N. Michigan, Suite 1998 in Chicago, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. For more information please call 1-888-MLS-FIRE.
The Mexican teams are expected to field their full squads for the exhibition contest as they prepare to enter the 2004 COMEX Apertura (Fall) season in August. Chicago's large Michoacan community will get its first chance in over two years to see Morelia, the Fire's Mexican League sister club, in person. The last time the "Monarchs" came to Chicagoland was on July 10, 2002, when Morelia knocked the Fire out of the 2002 CONCACAF Champions Cup despite the "Men in Red" claiming a 2-1 win at Naperville's Cardinal Stadium. Three-time Mexican League champions Necaxa will bring a talented roster of players that includes Mexican internationals Garcia Aspe, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Adolfo Rios and former U.N.A.M. (Pumas) megastar Braulio Luna.
Chicago Fire ACE/Tru-Fit injury report
Brown, C.J. - R groin strain - doubtful Mapp, Justin - lower back strain - probable Marsch, Jesse - R ankle cartilage damage - out Razov, Ante - R ankle sprain - probable Whitfield, Evan - R groin strain - doubtful
Nothing doing for Dipsy as Botswana falls in World Cup qualifying Fire forward Dipsy Selolwane saw all 90 minutes for the Botswana national team in an African Zone World Cup qualifying match last Saturday, but he couldn't help his "Zebras" break through in the scoring column in a 1-0 loss to Morocco in Gaborone, Botswana. Botswana is now 1-2-0 with three points in Group 5 play during the African Zone's semifinal stage, good for a third-place tie in the six-team group alongside Tunisia, and just one point behind co-leaders Guinea and Morocco. The 26-year-old Selolwane, who has four points on a pair of goals in nine appearances this year for Chicago, made his 27th career appearance for Botswana's senior team in Saturday's loss. Selolwane is expected to rejoin the Fire early this week and will be available for Sunday's match against the New England Revolution at Soldier Field.