Fire's preseason slate begins tomorrow vs. Central Florida

CHICAGO - The pace of the Chicago Fire's 2005 preseason picks up tomorrow afternoon, as the "Men in Red" will take to the field for the first time this spring against the University of Central Florida in a scrimmage set for 3:30 p.m. ET at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL. While most of the Fire's 32-man preseason roster is on-hand and healthy in Bradenton, a few members of the "Men in Red" have been unable to take part in full training, including midfielder Logan Pause (sports hernia surgery), D/M Tony Sanneh (hamstring strain) and recently signed D/M Ivan Guerrero, who will remain in his native Honduras pending visa issues. Sanneh will join his new teammates in Florida this Saturday, as the U.S. National Team veteran returned to Chicago last weekend to begin rehabbing his injured hamstring, which he suffered while training at the U.S. National Team's training camp in Carson, CA in late January.

Chicago Fire 2005 Preseason Calendar (Dates subject to change)

Feb. 7 - Feb. 25: Training Camp at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL

  • Thursday, Feb. 10 - Fire vs. University of Central Florida at IMG Academy (3:30 p.m. ET)
  • Friday, Feb. 11 - Fire vs. FC Dallas at IMG Academy (3:00 p.m. ET)
  • Monday, Feb. 14 - Fire vs. U.S. Under-17 National Team at IMG Academy (Time TBD)
  • Wednesday, Feb. 16 - Fire vs. San Jose Earthquakes at IMG Academy (3:00 p.m. ET)
  • Saturday, Feb. 19 - Fire vs. U.S. Under-20 National team at IMG Academy (Time TBD)

    Mar. 1 - Mar. 11: Training Camp in Guadalajara, Mexico

    Mar. 18 - Mar. 26: Training Camp in Jackson, MS

    Monday, Mar. 28: Training at Lake Forest College practice facility begins (Time TBD)

    Saturday, Apr. 2: MLS First Kick 2005 - Fire vs. FC Dallas

    Nowak to Receive Honor From President of Poland Today in Nation's Capital

    Former Fire captain Peter Nowak will receive the Knight Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Poland from Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski during a ceremony that will take place this afternoon at the historic Blair House in Washington, D.C. Fire President and GM Peter Wilt has arrived in the Nation's Capital and will join dignitaries from the Polish-American and soccer communities at the event, which coincides with the President's official visit to the United States. The Order of Merit is the highest award bestowed to a citizen of Poland, and Nowak is receiving the award for his excellence and diligence in promoting Poland in the United States.

    "This is a tremendous honor for Peter," said Wilt. "The Chicago Fire congratulates him on this well earned recognition."

    Nowak's five years on the field for the Fire made him a fan favorite not only in Chicago, but around the entire league. During his half-decade playing career in MLS from 1998-2002, Nowak accumulated 100 points on 26 goals and 48 assists, all as a member of the Fire. He led the then-expansion Fire to an MLS Cup championship in 1998 and U.S. Open Cup titles in 1998 and 2000. Three times each, he was an MLS All-Star (1998, 1999, 2000), a member of the MLS Pepsi Best XI (1998, 2000, 2001) and the Fire's MVP (1998, 2000, 2001). Nowak was also selected as the MVP of MLS Cup 1998. In 2003, Nowak was the first member inducted into the "Ring of Fire," the Chicago Fire's Hall of Fame. Nowak was lost month listed among the 53 players eligible for selection into the National Soccer Hall of Fame for his contributions to Major League Soccer.