After dropping a 4-1 result at the Dallas Burn last Saturday, the Chicago Fire (5-10-8, 23 pts.) will return home for a pair of crucial contests at Soldier Field this week, beginning with the MLS co-leading Kansas City Wizards (10-7-5, 35 pts.) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. CT. The Fire will round out the week on Saturday, when the team hosts its third soccer doubleheader of the summer in an MLS-Mexican League twin bill. The night will begin at 7 p.m. when the Fire renews their rivalry with former captain Peter Nowak, teenage phenom Freddy Adu and the rest of D.C. United (6-8-9, 27 pts.), with the nightcap featuring Mexican club giants Club America and Pachuca immediately following the MLS contest. Due to the scheduling of the doubleheader, the Fire match has been moved forward 30 minutes from its originally scheduled kick-off time of 7:30 p.m. Both Fire matches this week can be heard live via Chicagoland radio stations WRTO 1200 AM (Spanish) and WNVR 1030 AM (Polish) and online worldwide via the Fire's official website, www.Chicago-Fire.com (English).
Wednesday's contest will end Chicago's regular season series against the Wizards, but it will not mark the end of their meetings this year, as the two clubs have earned the right to play for the 2004 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in tournament's final, to be contested on Wednesday, Sept. 22 at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Chicago and K.C. met twice in the first five weeks of the 2004 campaign at Arrowhead, with both matches ending in draws - a scoreless affair to open up the season on Apr. 3 and a 2-2 result on May 8. Chicago dominates the regular season series with a record of 13-4-2, including a spotless 8-0-0 mark at home.
The Fire has been successful this season against its Eastern Conference rival United, against whom Chicago has garnered a maximum six points in their two meetings to this point. The "Men in Red" earned their first victory of the 2004 campaign via a 1-0 victory at RFK Stadium on Apr. 24, while Damani Ralph's hat trick on June 5 ruined the return of Nowak to the Windy City and paced a 3-0 Fire victory at Soldier Field. With that win, the Fire took its first-ever lead in the regular season series against D.C., which now stands at 8-7-3, a mark that includes a 5-2-2 record in Chicagoland. The Fire rides a six-game overall winning streak over United heading into Saturday's contest.
Fire captain Chris Armas to undergo arthroscopic knee surgery Wednesday
After losing all-time leading scorer Ante Razov for the remainder of the 2004 season to surgery earlier this month, the Chicago Fire was dealt another blow late last week after learning its captain, midfielder Chris Armas, will be forced to undergo arthroscopic surgery on his right knee to repair damage to his medial meniscus. U.S. men's national team physician Bert Mendelbaum will perform the procedure this Wednesday, Sept. 1 in Santa Monica, Calif. Armas suffered the injury while with the U.S. national team as the squad prepared for its mach against Poland in Chicago in July. After trying to play through the injury for the last month, surgery was deemed necessary to correct the problem. A time frame for Armas's return to the field will be established after the surgery is completed but is likely to be in the 4-6 week range. The 32-year-old Armas has played in 19 of the Fire's 23 MLS matches during the 2004 season.
Chicago Fire AthletiCo Sports Medicine injury report
Armas, Chris - R meniscus tear - out
Razov, Ante - R ankle bone spur - out
Freddy Adu, Peter Nowak and Peter Wilt available to media on Tuesday conference call at 12:30 p.m. CT
In advance of D.C. United's second visit to Chicago on Saturday, Chicagoland and national media members will have the chance to talk to teenage sensation Freddy Adu and United head coach - and former Fire captain - Peter Nowak in a conference call set for this Tuesday, Aug. 31 at 12:30 p.m. CT. Fire general manager Peter Wilt will also be on the call to discuss the team's performance and player options as the MLS trade deadline approaches tomorrow afternoon. Fans can also listen in by logging on to www.Chicago-Fire.com.
Fans and media reminded to use correct parking passes and tickets for remaining home schedule
With the numerous changes to the Fire's schedule and two matches on the docket this week, fans and media members are reminded to pay close attention to the match numbers in regards to tickets and parking passes for the remaining four contests of the 2004 regular season. Season ticket holders and fans that bought single-game tickets prior to the changes are reminded that, since replacement tickets were distributed after the schedule changes were made, THE ORIGINAL SEASON TICKETS HAVE BEEN VOIDED AND FANS THAT PRESENT THOSE TICKETS AT THE SOLDIER FIELD GATES WILL NOT BE ADMITTED. Ticket holders and media members are reminded to use Parking Passes corresponding to the old games numbers for this week's matches. PARKING PASSES FOR MATCH #10 WILL BE HONORED AT SOLDIER FIELD WEDNESDAY NIGHT, AND PARKING PASS #12 WILL BE HONORED FOR SATURDAY NIGHT. A listing of the updated match dates and their Parking Pass numbers follows:
Sep. 1 vs. Kansas City Wizards Parking Pass #10
Sep. 4 vs. D.C. United Parking Pass #12
Sep. 25 vs. New England Revolution Parking Pass #14
Oct. 6 vs. Columbus Crew Parking Pass #13
Soccer doubleheader headlines Saturday's annual Fire Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night
As part of its annual Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night celebration, the Chicago Fire - in conjunction with broadcast partner Univision Radio - will host an MLS-Mexican League doubleheader this Saturday night at Soldier Field. In the first match, the Fire will host its Eastern Conference rival D.C. United at 7 p.m. CT, while the second game will feature popular Mexican side Club America against Pachuca in a clash of Mexican First Division teams. Tickets to the doubleheader are still available, with individual game tickets ranging from $20 (Firehouse) to $45 (VIP). Tickets 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 Fire's rendering of Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night this year promises to showcase Latin America's rich musical and soccer heritage. The evening's events will begin at 5:30 p.m. with musical acts at the Budweiser stadium featuring Mariachi Mundamenta and Chicago Samba. During a pre-game ceremony, the Fire and Budweiser will recognize the three community organizations participating in the Budweiser Futbolazo, a grassroots initiative that will donate $500 to each of the non-profit organizations for every goal the Fire scores during that night's match. The 2004 recipients of the Budweiser Futbolazo program are: El Valor, the Little Village Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois State Police Association. In addition, this year's Hispanic Heroes, a collection of 50 Chicagoland Hispanic citizens recognized for their contributions to the Latin community, will be recognized during a halftime ceremony on the field.
Fire joins ISSA for Wednesday press conference at room 22 in Downtown Chicago
The Chicago Fire and the Illinois State Soccer Association (ISSA) will host a joint press conference this Wednesday, Sept. 1 at Room 22 Restaurant, located at 22 E. Hubbard in downtown Chicago, at 2 p.m. CT to make an announcement regarding the Chicago Fire's new stadium in Bridgeview. Bridgeview Mayor Steve Landek is scheduled to be on hand, as well as Chicago Fire GM Peter Wilt and ISSA President/CEO George L. Chazaro. The event will also serve to preview the ISSA's Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Sept. 18, as the organization will honor a 2004 class that features Wilt and Chicago Sun-Times soccer writer/columnist Len Ziehm.
Mexican forward Alejandro Nava latest striker on trial for Fire
Mexican forward Alejandro Nava will be training with the Fire at Lake Forest College as a trialist through Friday. Nava, 24, has played for some of the most famed clubs in Mexican soccer including America (2002-2003), Chivas (1999-2000 and 2001), Atlante (2000-2001) and Jaguares (2003-2004). A native of Mexico City, Nava has international experience, scoring three goals for Chivas in the 2000 edition of the prestigious Merconorte Cup. The striker also played for Mexico's Under-23 National Team during Olympic Qualifying in 2000, scoring a goal in Mexico's 3-0 victory over Panama on Apr. 25, 2000 in Hershey, PA. Nava, who emerged from Chivas' youth development program, also played for Mexico's U-20 side in the FIFA World Youth Championships in Nigeria in 1999.
Brown and Marsch raise two records
Defender C.J. Brown and midfielder Jesse Marsch performed a difficult task - moving the rock-solid Zach Thornton - with their appearances in last Saturday's 4-1 loss at Dallas, as the duo removed the former goalkeeper from a share of the lead in a pair of categories in the Fire record books. With his 163rd appearance in the starting XI, Brown moved past Thornton to take sole possession of the club's games started record. Brown and Marsch also trumped Thornton for the team's all-time lead in games played, as they both saw time in their 165th contest as a member of the "Men in Red." Marsch wasn't done there in regards to rewriting the record books, as he also tied his fellow "Fire Original" Brown for a mark that doesn't carry much prestige - the midfielder picked up his club record 30th yellow card in a Fire uniform in the 18th minute Saturday night.