Damani Ralph

Weekly update: Fire out for qualifiers

Fire to Release Protected Player List for MLS Expansion Draft on Wednesday
Herron, Ralph, and Williams Prepare to Round Out CONCACAF Semifinal Qualifying
Capano Heads to Florida to "Camp Out" With Sigi Schmid's U.S. U-20 National Team

Fire to Release Names of Dozen Protected Players for MLS Expansion Draft Wednesday Afternoon
By 4 p.m. CT (5 p.m. ET) Monday afternoon, the player personnel staff of the Chicago Fire will have turned into Major League Soccer its lists of protected and unprotected players in advance of the 2004 MLS Expansion Draft, which will take place this Friday, Nov. 19 at 3:00 p.m. CT. The League's second-ever Expansion Draft will be broadcast live to a nationwide audience on ESPNews.

Chicago and the nine other existing MLS franchises will be allowed to protect 12 of the non-developmental players on its 24-man roster, leaving the others exposed for selection by CD Chivas USA and ReAL Salt Lake, the 11th and 12th Major League Soccer clubs that will begin play during MLS's 10th season in 2005. Automatically protected are the Fire's three Developmental Roster players - goalkeeper Matt Pickens and defenders Denny Clanton and Leonard Griffin - and the team's lone Nike Project-40 Program member, midfielder Craig Capano, leaving decisions to be made on 20 of the team's 24 players. The Fire will release the names on the protected and unprotected rosters this Wednesday, Nov. 17.

Fire Trio Has Work to Do Wednesday to Help Teams Advance in CONCACAF Qualifying
Three-and-a-half weeks after the Fire's MLS season ended, it is "do-or-die" time all over again for three members of the "Men in Red" this Wednesday, Nov. 17, as midfielder Andy Williams and forwards Damani Ralph and Andy Herron are expected to suit up their respective National Teams in the final game of the semifinal round of CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

Ralph (11 caps, 1goal) and Williams (82 caps, 12 goals) have joined the Jamaican National Team, who will travel to Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH to take on the United States Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. CT (live on ESPN2). Despite holding onto second place in the Group A standings, the "Reggae Boyz" will face an uphill climb to hang onto the second spot, as only a win will guarantee the Caribbean's most successful side a spot in next year's Final Round of CONCACAF Qualifying. Jamaica (1-1-3, 6 points) has never defeated the U.S.A. (3-0-2, 11 pts.), who has already clinched one of Group A's two spots in the Final Round and carries into the match a 28-game unbeaten streak against CONCACAF foes. A draw against the U.S. coupled with a tie between Panama (1-2-2, 5 pts.) and El Salvador (1-3-1, 4 pts.) will also see the Reggae Boyz through to the next round. The scenario for advancement is a bit easier for Herron (15 caps, 4 goals) and his Costa Rica side, who can sneak out as the second qualifier from Group B with a victory or draw against Honduras. Wednesday evening's contest between the "Ticos" (3-2-0, 9 pts.) and Honduras (1-1-3, 6 pts.) will take place at the Estadio Francisco Morazán in San Pedro Sula, Honduras at 5:00 p.m. CT.

Capano Camping Out With U-20's in Florida
Fire midfielder Craig Capano is one of eight young professional players that are taking part in a weeklong training camp with the U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team in Sunrise, FL that began today and will end next Monday, Nov. 22. The squad, under the direction of new Head Coach Sigi Schmid, will train throughout the week, with the camp culminating in a pair of exhibition matches against their U-20 counterparts from Honduras on Friday, Nov. 19 and Mexico on Sunday, Nov. 21 at Lockhart Stadium in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Both games will be part of doubleheaders that will also include the defending U-20 World Champions from Brazil. Schmid is expected to use the camp to prepare for the U-20 CONCACAF Qualifying Tournament that will take place from January 12-16, 2005. Capano is sure to be a lock for the U.S. side in the tournament after serving as the U-20 squad's captain for much of the past year.

Fire Juniors Head South of the Border This Week to Train With Sister Club Monarcas Morelia
The Chicago Fire Juniors U-16 Boys team will be leaving this Saturday, Nov. 20 for a nine-day trip to Mexico, where the squad will train with its counterparts from the Fire's Mexican League sister team, Monarcas Morelia. While the main goal of the trip is to expose the Wheaton-based team to the differences in professional training styles in the United States and Mexico, the Fire Juniors will also take part in a number of exhibition contests against Mexican teams from its age group.

FireWorks for Kids Foundation to Host Chicagoland Premiere of "Christmas with the Kranks" on Nov. 23
After its successful event surrounding the film "Mona Lisa Smile" last November, the FireWorks for Kids Foundation - the charitable arm of the Chicago Fire - announced last week that it will be hosting another Chicagoland movie premiere during the holidays, this time for the new Revolution Films movie "Christmas with the Kranks." The special event will take place on Nov. 23 at the Regal Cinemas in Lincolnshire, IL, and all proceeds from the movie premiere will go towards the FireWorks for Kids Foundation. The film, a new holiday-themed comedy based on John Grisham's novel Skipping Christmas, stars Tim Allen, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Dan Akroyd and is scheduled for a nationwide release on Nov. 24. To receive more information on the event, please call the FireWorks for Kids Foundation office at 312-705-7260 or 312-705-7218, or visit the Community section of www.Chicago-Fire.com in the upcoming weeks for more details.

Four "Men in Red" Nominated by Sports Profiles for 17th Annual Chicago Sports Fans Choice Awards
The Chicago Fire and Sports Profiles Plus have announced that four members of the "Men in Red" - midfielder Chris Armas, defender Jim Curtin, midfielder Jesse Marsch and goalkeeper Henry Ring - are among the nominees up for awards at the 17th Annual Chicago Sports Fans Choice Awards. This year's Chicago Sports Fans Choice Awards will be held on Thursday, Dec. 9 at the Chicago Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont, IL. Armas, the Fire's captain, and Curtin, the 2004 Fire Defender of the Year winner, join a list of Chicago's most talented athletes among the candidates for Chicago's Most Valuable Player Award. After enjoying a breakout season in net for the Fire, Ring has deservedly earned his spot on the ballot for the Chicago's Rising Star Award, while Marsch's continued efforts in the community has earned him his second consecutive Humanitarian Award from Sports Profiles. Fans will be able to vote for their favorites in the Most Valuable Player and Rising Star categories online at www.sppsports.com from now through Nov. 29.

Boucicaut Helps Haiti in More Ways Than One in Exhibition Win Over Brazil's '94 All-Stars
Fire midfielder Alexandre Boucicaut joined his fellow members of the Haitian National Team last Saturday night and helped the squad to a 2-1 victory over members of Brazil's 1994 World Cup winning side in an exhibition match at the Orange Bowl in Miami, FL. The contest, part of Brazil's current schedule that is serving as a farewell tour for several of the squad's legendary players, also served as a benefit match for UNICEF, as the charity continues its efforts to help Haiti recover from the devastation caused by Hurricanes Ivan and Jeanne in September. A crowd of 18,312 fans flocked to the Orange Bowl for the double bill of international soccer, which also featured Mexico's 5-0 win over St. Kitts and Nevis in a CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying tilt. Five dollars from every ticket sold for the doubleheader went to UNICEF, who will invest the funds towards improving conditions in the Caribbean nation.

Help Out Haiti Through the Boucicaut Hurricane Relief Fund
Chicago Fire and Haitian National Team midfielder Alexandre Boucicaut is spearheading a relief effort for victims of the hurricanes that have destroyed much of Haiti over the past two months. In conjunction with Illinois Youth Soccer, the Boucicaut Hurricane Relief Fund will be collecting soccer equipment and monetary donations to rebuild the Caribbean nation's youth soccer programs and provide relief to the island's beleaguered residents. After donating one of his MLS paychecks to help out his friends and family back home, Boucicaut is hoping to raise greater awareness of the difficult conditions in the country after the natural disasters caused heavy damage and killed more than 1,600 people. Boucicaut will be traveling back to his native Haiti in December and will personally distribute the collected goods to youth soccer programs and the national youth soccer academy, while monetary donations will go to general relief efforts through non-profit organizations. The distribution event will provide a treat for Haitian children, as the 22-year-old soccer star enjoys the popularity of a national hero in the small Caribbean country. Addresses to send both soccer equipment and monetary donations can be found below. The deadline for the receipt of all donations has been set for Wednesday, Dec. 1.

New and gently used equipment can be shipped to:
Boucicaut Hurricane Relief Fund
c/o Illinois Youth Soccer
939 Industrial Drive
Bensenville, IL 60106

Monetary donations can be sent to:
Boucicaut Hurricane Relief Fund
c/o Illinois Youth Soccer
1655 S. Arlington Heights Rd.
Arlington Heights, IL 60005
(Checks can be made to Illinois Youth Soccer with "Boucicaut Hurricane Relief Fund" in the memo line.)


  • The Fire's birthday parade continues this week, as it will be Alexandre Boucicaut's turn to turn one year older this Thursday, Nov. 18. The talented midfielder from Haiti will turn 23 years old.
  • The Fire front office would like to congratulate Emigdio Gamboa on his promotion within the ranks of the Fire. Gamboa recently became the Manager of Hispanic Marketing for Chicago's MLS club.
  • Despite a great run of form in during the middle of their season, the Fire's Mexican League sister team, Monarcas Morelia, saw its bid for one of eight playoff spots in the 2004 COMEX Apertura season fall short after dueling to a scoreless draw against Pumas at Morelos Stadium last Saturday night. The result put Morelia (5-7-4, 19 pts.) four points behind second-place Pumas (7-7-2, 23 pts.) in the Group 1 table with one match remaining in the regular season, meaning the "Monarchs" fell short of claiming one of the top two spots in the group that would have automatically advanced them into post-season play. While the top two third place teams in each group also advance to the playoffs, Chivas of Guadalajara (Group 2) and Monterrey (Group 3) have already outdistanced themselves enough from the pack to guarantee a spot in the tournament. Morelia will wrap up the "closing" season this Sunday, Nov. 21 when it travels to Mexico City and the Estadio Azteca to face leaders Group 1 leaders Atlante (7-6-3, 24 pts.) at 2:00 p.m. CT.

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