There's so much going on in the Chicago Fire universe right now, it's hard to pick where to start. Let's set the tone the same way Section 8 Chicago did with their wonderful tifo display on Saturday night. 'For Two Years Our Flames Have Smoldered - Tonight We Reignite the Fire'. That was beautiful. This team has struggled and seemed directionless in 2010 and 2011. This year feels different. The results are there. The Fire are 8-2-4 in their last 14 MLS Regular Season games going back to last year. The same core is back and they look ready to roll.
Cory Gibbs' quote from Anthony Zilis' article yesterday stuck out to me
"Jalil and I are a year-and-a-half into this thing, and our communication on switching men was spectacular," Gibbs said. "[Outside backs] Gonzalo [Segares] and [Dan] Gargan kept the back line tight, unlike other games when we can get stretched out. Nothing got behind us."
The consistency is showing and the results are continuing for this Chicago Fire squad that is 8-2-4 in their last 14 games.
Dominic Oduro's goal against Philadelphia has been nominated for Goal of the Week. Go to the link and vote his goal up.
After the break, some eclectic stories and links to some academy/youth news.
A German website conducted an interview with Arne Friedrich. They asked some pretty fun questions that made for an amusing Google translation. Just two highlights:
TIME ONLINE: Al Capone-plate? Or sausage? It will give you many good Polish butcher.
Friedrich: It is said often, there are only in the U.S. fast food crap. Not true.
TIME ONLINE: R. Kelly, Michael Jordan and now Arne Friedrich. Why is it you actually ended up in Chicago?
When did R. Kelly get before Michael Jordan? Why is R. Kelly in front of Kanye West? Then again this is the country that adores David Hasselhoff...
TIME ONLINE: How many Batman movies were filmed in Chicago?
Friedrich: I do not know, I am not familiar with bats out so well.
TIME ONLINE: Batman Begins and The Dark Knight ..
Friedrich: I only know that the fountain, which can be seen in the intro of Al Bundy's Awful nice family should be in Chicago. I'll be watching the case on every time.
Arne didn't know about Batman but his knowledge about the sports teams, what Chicago means, and some other facts surprised me.
On a more serious look on MLS from an international outlet, I was impressed with the Guardian's review of MLS action in week 3. Solid understanding of the rules and even the fan culture. Great mention for the Section 8 banner.
Back to domestic, the Chicago Fire held their second annual Chicago Fire Juniors Summit this past weekend. Chicago Fire team writerJeff Crandall has the story.
Last but not least, a big congratulations to the Chicago Fire U-16 and U-18 teams for another successful weekend. Both squads played against Vardar SC Freiburg in the Silverdome and the Crew Soccer Academy Wolves in the humbler accommodations of Jaycee Park in Livonia, MI. The U-16 squad defeated Vardar 1-0 and tied the Crew 2-2 to improve to a 5-2-2 record. The U-18 squad crushed Vardar 6-0 and put aside the Crew 2-1 to improve to a 7-2-0 record.
The U-18 squad is especially making waves. If you go back to December 3, 2011 and count the Development Academy Carolina Challenge Cup matches, the U-18s are an incredible 10-0-0. They have outscored their opponents 33-4. Expectations will be very high for this group when the National Championships and U.S Soccer Development Academy Playoffs come around this summer.
[UPDATE] This was all ready to go before the unfortunate news about last night's US-El Salvador draw in U-23 play. To quote Zach Woosley, Sean Johnson let in a 'pedestrian shot' in the 5th minute of stoppage time. The goal gave El Salvador a 3-3 tie and that's all they needed to advance. The USMNT U-23 squad will not be going to the Olympics. Sean Johnson will return to the Chicago Fire immediately giving head coach Frank Klopas a decision to make on who to start in goal this weekend: Johnson or current start Paolo Tornaghi.