The Chicago Fire will not be kicking their feet up and relaxing during the upcoming off week. The team will be hosting Minnesota United FC, formerly known as the Minnesota Stars FC, of the North America Soccer League in a friendly this upcoming Friday. Per the press release from Chicago-Fire.com:
CHICAGO, Ill. (March 25, 2013) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Monday that it will play a friendly match against Minnesota United FC at Toyota Park on Friday, March 29 at 10:00 a.m. CT. The match is open to the public and free to attend. The Fire will challenge the NASL side during a bye week in MLS play.
Formerly the NSC Minnesota Stars, the side began play in 2010 as a team owned and operated by the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. The next year, the Stars won the 2011 NASL crown in the first season of the re-launched league. On January 9, 2012, the Stars unveiled their new look and announced that the team would now be known as Minnesota Stars FC.
Minnesota United FC are coached by former Fire midfielder Manny Lagos, who appeared 10 times with the Fire from 1998-99.
This is the third consecutive year that the Fire will take on the side from Minnesota. Goals from Dominic Oduro, Daniel Paladini and Orr Barouch led the Fire to a 3-1 victory over Minnesota in their final preseason match March 9, 2012.
The Fire will return to MLS action when they welcome the New York Red Bulls to Toyota Park on Sunday, April 7 at 4:00 p.m. CT live on ESPN2 and La Ley 107.9. Tickets for the match are available by calling 888-MLS-Fire or by visiting www.Chicago-Fire.com.
I think this is a great time to have a friendly. This was most likely planned out in advance of the season, so the timing is probably a coincidence. Regardless, the Fire need as much time playing together as possible to get some semblance of chemistry with each other. There were definitely some good moments against Chivas USA on Sunday, but this team still a long way to go.
The Fire will not be taking on a bunch of slouches on Friday. Minnesota United FC were the 2012 NASL Final runners-up. They had to beat the San Antionio Scorpions, who had the league's best regular season record, to get to the NASL Final. In the two leg final against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, Minnesota took the first game at home 2-0 but lost the second leg 3-1. Tampa Bay beat Minnesota 3-2 on penalties.