Roundup: Fireside, Grant Ward, Champs League, More

Don't you make me look like a fool Cruz Azul. My reputation is on your shoulders. - John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

The Chicago Fire releases its latest edition of their digital magazine, soccer fans have a lot to look forward to Wednesday, and things are happening in Europe

I love the idea of the Fireside digital magazine. The Chicago Fire released the latest edition of its digital magazine Tuesday and it includes what seems to be a lot of great content.

I have not read it all but I enjoyed what I have read so far, which includes a question-and-answer session with C.J. Brown and a profile on Jhon Kennedy Hurtado. A lot of other great content is available including a preseason recap, a run down of new players, a question-and-answer with Lovel Palmer and a piece on the Chicago Fire Soccer Center designed to be a training ground for the city's youth.

It's nice to see the club take this sort of initiative. It is certainly not enough, but it is a step in the right direction. The more the brand gets out there the better and this free content can't hurt.

Ward closer to fitness

Fire loanee Grant Ward continues his recovery from the metatarsal fracture which sidelined him in preseason. Yesterday, he tweeted this:

Here's to hoping Ward is cleared soon and gets himself to Chicago post-haste.

Big soccer Wednesday

If you're a big CONCACAF Champions League junkie like I am, then Wednesday is a huge deal. If you just enjoy MLS, then you get treated to New York vs Houston in a midweek clash. And if for some reason you are not interested in either, you have some stuff going down in Europe that involves Real Madrid and Bayern Munich.

Cruz Azul let everyone me down when they came out with a scoreless draw in their home stadium during the first leg of the CONCACAF finals. But I am not going to stop believing now. I have sang the praise of the Blues all tournament and I still think they are the better side. They get an away goal advantage and should have enough to reign supreme once again. It would be like their 100th time or something.

I'm equally excited for the midweek MLS clash between New York and Houston mainly because I made sure I have am stocked with players from both clubs for my fantasy team. New York showed some real class in last week's midweek clash, particularly Eric Alexander. If Alexander can keep that form up, the Red Bulls should walk away with a second victory and really get the season going.

Chicago ruled out of the postseason?

The fine folks at mlssoccer.com want you to worry about the Chicago Fire missing the playoffs. And they also don't want you to worry about it.

Chicago – along with Chivas USA, Portland, New York and Philadelphia – has failed to reach eight points by the seventh game. Apparently only two teams with less than eight points in the first seven matches have qualified for the postseason since 2011 when the knockout round was introduced.

However, the draw rate is way up this year at 40 percent of matches  through this point compared to 29 percent of matches at the same time last year. So it's all up for grabs.

To put your mind at ease, maybe, American Soccer Analysis gives the Fire a 54 percent chance of making the playoffs  – the same percentage as Toronto FC.

The USA is the Grim Reaper of the Group of Death

So says Bayern Munich legend Karl-Heinz Rummenigge. That's right. An executive from the greatest soccer club on planet Earth says the United States has what it takes to edge out (I would assume) Portugal (because you know, Cristiano Ronaldo and all.)

Is it because Jurgen Klinsmann also happens to be German? I'm just going to say that's ridiculous because I want to believe. I am going to say Rummenigge said it because he saw what players like Graham Zusi and Clint Dempsey (AND JULIAN GREEN!) are all about and was all like 'well I'm just glad those dudes aint in the Bundesliga.'

Either way, it's cool to know someone outside of America thinks the team has a chance in that brutal group.

Chelsea play to a scoreless draw at Atletico Madrid

I've said it once and I'll say it again, Jose Mourinho would be the worst bus driver ever. The man is just too comfortable parking that particular vehicle that he just might not make it to school on time.

I won't criticize though. Chelsea went on the road and earned a much-needed 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid to give themselves a fighting chance in the return leg of the UEFA Champions League Semifinals. Granted Chelsea left the match with red cards and injuries, they could have a chance. There is no doubt they are going to throw away their Premier League match against Liverpool this weekend to hold out for a miracle in Europe. But Petr Cech is out for the year.

I give Atletico Madrid an 85 percent chance of advancing despite being on the road, but you never know.

Manchester United already has the next manager pegged

It sure seems that way. From everything I (and I'm sure you) have read, Louis Van Gaal seems to be the next man to take the reigns. There is no doubt the Netherlands national team coach has the credentials and the connections to Manchester United with Robin Van Persie on the side.

It appears if he were to be selected, he would be the short-term solution until Manchester United could convince (throw an insane amount of cash at) manager extraordinaire Juergen Klopp. The Borussia Dortmund boss has said he won't leave, but give it three years. Trust me. He'll be a Red Devil.

Pep Guardiola though? Ha! No way any manager leaves the best club in the world. Sorry Manchester United, but Bayern Munich, Real Madrid and Barcelona are all more attractive positions than whatever you have to offer.

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