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Kappelhoff, Gilliland, McCaffrey join star-studded line-up for MLS Skills challenge

Both of Chicago’s professional soccer teams were well represented on Sunday

Courtesy of MLS on Twitter (@MLS)

On Sunday, Chicago Fire centerback Johan Kappelhof and Chicago Red Stars players Arin Gilliland and Stephanie McCaffrey joined a series of MLS legends and professional freestylers for the MLS Skills Challenge.

Kappelhof, who teamed up with Fire legend Brian McBride, freestyler Mo Ali and Gilliland (White team), went toe-to-toe against Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri, former MLS journeyman Dwayne De Rosario and freestyler Indi Cowie (Blue team) in a series of FIFA-inspired skill challenges.

The first of the three challenges put the competitors in the center of a ring of mini-goals. As balls came into the player, they were challenged to settle the ball and pass it into the goal that was lit up and beeping at that time.

McCaffrey and Cowie bested Ali and Kappelhof to give the Blue team a 1-0 lead after the first event.

Next on the list was FIFA’s Bucket Challenge. In this drill, competitors were asked to chip balls into a series of large, skee-ball-like buckets. Competitors earned points for successfully landing the balls into the buckets, with finishes into the farther, smaller buckets earning the most points.

“It was really hard, to be honest,” Valeri told MLSsoccer.com. “I didn’t warm up, so I wasn’t warm enough, but it was fun.”

McBride beat out De Resario and Gilliland topped Valeri in the Bucket Challenge to put the White team back on level begging after two events.

Ultimately, it was penalties that were used to determine a winner. Positioned in the goal were eight square targets, each worth different amounts based on the difficulty of the finish. After two rounds, all four players had hit at least one target, and the Blue team emerged victorious based on points earned.

The loss didn’t damper the spirits of the Fire’s stud centerback, though.

“It’s great to represent the Fire in your own city, during the MLS All-Star Week,’ Kappelhof told MLSsoccer.com. “It’s nice to do.”

The MLS All-Star team, captained by Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, take on Real Madrid at Solider Field on Wednesday.