Fire look to get back to winning ways

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Fire look to get back to winning ways

Fire coach Frank Klopas had just one basic reaction to his teams poor showing before its first sellout home crowd of the season last week: forget about it.

Thats undoubtedly good advice. The 2-0 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy wasnt indicative of the Fires play of late. Prior to the shaky showing the Fire (8-6-4) had a four-game unbeaten streak.

"Our movement and being dynamic and being off the ball wasnt as sharp, Klopas said of the dropoff in his teams performance." You have to move on, and there will be setbacks. Its how we react to them. Youre going to have games like that throughout the season.

An immediate recovery is possible on Saturday when the Vancouver Whitecaps come to Toyota Park. The Whitecaps should be travel-weary; they played their fifth straight road match on Wednesday, losing 3-2 to lowly Toronto FC. That was the third meeting of the season for the Canadian rivals, but the first in Major League Soccer play. They met for the Canadian Championship in a two-game aggregate goal playoff, Toronto FC winning that title in the same matchup for the second straight year.

Still, Vancouver (8-5-6) could be the most improved team in Major League Soccer. As an expansion team in 2011 the Whitecaps finished 6-18-10 and were last in the Western Conference. The Fire, though, couldnt beat Vancouver last season, going 0-1-1. Saturday marks the only meeting of the clubs this regular season.

Therell be a Chicago flavor to the visitors. Vancouver general manager Tom Soehn developed his soccer roots in the Chicago Kickers youth programs and was a defender on the Fires MLS and U.S. Open Cup champions in the augural 1998 campaign and was a Fire assistant coach from 2001-03. John Thorrington, injury-riddled in six seasons with the Fire, has kept his career going with Vancouver, which acquired him in the expansion draft. Vancouver captain Jay DeMerit was on the Fires first Premier Development League team in 2001. Jay Nolly, a reserve goalkeeper for the Fire, was a Whitecaps netminder last season and earned the first MLS shutout in the history of the Vancouver franchise.

While Klopas doesnt have an injury issue to deal with this week, he does need to find the right playmaking midfielder. He used Chris Rolfe, Alex and Rafael Robayo in the role once manned by the departed Sebastian Grazzini against the Galaxy. None could get the Fire going.

There also could be a change in the back. Klopas didnt use usual right back Dan Gargan against Los Angeles, going with Jalil Anibaba there instead. It was an Anibaba handball that led to Robbie Keanes penalty kick that provided the only goal the Galaxy needed.

Klopas isnt pointing fingers for last weeks loss, though.

"It wasnt just one or two players, and we have to move on, he said. "In the end its important to be where we set our eyes in the beginning (back in the playoffs after a two-year absence). This is a strong group.

Phillips DT Chris Elmore commits to Syracuse

Phillips DT Chris Elmore commits to Syracuse

Phillips senior three-star ranked defensive tackle Chris Elmore (6-foot-0, 270 pounds) has given Syracuse his verbal commitment while on his official visit.

Elmore, who first announced his decision via his Twitter account, was asked why he decided to commit to the Orangemen.

"(Syracuse) is the place for me," according to Elmore via text. "I just feel it and I didn't want to pass up a chance to play for Syracuse and in the ACC."

Elmore, who originally gave then Western Michigan head coach PJ Fleck his verbal commitment back last summer reopened his recruiting process once Fleck left WMU to take the head coaching job at Minnesota.

Elmore is now the 20th known verbal commitment to Syracuse and the first from Chicagoland in the Class of 2017. 

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

The Blackhawks made a minor league deal on Saturday, announcing the acquisition of forward Michael Latta from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for defenseman Cameron Schilling.

Latta, 25, has two goals and four assists in 29 games this season with the Ontario (Calif.) Reign of the American Hockey League.

He has four goals and 13 assists in 113 career games in the National Hockey League, all with the Washington Capitals from 2013-16.

Latta, who was a third-round pick (No. 72 overall) by the Nashville Predators in 2009, will report to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. He carries a $600,000 cap hit, and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Schilling ranked second among defensemen on the IceHogs with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 40 games, and had a minus-3 rating. The 28-year-old blue liner signed a two-year contract worth $575,000 per season with the Blackhawks in July 2015.