Gibbs will miss 4-6 months

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Gibbs will miss 4-6 months

Its a good thing Arne Friedrich, the veteran German defender, is ready to play. The Fire needs him badly now, following Tuesdays surprise announcement that central defender Cory Gibbs will be sidelined 4-6 months following knee surgery.

Gibbs went down during a training session last week and sat out Saturdays friendly against the University of Louisville at Toyota Park, the match in which Friedrich made his Fire debut. Club staffers waited until after Tuesdays surgery at Glenbrook Hospital to release word on Gibbs status. The surgery, to repair a torn meniscus in Gibbs right knee, was performed by orthopedic surgeon Dr. Jason Koh of NorthShore Medical Group.

"The last couple days, after hearing about the injury, was basically another low point in my life, said Gibbs, in a statement released by the team. "With the support from my wife, family and teammates and with prayer, I definitely have a more positive outlook. Ive dealt with injuries in the past and have come back to perform at a high level. I hate missing training and contributing in games, so from the first day after the operation Im going to do everything I can to get back as soon as possible."

Gibbs, 32, was a mainstay in the back last season, his first with the Fire. With 19 caps for the U.S. national team, Gibbs was the Fires Defender of the Year in 2011 and scored a memorable goal against Englands Manchester United in a friendly at sold out Soldier Field. Along the way Gibbs also served as a mentor for Jalil Anibaba in his rookie season.

Anibaba played beside Gibbs in the center of the four-man back line in the first three games of this campaign, with Gibbs on the field every minute. Friedrich will move into a center back spot now, but declared himself only 70 percent fit after playing 88 minutes in the Fires 1-0 win over the Louisville collegians.

If a replacement is needed for either Anibaba or Friedrich in Sundays home match against the Houston Dynamo, the logical player off the bench would be Austin Berry. The Fires first-round selection (ninth overall) in Januarys SuperDraft, Berry has yet to play in a Major League Soccer match.

Last season the Fire was deep at the center back position, with Gibbs having Josip Mikulic, Yamith Cuesta and Anibaba as available partners. Family issues kept Mikulic from rejoining the Fire for this season, and contract issues led to Cuesta leaving the club.

Anibaba started as the right back in his rookie season, but coach Frank Klopas preferred him more in the center after the acquisition of Dan Gargan in a trade with Toronto FC late in the campaign. Gargan will start on the right on Sunday, assuming a sprained toe on his left foot has healed. That injury kept Gargan out of the Fires last MLS game -- a 2-0 loss at Colorado on April 1 -- and he only jogged on the sidelines during Saturdays friendly.

The starter on the left side will again be Gonzalo Segares. In his eighth season with the Fire, Segares will make his 151st regular season appearance, tying him with Jim Curtin for ninth all-time on the Fires career games-played list.

Soldier Field reportedly a finalist to host 2017 MLS All-Star Game

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Soldier Field reportedly a finalist to host 2017 MLS All-Star Game

According to a report from Crain's Chicago Business, Chicago's Soldier Field may be in the running to host next year's MLS All-Star Game.

The report says the city and Major League Soccer are discussing Chicago hosting the All-Star Game, which includes a number of other events in the lead up to the game.

Toyota Park, which is located in suburban Bridgeview, hosted the All-Star Game in 2006 less than two months after the stadium opened. Soldier Field has never hosted the MLS All-Star Game.

The Chicago Fire played in Soldier Field from the team's expansion season in 1998 until Soldier Field renovations in 2002. The Fire moved back to the renovated Soldier Field midway through the 2003 season before heading to Toyota Park.

If Soldier Field hosts the All-Star Game, it would be the first non-MLS venue to host the game since 2010 when Houston's Reliant Stadium hosted the MLS All-Stars against Manchester United.

This year's All-Star Game was in San Jose's year-and-a-half old Avaya Stadium. Arsenal beat the MLS All-Stars 2-1.

Stan Bowman likes Blackhawks prospects' potential to fill holes

Stan Bowman likes Blackhawks prospects' potential to fill holes

The Blackhawks have holes to fill on their roster, especially among the forwards. And general manager Stan Bowman reiterated that the team will look from within to fill them.

“The guys we have are the ones that are here, and our team’s going to come from this group,” said Bowman, who addressed the media on Tuesday. “We’ve only had a few days of camp here but it’s been a bright start. They’re all full of energy, excitement, knowing they have a chance to make the team. Maybe it’s been different than in previous years when they’ve looked at the lineup and wondered where they might fit. And now, they know there’s a possibility they can make the team if they pay well. That’s what these games are going to be, starting tomorrow, we’re going to have an opportunity to see how they perform in a game setting.”

It’s still way too early to say where some of those young players fit; Patrick Kane just joined camp on Tuesday and several other veteran Blackhawks who were playing at the World Cup of Hockey are either still there or just returned from Toronto. But Bowman’s liked what he’s seen from several prospects. Some of them, including Nick Schmaltz, Tyler Motte and Alexandre Fortin, who the Blackhawks signed on Sunday, are expected to play in Wednesday’s preseason opener vs. the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A big concern is still who’s going to play on the top line with Jonathan Toews. Richard Panik and Nick Schmaltz are two possibilities – Schmaltz was on the left side during Tuesday morning’s skate. He’s primarily been a center but, as it usually goes with the Blackhawks, forwards have to be versatile. But Bowman wasn’t sure who would play in that top left-wing spot, or in other spots, at this juncture.

“I think it’s hard to give a direct answer to that because we have to see what Joel [Quenneville] thinks when he gets here, as well,” said Bowman on Quenneville, who’s still with Team Canada at the World Cup of Hockey. “We have to see how they perform in the exhibition games. But stability is a nice thing. I think having a familiar line mate can help you in a lot of situations. But as the year goes on, sometimes things get stale or injuries happen. You have to have flexibility for different players to float into those roles.”

North American fun

Bowman himself recently returned from the World Cup of Hockey, where he was co-general manager of Team North America. That group brought a tremendous amount of excitement to the tournament, despite not moving onto the semifinal round.

“It was a blast to be part of that group. I had so much fun. You never know how it’s going to go when you’re first asked to be part of it but we had a great time. It was a treat even to watch those guys in practice.”

Liking Forsling

Bowman has liked what he’s seen from defenseman Gustav Forsling, who’s vying for a spot on the Blackhawks’ roster. Forsling could also return to the Swedish league.

“He was very impressive there [at Traverse City]. I thought comfortable, poised, very talented in both transitioning the offense, making plays. So there's a lot to like there,” Bowman said. “We're certainly going to see how he plays in these exhibition games. Whether he benefitted from going to Sweden? That's a great league, so if he does end up back there, he's going to continue to grow his game. But we haven't made that decision yet. We want to see how things go here.”