Offseason heating up for Fire as draft's second phase nears

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Offseason heating up for Fire as draft's second phase nears

The Fire was the only club to make a selection in last weeks first stage of Major League Soccers re-entry draft. More of the circuits 19 teams are sure to participate in Fridays second phase.
Maicon Santos, a forward for D.C. United, was picked by the Fire last week. Clubs picking in the first phase must give the selected player a 5 percent pay raise over this current contract. In the second phase clubs and players can negotiate a contract and teams can even draft the players they put on the original list.
That means the Fire could still keep goalkeeper Jay Nolly, midfielder Corben Bone or defender Dan Gargan. They werent claimed in the first stage, Gargan being a last-minute addition to the list of available players announced by the league.
Thirteen of the 52 players on the leagues initial list withdrew from the re-entry process just before the draft began. Some, most notably the Fires Gonzalo Segares, reached a contract agreement with their former team just before the drafting began.
Among the players still on the list for the second phase are Juan Pablo Angel and Danny Califf of Chivas USA, Conor Casey and Tyrone Marshall of Colorado, Julian DeGuzman and Kevin Hartman of FC Dallas, and Ramiro Corrales and Khari Stephenson of San Jose. Former Fire players Chad Barrett (Los Angeles) and John Thorrington (Vancouver) are also available in the draft.
MLS started conducting a re-entry draft in 2010, and the Fire acquired defender Cory Gibbs that time. A starter until knee injury sidelined him last March, Gibbs announced his retirement last month. The Fire has the No. 11 pick in this years second phase of the re-entry draft.
While that draft is in progress the Fire will begin its fifth annual open tryout at the Bridgeview Sports & Soccer Dome. About 150 players will participate on Friday, and the clubs technical staff will invite the most promising ones back for another session on Saturday. After Saturdays selection the staff will name one player to participate in Januarys first phase of preseason training.
Pari Pantazopoulos, winner of the open tryout in 2011, survived three stages of preseason training and spent the full season on the roster. He made his debut with the first team in a U.S. Open Cup match against Rochester and also got playing time in an international friendly against Englands Manchester United. Pantazopoulos, however, didnt make the roster for the 2012 campaign.
Red Stars names coaches
The Chicago Red Stars, preparing for a return to the new, still unnamed womens professional league, will retain Rory Dames as head coach. He joined the Red Stars after their first venture into a womens major league but helped the club to the Womens Professional Soccer League finals in 2011 and the WPSL Elite Finals last season. The Red Stars also won the 2012 U.S. National Cup.
Dames first assistant will be Stephanie Foster, a former Northwestern star who coached her alma maters team from 2006-11. Also on the staff will be second assistant Christian Lavers and goalkeeper coach Trae Manny.
Soul elevates Marojevic
Manny Rojas was replaced as head coach of the Chicago Soul, a new team in the Major Indoor Soccer League, this week after his team got off to a 2-7 start. Novi Marojevic, a mainstay with three Major Indoor Soccer League clubs the Chicago Storm, Rockford Rampage and Chicago Riot has replaced Rojas.
Marojevic will make his head-coaching debut on Friday when the defending MISL champion Milwaukee Wave visits the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates. Milwaukees visit will mark only the second home game for the Soul.
MLS names SuperDraft hopefuls
The MLS SuperDraft will be held Jan. 17 at the Indiana Convention Center in Indianapolis and the players up for selection there will participate in a combine Jan. 11-15 at Central Broward Regional Park in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., prior to the selection process. The combine is again being held in conjunction with the National Soccer Coaches Association Convention.
MLS announced 54 collegiate players who will participate in the combine. They include goalkeeper Luis Soffner of NCAA champion Indiana and two Notre Dame mainstays midfielder Dillon Powers and forward Ryan Finley.

Dwyane Wade, Bulls take first blood with LeBron James, Cavs

Dwyane Wade, Bulls take first blood with LeBron James, Cavs

Dwyane Wade gathered the ball after losing the dribble and bearing down on him was the man who refused to switch off him, LeBron James.

James prepared to block Wade’s layup but a little craftiness beat James’ athleticism on the way to the basket, rolling in for Wade’s 21st and 22nd points with 2:30 left in the fourth.

Wade was the one who made sure to let everyone know this game wasn’t just any old game, and for 37 minutes (season-high) he played like it. Moments later he forced James into a turnover, then another as he sandwiched an offensive rebound and layup between the two possessions.

The layup gave the Bulls an eight-point lead with 2:30 left as the Bulls took first blood in their season series with the NBA champions with a 111-105 win at the United Center Friday — a game that was more anticipated for pregame activities than what was to be expected on the floor.

The Bulls expected to take the Cavaliers’ best shot after two poor performances, and one wouldn’t have been surprised to see a blowout from the champs looking to refocus.

What occurred was an aroused Bulls team, taking advantage of the national stage, a reeling opponent and a frisky leader in Wade, who finished with 24 points, five rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes.

Jimmy Butler shook off a unusual shooting night, partially due to the energy exerted from guarding James most of the night, scoring 26 points with eight boards and six assists.

It was pretty early and grimy late, which is the way playoff basketball is to be played. Speaking of grimy, Taj Gibson was a leader early and throughout, scoring 23 points with 11 rebounds and five assists, making his first nine field goals.

They dominated the Cavs inside, exposing their lack of interior defense as the Cavs have sacrificed rim protection in place of more perimeter shooting, scoring 78 points in the paint and outrebounding them 49-33.

Gibson started off going 5-for-5 in the first quarter, taking it straight to Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson. Even his imperfections were forgiven early, as a missed dunk was wiped out by a foul called on Love when it appeared Love barely blew on him.

At times, Wade guarded James and vice-versa, leading to some competitive theatre and playful banter. It was no less competitive, though, as James’ pinpoint passing and drives to the basket were often a beauty to behold, scoring 27 points with 13 assists and five rebounds in 45 minutes after his walk of shame through the bowels of the United Center wearing Chicago Cubs regalia after losing a World Series bet to Wade.

Rajon Rondo, a man who is no stranger to bouts with James’ teams, put together his most impactful game as a Bull with 15 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds in 36 minutes.

Kyrie Irving scored 20 for the Cavaliers but took 21 shots and Love scored 15 with nine boards but was a liability defensively.

James was frustrated with his teammates, often rolling his eyes or forgetting to get back on defense. But the Bulls failed to shut the door when the Cavs were reeling, and a James layup made it 92-89.

The Bulls didn’t fold, though, with Rondo and Wade making the necessary plays along with Butler doing his best to corral James defensively, leading to a bounceback victory and a message that perhaps they can compete on call.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

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SportsTalk Live Podcast: Bulls welcome Cavaliers to town

In the latest installment of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, the panel previews the Bulls' matchup against the Cavaliers. 

Luke Stuckmeyer is joined by Mark Carman (WGN Radio), David Schuster (670 The Score) and Kendall Gill to break down the keys to a Bulls win. Later, Vincent Goodwill (CSNChicago.com) joins Luke to discuss the team's progress. 

Finally, LeBron James pays off his World Series bet and the entire media world is there to see it. 

Check out the SportsTalk Live Podcast below: