Chicago Fire

Dax McCarty: 'We expected three points, but the performance was something to be proud of'

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USA TODAY

Dax McCarty: 'We expected three points, but the performance was something to be proud of'

It was surprising to hear the way the Fire talked about Saturday’s 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls.

Coach Veljko Paunovic praised his team’s performance and said it was “a great point.” Michael de Leeuw echoed the sentiments, saying the team was “happy” with the draw.

So why would the Fire be happy with a draw at home against a team below them in the standings? Allow midfielder Dax McCarty, a former Red Bulls player, to give an explanation.

“Look, we’re not happy with the result that we got against the Red Bulls,” McCarty said. “We expected three points, but the performance was something to be proud of. You can’t sit there and say you want to play pretty soccer and play 500, 600 passes against a team like Red Bull. It’s not going to happen. They’ll eat you alive. The game was ugly. The game was about second balls and I thought our mentality of winning second balls and trying to be physical and trying to run with them was really good and so that’s why the performance was a positive one.”

McCarty has consistently been a voice of reason within the group as well as someone who has always pushed for more out of the team. Early in the season he had said the team “had a long way to go,” and that was after a win. This was another example of him doing a better job of explaining something that raised some eyebrows after Saturday’s game.

After the Fire’s winning run through May and June, followed by an extended negative run in July and August, the team is in third place in the Eastern Conference. The remaining jockeying for playoff positions will be a tight race, but goalkeeper Matt Lampson said the most important thing is peaking in the playoffs.

“Pauno talked about it this morning and I think he nailed it,” Lampson said. “It doesn’t matter what we did in May or what we even did two weeks ago. We need to start peaking now and we need to start peaking in the playoffs, just like Seattle did (last year). They were not good until the playoffs. I think that’s what we need to focus on, is just continue to progress and upward trajectory throughout the end of the year and then into the playoffs hopefully. If you play your best soccer there, you’re going to do well and that’s what we’re going to focus on doing. I think we’re starting to do that. We’ve changed tactics, we’ve got guys coming back from injury and we’re getting results against good teams and in hostile environments so it’s good.”

Podcast: How the playoff race is shaping up for the Fire

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USA TODAY

Podcast: How the playoff race is shaping up for the Fire

The Fire have gone three games without a loss so Shane Murray (MLSsoccer.com) and Dan Santaromita discuss the team's recent performances and if the team is back to its best form.

Next, hear from Dax McCarty as he talked to reporters after training on Tuesday.

Finally, Dan and Shane give the latest on the lengthy Fire injury list and look at the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Fire fans are throwing a killer party for the club's 20th birthday

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Fire fans are throwing a killer party for the club's 20th birthday

Most MLS teams are too young to have substantial history, but Fire fans are doing their part to celebrate the 20 years of Chicago Fire soccer.

A group of supporters is putting the work in to throw a party for the club in the vein of a fan convention — except this one isn’t run by a team. The small group of fans from the Fire’s independent supporters’ association, Section 8, is pooling efforts to throw a killer birthday bash and inviting former players and coaches to return for the celebration.

The Chicago Fire 20th Anniversary will take place on Oct. 8 at the Chicago Cultural Center. That’s 20 years to the day since the club’s first general manager, Peter Wilt, announced the name of the then-MLS expansion team at Navy Pier. Wilt will be among the star-studded list of attendees.

“You’re basically taking a fan convention and cramming it into four hours,” said Scott Greene, the chair of Section 8’s board of directors.

Greene was at the anniversary party five years ago and the plan is to continue them every five years. He said the 15th anniversary was “pretty flawless” in the way it ran and they are hoping to replicate that this time around with a similar type of program.

“It was astounding from the fact of what the Fire means for former players,” Greene said. “I think that always takes you aback at their experience at what the Fire means... Their willingness to come out to Chicago to interact with the fans is remarkable.”

The list of confirmed guests already boasts some of the biggest names in the team’s history and more are expected, although still unconfirmed. Five players from the original 1998 team, which won both the U.S. Open Cup and MLS Cup, are already confirmed to be attending: Lubos Kubik, Diego Gutierrez, Jerzy Podbrozny, Roman Kosecki and current broadcaster Frank Klopas.

“It’s always great, the ability now to reconnect with all the old friends,” Klopas said during the broadcast of the D.C. United match this past Saturday. “I pretty much run into a lot of my old teammates that are still involved in the league here, but the ability to spend some time with Kosecki and Podbrozny, guys that you don’t see that much. It’s fantastic to reconnect with some of our old fans and some of the new fans and talk about some great moments from the past, but also some fantastic moments where the team is now.”

Longtime Fire defender Gonzalo Segares, 2013 MLS MVP Mike Magee and 1994 Ballon d’Or winner Hristo Stoichkov also will be attending.

In order to get the players to come to Chicago, Section 8 has worked to raise funds to fly the players in, which is especially tricky with those coming in from out of the country. Greene said ticket sales are the main revenue portion, but they are also accepting donations and there is a silent auction.

The auction includes a game-worn Michael Bradley national team jersey from a Gold Cup semifinal this year. Bradley is the son of the Fire’s first coach, Bob Bradley, and grew up in Chicagoland while his dad coached the team. There is also the press of the Bastian Schweinsteiger poster that ran in the Chicago Tribune.


“It’s a ton of coordination, but from a fan’s point of view it’s pretty awesome to email people,” Greene said. “I sponsored Andy Herron and it’s really cool to interact with him. I’m interacting with my sporting heroes. That’s really cool from being a volunteer and organizing this, the logistics of who’s coming.”

The club has helped provide videos and photos as part of the program and the beer list would make some brew fests envious. Chicagoland breweries Half Acre, BuckleDown (which has a Section 8 Pale Ale), Two Brothers (which will have a 20 Twenty-Plus Pilsner Lager which is named for the founding year of the brewery, which matches the Fire’s founding year) and Goose Island will have beers at the party. Goose Island is making a black lager made exclusively for the party.

Tickets and more information are available through the Fire 20th Anniversary website.