Sports Ajenda: Fire forward Carr feeling good

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Sports Ajenda: Fire forward Carr feeling good

Friday, Aug. 20, 2010
4:48 PM

By Jen Patterson
CSNChcago.com

Chicago Fire Forward Calen Carr made his return to the lineup on Wednesday in a 2-1 victory over the New England Revolution. Carr suffered from a strained quadriceps injury during the preseason but made an impact on the field when he came off the bench in the 86th minute to score the game winning goal.

It was great, its been a long road getting healthy and a lot of hard work," said Carr. "To come back out there and help the team and make an immediate impact was great.

Newly acquired designated player Freddie Ljungberg played a role in Carrs performance on the field. Ljungberg provided the assist on the goal, with a pass on the left wing. It was the first assist for the speedy midfielder in the Chicago Fire uniform since being acquired from the Seattle Sounders.

Freddie has been working with me through the week, just talking to me and giving me some ideas for runs and how to move off of him, said the 27-year-old forward. Carr went on to say that Ljungberg draws a lot of attention on the field and it gave him an opportunity to get open and find the back of the net.

The Men in Red now hold fourth place in the standings with 24 points in 17 games. With the addition of designated players Ljungberg and Nery Castillo, plus their three game undefeated streak, the Fire look to build on the momentum and get a win in Houston.

Its a quick turnaround with the travel but we are ready for it, and weve been training well," Carr said. "We will be prepared and hopefully we will come back with three points."

There is not much rest for the weary. Wednesday night they had a triumph on the field and now they need to go out and again run 90 minutes in Houston.

Its tougher for some then others," said veteran defender CJ Brown. "The good thing is you dont worry about injuries you have. You just focus on the next game and go from there. Hopefully we have the legs, its going to be hot in Houston.

Houston has proved to be a tough opponent for the Fire. It had a five game win streak until Chicago defeated Houston for the first time in franchise history in a 2-0 win April 24 at Toyota Park.

You can see the Fire take on the Dynamo on Comcast SportsNet on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

Tonight on CSN+: Fire get a second chance in New England

Tonight on CSN+: Fire get a second chance in New England

The Chicago Fire have won four straight at Toyota Park and have built an eight-match unbeaten streak at home, including three in the U.S. Open Cup.

However, playing on the road has been the opposite. The Fire (4-9-5, 17 points) still don’t have a win on the road this season and haven’t even earned a point on the road since April, a seven-game losing streak.

Saturday’s match is at New England (5-7-8, 23 points). The match will be televised on CSN+ with coverage beginning at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

“I’m not thinking about the streak that we have on the road,” Fire forward Michael de Leeuw said. “It’s another opportunity to play and to win and we need the points because we’re six points behind. I think New England has got six points more than us, two games (played) more, so it’s an important game for us.”

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New England currently sits in the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The Revolution already beat the Fire at Gillette Stadium this season, 2-0 on May 14. On that day, Lee Nguyen scored following a corner kick and then Femi Hollinger-Janzen provided a late insurance goal.

Hollinger-Janzen is among a fairly lengthy injury list for the Revs. Fellow forwards Charlie Davies and Juan Agudelo will also be out.

“It was a tough, tough loss for us,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said of the previous game in New England. “Nobody likes that. I just remember and when I have the opportunity to play again I just want to win. I want to prepare our team to win on Saturday and we will manage that.”

That game also marked Khaly Thiam's debut for the Fire. He started and played 64 minutes in midfield. Meanwhile, that was Kei Kamara's first appearance for the Revolution after being traded from Columbus. Kamara didn't score in his first five games for the Revolution, but has since scored three goals in the past four matches.

On the Fire’s injury list are Razvan Cocis, who picked up a calf injury in the Open Cup game on Wednesday, and Joey Calistri, who is still recovering from an ankle sprain. Both are officially listed as questionable, but it would be a surprise if either play.

Chicago Fire at New England Revolution

When: 6:30 p.m. (coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live)

TV: CSN+

Where: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.

Michael de Leeuw gives Fire ‘another dimension’

Michael de Leeuw gives Fire ‘another dimension’

Michael de Leeuw hasn’t taken long to show he was worth the attention paid to him when the Chicago Fire acquired him this season.

The 29-year-old Dutch forward scored his second goal in four appearances with the Fire in the team’s 3-0 win against the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers on Wednesday.

The goal was almost entirely made by David Accam. The Ghanaian winger dribbled from midfield and rounded the goalkeeper before making a centering pass to de Leeuw to tap into an open net.


Other than Accam’s highlight-worthy moves on the ball, what stands out about the goal is what de Leeuw did off the ball. He read the play correctly and put himself in position for that easy finish.

“He’s a different type of player,” Accam said. “He’s like a box striker, a typical striker and that’s what we lacked all season and he’s contributing a lot to this team.”

In de Leeuw’s four games with the Fire, three of which have been starts, he has registered only two shots on target. Both of those have been close-range goals.

“I don’t think he has scored a difficult goal this season, but for me that’s a good striker,” Accam said. “He was in a good place. Most people will not be there.”

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It appears from his first few appearances with the Fire that de Leeuw is not a striker who is going to create his own shot by beating a defender or two. That’s what Accam did on that play and what Kennedy Igboananike has done on most of his four goals this season.

The key for the Fire is getting de Leeuw and Accam on the same page so they can complement each other like they did on Wednesday. For now, de Leeuw is learning what he has to do when Accam has the ball.

“Keep up, keep up with him,” de Leeuw said. “You know he’s fast. You know when he’s got the ball he goes for it. He’s like Usain Bolt. But you know you have to be prepared for the rebound. That’s what I’m doing. He made a shot and just be there for the rebound.”

Before de Leeuw’s arrival, the Fire clearly were a team looking to play on the counter to utilize the speed of Accam and Igboananike. That came at the detriment of the Fire’s ability to keep possession of the ball.

What de Leeuw gives the team is another way to attack. His hold up play means the Fire can retain the ball more easily and build up more deliberately as opposed to frequently having midfielders look for a sprinting Accam whenever they get a bit of time on the ball.

“I think it’s an outlet,” midfielder Matt Polster said. “We don’t always have to look in behind for David and try to counter. I think we have now have another dimension to our game. We can look in behind and break or we can try to combine with Michael so I think it just gives us another little bit of something for the other team to be worried about.”

Fire to head on the road for U.S. Open Cup semifinal, but can host final

Fire to head on the road for U.S. Open Cup semifinal, but can host final

The Chicago Fire can host the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final, but will have to win on the road in order to do so.

U.S. Soccer held the draw to determine the hosts of the Open Cup's semifinals Thursday morning at Soccer House in Chicago. After beating the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers 3-0 in a quarterfinal last night, the Fire learned they will be heading on the road for the first time in this year's tournament for the semifinal.

The Fire will travel to take on the New England Revolution on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 7 p.m.

The LA Galaxy will host FC Dallas in the other semifinal.

The other part of Thursday's draw was to determine the hosting priority for the final. The Fire were given the top spot in that, meaning if the Fire beat the Revolution, they will host the final in September at a date still to be determined. If the Fire lose, the winner of the Galaxy-Dallas semifinal will host the final.

This is the same result in the draw as last year, when the Fire traveled to Philadelphia for a semifinal with the chance to host the final with a victory. The Fire lost 1-0.

[SHOP: Get a hold of your own Fire home kit here]

The Fire are four-time winners of the U.S. Open Cup. The last time they made the final was 2011, a 2-0 loss at Seattle. The last time the Fire hosted the final was in 2006, which is also the last time the Fire won the tournament.