Fire preps for Combine, SuperDraft

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Fire preps for Combine, SuperDraft

This is the first big week of 2013 for the Fire. The club will announce its full regular season schedule on Wednesday, and coach Frank Klopas and his staff will begin scouting over 50 collegiate stars at the Major League Soccer Combine, which begins a four-day run on Friday at Central Broward Regional Park in Lauderhill, Fla.
The Combine leads into the Jan. 17 MLS SuperDraft in Indianapolis, and that figures to bring the Fire a player who can help immediately. At least the last two SuperDrafts did. The Fires first picks in 2011 and 2012 were defenders Jalil Anibaba and Austin Berry. Neither needed much time to establish themselves as starters, and Berry the ninth overall pick of 2012 out of the University of Louisville wound up the MLS Rookie-of-the-Year.
MLS has already signed five players who will participate in the Combine, and two are Notre Dame products forward Ryan Finley and midfielder Dillon Powers. The other three poised to take roster spots on MLS clubs are Connecticut midfielder Carlos Alvarez, Boston College midfielder Kyle Becker and Maryland midfielder John Stertzer.
A day after the SuperDraft, Fire players gather at Toyota Park for two days of medical exams. Then theyre off to Florida for a 10-day camp at Ave Maria University near Naples. During that stretch the Fire will play two matches Jan. 27 vs. Florida Gulf Coasts college team at Ave Maria and Jan. 30 vs. the Columbus Crew at IMG Academy in Bradenton.
Once again the Fire wont have starting goalkeeper Sean Johnson for the first phase of preseason training. He was called up to the U.S. national team for a Jan. 7-27 camp that culminates with a Jan. 29 international friendly against Canada in Houston.
Johnson, a frequent callup by U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, has earned his two national team caps in January matches. His first came Jan. 22, 2011, vs. Chile in Los Angeles and his second was Jan. 25, 2012, vs. Panama in Panama City.
The offseason has again been a busy one for Johnson. He spent last month training with England clubs. He was with Stoke City from Dec. 5-9 and Everton from Dec. 10-23.
Johnsons time with the Fire could also be limited in February, assuming hes called up for training for the first U.S. match in the next stage of World Cup qualifying at Honduras on Feb. 6.
After its Florida session the Fire returns home for a few days, then heads to Ventura, Calif., for the second phase of training. The third and final one is the four-team Carolina Cup competition in Charleston, S.C. It leads into the March 3 regular season opener, a road match against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

Wake-up Call: Cubs breathe sigh of relief; Chapman cuts it close against White Sox

Wake-up Call: Cubs breathe sigh of relief; Chapman cuts it close against White Sox

Here are some of Monday's top stories in Chicago sports:

Cubs show why they are defending champs while Nationals still have something to prove

How Ozzie Guillen's harsh honesty resonated with Avisail Garcia

Panarin’s rep: 'He’ll forever cherish his time in Chicago'

Ways to watch, stream Bulls introductory press conference for Kris Dunn, Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen

Last-place White Sox ready to trade, but only if the right offer arises

Kyle Schwarber has rocky start to Triple-A stint

How to watch, stream White Sox vs. Yankees

Jordan Howard wants to lead Bears... and lead the league

If Nationals are playoff preview, what should Cubs do at trade deadline?

Burger Bash: White Sox first-round pick puts on show in BP

Riding the Metra with five-time major champion Phil Mickelson

Riding the Metra with five-time major champion Phil Mickelson

Five time major champion, Phil Mickelson, was in Chicago on Monday to promote the KPMG Women's PGA championship.

Mickelson took a 45-minute CTA train ride from Millennium Station to Olympia Fields CC, demonstrating how hassle free it is to get to the event.

While on the train, CSN's Pat Boyle interviewed Mickelson. They discussed Phil skipping the US Open, Tiger's dash cam video and how difficult the decision was for Mickelson to part with his longtime caddy, Jim "Bones" Mackay.

Lefty also talked about the revolving door of first time winners at the last 7 majors and what is left on his golf "to do" list.