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.

Honda Road Ahead: Blackhawks look to get back on track to close regular season

Honda Road Ahead: Blackhawks look to get back on track to close regular season

Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd break down the Blackhawks' upcoming schedule in the latest edition of the Blackhawks Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda dealers.

There are less than two weeks left in the NHL regular season and teams are jockeying for playoff seeding.

The Blackhawks have the best record in the Western Conference with 103 points. The Blackhawks' next two opponents, the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Columbus Blue Jackets, also have 103 points. Washington leads the league with 106 points.

Wednesday the Hawks will travel to Pittsburgh. Two days later they host the Blue Jackets.

After that, the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins on Sunday. Boston is in line for one of the final playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.

"There's no easy games from here on out." Konroyd said in the video. "Even teams on the outside, looking in are playing for contracts next year."

Watch the video above to see Boyle and Konroyd discuss the upcoming matchups for the Blackhawks.

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks lose to Lightning in OT

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks lose to Lightning in OT

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

Blackhawks blow three-goal lead, fall in OT at Lightning

How Cubs came to fully believe in the legend of Kyle Schwarber

White Sox agree to trade outfielder Peter Bourjos

Bulls Talk Podcast: March is Nikola Mirotic's month

Raiders-to-Vegas the latest in long line of NFL relocation drama, some of which included the Bears

Why Cubs fandom was inescapable in covering the greatest story in sports

Derek Holland ends spring on strong note as White Sox down Dodgers

Ex-Bear Brandon Marshall an early favorite at NFL owners meetings

Increased velocity has improved Anthony Swarzak's chances of making White Sox bullpen

Cubs will have Ian Happ one phone call away at Triple-A Iowa