Fire travel to Houston Tuesday


Fire travel to Houston Tuesday

The Fire thought it had cleared up Sebastian Grazzinis playing status last week, but maybe not.
Grazzini missed three days of practice last week, then was left off the travel roster for Fridays 1-0 win at Sporting Kansas City. Coach Frank Klopas said the lack of practice time kept Grazzini from playing against SKC.
Though Grazzini trained with the team in Bridgeview on Monday, he also didnt make the trip to Houston, where the Fire (8-5-3) visit the Dynamo (6-5-5) on Tuesday night. A club spokesman said Grazzini is staying home to tend to "personal matters in Chicago.
The club also has made it known that, contrary to the Major League Soccer Players Union website, Grazzini is not among the Fires lowest-paid players. The accuracy of the Players Union salary figures was discredited as they pertained to non-U.S. players.
Even without the Argentine midfielder, the Fire has been cruising. Klopas club will seek its fourth straight win against the Dynamo and also bid to be the first MLS team to win at the new BBVA Compass Stadium, the Houstons team home since May 12. The Dynamo is 4-0-2 there, and the Fire will get its first look at the facility on Tuesday.
Not since the 2005 season has the Fire won four straight. That year the Fire built a winning streak of the same size in late June and early July.
Tuesdays meeting comes in the middle game of a three-games-in-10-days stretch. The busy period concludes when the defending MLS Cup champion Los Angeles Galaxy, struggling with a 6-9-2 mark now, visit Toyota Park on Sunday. Los Angeles visit ends a streak of six straight Fire matches against Eastern Conference rivals.
In addition to Grazzini, the Fire will be without midfielder Rafael Robayo (shoulder injury) at Houston and striker Federico Puppo and goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi wont be available for the second straight game because of ankle injuries. Puppo, though, went through training on Monday.
Veteran defender Arne Friedrich, who left the Sporting Kansas City match with cramps after 72 minutes, and striker Chris Rolfe, who finished that one hobbling on a sore ankle, were deemed available to face the Dynamo and defender Gonzalo Segares returns after sitting out a one-game red card suspension.
In addition to visiting a new stadium the Fire will be challenged by a new star. Honduran international Boniek Garcia, Houstons newly-signed Designated Player, made his debut with the Dynamo in Sundays 2-1 home win against the Philadelphia Union. He looked good in that match, and Houston was rolling even before he arrived. The Dynamo was 4-0-1 in MLS play in June.

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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