Fire travel to San Jose on Saturday

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Fire travel to San Jose on Saturday

The Fire has made three significant announcements since its 1-0 loss to Englands Aston Villa in Saturday nights international friendly at Toyota Park. None figure to have an effect on the next match, a road battle with the high-flying San Jose Earthquakes on Saturday.
Most noteworthy of the latest developments is the club's scheduling of a second such international match, which may well be a more popular attraction than the first. The Fire announced Wednesday that four-time Mexican first division champion Club Santos Laguna will come to Bridgeview on Sept. 8.
While Aston Villa was on the rebound from an off-season in the English Premier League, Santos Laguna is riding high in Mexico. The club beat Monterrey 3-2 on aggregate to take its league tournament and also placed second in the 2011-12 CONCACAF Champions League.
Santos Laguna's roster features Oswaldo Sanchez, the veteran goalkeeper for Mexico's national team, and striker Hercules Gomez, who has done time with the U.S. nationals. Gomez also played for the Los Angeles Galaxy, Colorado Rapids and Kansas City Wizards (now Sporting Kansas City) in Major League Soccer.
Last season the Fire's second friendly was against the immensely popular Guadalajara Chivas, the Mexican side winning 1-0 in a spirited match.
On the pitch the Fire welcomed Dutch forward Sherjill MacDonald. A 10-year veteran with teams in Belgium, the Netherlands and England, MacDonald has long been reported heading to the Fire. His last club was Beerschot AC of Belgium, where he had 15 goals in 82 matches. During his long career in Europe the 27-year old MacDonald scored 47 goals in 217 matches.
"We have followed Sherjill's career over the course of the last year, and he adds to our attacking options," said Javier Leon, president of soccer operations for the Fire. "He's a professional on the field and in the locker room."
MacDonald will occupy a Designated Player spot with the Fire. The last to hold that slot was Uruguayan forward Federico Puppo. He was loaned to Defensor Sporting Club of the Uruguayan league to set the stage for MacDonalds arrival.
Designated Player spots are usually reserved for high-profiles players. The Fire's previous DPs were Cuauhtemoc Blanco, who made a big contribution for parts of three seasons, and Nery Castillo and Freddy Ljungberg, who did not.
Puppo didn't, either. He played in 12 matches across MLS and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup competitions, starting only two. He had a goal and an assist and was more recently hampered by an ankle injury. It's doubtful MacDonald will make an immediate impact, either. He needs time to improve his fitness before hell likely play in an MLS match.
The Fire hasn't given up on the 25-year old Puppo, who joined the club on Jan. 11 after playing for another Uruguayan side, Danubio FC.
"This loan is an opportunity to provide Federico with more consistent playing time," said Fire coach Frank Klopas. "We look forward to keeping a close eye on his progress while he's playing in Montevideo."
The Fire (9-7-4) played its last MLS match on July 18, a 1-0 road loss to the New York Red Bulls, and will resume league play against powerhouse San Jose (13-5-4). The Fire will be without a key player. Midfielder Marco Pappa will serve a one-game suspension for yellow card point accumulations.

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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