Garfien: Irish return home to heroes welcome

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Garfien: Irish return home to heroes welcome

In the wee hours of Sunday morning, at a quiet airport outside of campus, the football team that has made the loudest noise in college football arrived back home.At 5:41 a.m. ET, 4:41 in Chicago, Notre Dame was back in South Bend after proving that this, in fact, might be their time. Its 22-13 victory over archrival Southern Cal clinched a spot in the BCS Championship. If any doubters still remain about the 12-0 Irish, they are like the darkness in this early November morning. Notre Dame has refused to acknowledge or even recognize the cynics and non-believers since it began the season unranked.But who could have believed this?With most of the town fast asleep--or still up celebrating the monumental victory--a police escort drove the team buses through South Bend. There was the occasional honk, but for the most part South Bends version of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, U2 and Bruce Springsteen combined rode through town completely unnoticed.That was until they arrived on campus at the Guglielmino Athletics Complex, where roughly 75 rabid Notre Dame fans braved the frigid cold to welcome their heroes back to town.Ive been a Notre Dame fan all my life, said Ed Wogoman, decked out in a Notre Dame winter coat and hat. Ive been waiting for them to get back to this point for a long time.Bridget Mooney didnt have to wait long. Shes a freshman. Talk about the luck of the Irish.My brother is very jealous. Hes from the class of 2010, said a smiling Mooney.But she stayed up all night to greet the players who made this inconceivable dream become a reality.The first guy I saw was Manti Teo walking up, the leader of our team, Mooney said. The best moment ever.Dave and Amy Sayers, a married couple who usher at home games, drove an hour from Sturgis, Michigan to be there for this special occasion.
They were still very much soaking in the victory.They were great tonight, said Dave.Actually, the game was last night.Well, we havent gone to bed yet, so its still tonight for us.Up next for the Irish is the BCS Championship on Jan. 7 in Miami against an opponent to be determined. In the meantime, a lone digit stands illuminated above Grace Hall on the campus of Notre Dame.It states quite simply: No. 1.

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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