Chicago Fire

New Trier squeaks by Waukegan

615072.png

New Trier squeaks by Waukegan

By Tim Froehlig
YourSeason.com

New Trier hit five free throws in the final 38 seconds of the game to hold off host Waukegan 54-53 on Friday in a battle of Central Suburban League South Division unbeatens.The Trevians are 3-0 in the division and 8-1 overall while Waukegan is 2-1 in the division and 3-5 overall.Connor Boehm, New Triers 6-8 senior center, scored a game-high 27 points, grabbed seven rebounds and hit one of two free throws with 38 seconds left to put the Trevians ahead 50-47.After a Waukegan miss, David Bragiel hit two free throws with 23 seconds left to give the visitors a 52-47 bulge.Waukegans Akeem Springs (team-high 18 points) then hit a three-pointer with 15 seconds left tom make it 52-50.But then, Austin Angel hit two free throws with six seconds left to make it 54-50, and that was enough to survive a three-pointer by Dijon Ross just before the final horn.Angel finished with 10 points, and Steven Cook had 11.New Trier got just two points from its bench in the contest. It finished 11 of 12 from the free-throw line in the game, while Waukegan was 8 of 12.New Trier started the game on fire and led 15-5 after one quarter. But in the second period, the Bulldogs hit 5 of 7 from three-point range to get with 28-26 at halftime. The game seesawed from there, with New Trier taking the lead for good with 1:51 left on a layup by Cook at 49-47.We feel like we have a very versatile team, said Boehm, who carried the workload on offense against a small, fast Waukegan squad. We can adjust accordingly offensively, depending on the type of team we play.New Trier coach Scott Fricke was pleased to get out of the Dog Pound with a victory.It turns out our free-throw shooting down the stretch was huge, Fricke said, because they hit two big threes at the end of the game. Give Waukegan credit. They played really hard tonight.I thought our defense was good, but we gave up 11 offensive rebounds to Waukegan in the first half.As far as leading the division, Fricke knows theres a long way to go.Our senior leadership and our execution are the keys. We have to get the ball where we want to on offense.For Waukegan, Davonte Taylor added 10 points and five rebounds, and Jordan Johnson had 10 points and five assists.Waukegan is now idle until after Christmas when it plays at the Pontiac tourney. New Trier will head to Proviso West after Christmas.

With push for playoff seeding in full force, Fire head to Philadelphia with key absences

9-23_phi-union_matchup_mls_fire_blank.jpg

With push for playoff seeding in full force, Fire head to Philadelphia with key absences

There aren’t many easy games left on the Fire’s schedule, but Saturday’s game in Philadelphia appears to be one of the more winnable games remaining even if it is on the road.

The Union have a respectable 7-4-3 home record, but are out of the playoff race and are winless in six straight. The Fire hope to pick up a second straight road win, keep pace with New York City FC and stay ahead of red-hot Atlanta in the race for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

The game will be televised on CSN+ (channel finder) with coverage beginning at 5:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live.

While on paper the game is winnable, the Fire will once again be significantly shorthanded in midfield. Bastian Schweinsteiger and Juninho are both out with injuries. Schweinsteiger will miss his third straight game while Juninho will be out for two in a row. The Fire beat D.C. United 3-0 with Dax McCarty pairing with Drew Conner in central midfield last weekend.

With Joao Meira returning from injury as a sub in that win against D.C., coach Veljko Paunovic could run a similar lineup to the one from last week or elect to go with three centerbacks in an altered formation. Either way, the Fire remain without key pieces during a time of year when the team wants to be hitting its peak with the playoffs just over a month away.

“You want to get your top 11 group on the field together so they can get games, but if that’s not the case then you can also get guys experience and you can get younger guys in games that mean something and that matter because there’s no substitute for experience,” McCarty said. “You can’t replicate that in training. Guys like Drew Conner, guys like Djordje (Mihailovic). Those guys that are going to be very important for us in our playoff push and our depth heading into the playoffs.

“That’s the reason why depth is so important in MLS because while you would love to be able to count on your first 11 every single time you step on the field, (but) that’s not the case. I think we’ve seen that throughout the whole season. I don’t think we’ve had our first 11 group on the field together for months so you want depth and obviously it’s important to get guys healthy."

The extent of Schweinsteiger’s injuries hasn’t been clear. He had a bruise on his calf from a collision during the match in Montreal on Sept. 2, but also has a thigh injury. Schweinsteiger appeared to be nearing a return last week when he was running and working out in training separate from the group, but he was not at training on Tuesday or Wednesday this week, which implied a setback.

When asked about Schweinsteiger’s status, Paunovic has remained coy.

“Basti is very important for the team,” Paunovic said. “We want him as soon as possible. We will provide all the help that we can. As soon as we can have him back it’s going to be very important for the team. Also during that time we have guys who are prepared and ready and want to step in.”

Everyone knows he is a key absence, but the team has a solid 2-1-3 record without him this year.

“It doesn’t take a genius to see the positive attributes that he brings to the team,” McCarty said of Schweinsteiger. “He’s been one of our best players and obviously he’s a focal point for the way that we do things, not only defensively, but attacking as well. He’s a guy who teams have to account for whenever he’s on the ball. His vision, his ability to make plays within the game, knowing what the game needs and what time, you can’t substitute that. It makes my job easier, it makes our strikers’ jobs easier, so it’s a big loss not having him on the field.”

Chicago Fire at Philadelphia Union

Where: Talen Energy Stadium (Chester, Penn.)

TV: CSN + (channel finder)

When: Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Fire Pregame Live

Records: Fire (14-9-6, 48 points), Union (8-12-9, 33 points)

Nerds in Sports Podcast: Being a 'professional nerd' and Star Wars theories about Rey's parents

nerds_in_sports.jpg

Nerds in Sports Podcast: Being a 'professional nerd' and Star Wars theories about Rey's parents

On this edition of Nerds in Sports, we talk with io9.com senior editor Rob Bricken.

Rob explains how he juggles being a fan with being a ‘professional’ nerd, how he came to run io9.com, plus his theory on why Rey’s parents are in Star Wars may shock you.

Kevin Anderson and Michael Piff co-host. We are Nerds. In sports.

Listen to the Nerds in Sports Podcast here.