Vitters debuts, Cubs playing spoiler

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Vitters debuts, Cubs playing spoiler

Spoiler alert: The Cubs arent going to make this playoffs this year.

OK, theres no surprise or secret to that statement, but the Cubs hope to play spoilers as they play out the final 52 games of their season.

Thursdays 5-3 come-from-behind win against NL Central-leading Cincinnati was a nice start after eight straight losses. Ruining other teams October plans is the only thing the Cubs can accomplish this season other than develop their young players. And it might even help with the latter. Playing spoiler is fun.

"To knock people out of the playoffs when you're not in the pennant race, those are the things you play for as a player, Cubs manager Dale Sveum said Friday.

Its another day, another debut for the Cubs on Friday against the Reds. Third baseman Josh Vitters makes his Wrigley Field debut and bats sixth, behind Alfonso Soriano and in front of center fielder Brett Jackson, who debuted last weekend in Los Angeles.

Vitters is just 1 for 10 with a double in four games, but thats about average for a first few days in the big leagues.

"When you've got young guys on the team, you're going to go through some tough times, Sveum said. But they have to play. There's only a select few people that step into the big leagues that just dominate or even do well.

First baseman Anthony Rizzo, with his nine home runs and 24 RBI in just 27 games, might seem to be one of those guys, but Rizzo had a horrid first few months after being called up by San Diego last year.

All the Cubs young players are playing to prove themselves day in and day out. And though thats big-time pressure, the fun of playing spoiler might take off some of the edge.

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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