Fire and Red Stars focus

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Arturo Alvarez, shown in a game earlier this year, scored the Fire’s lone goal Saturday night against Dallas.



WHEN: 6:30 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Gillette Stadium, Foxborough, Mass.



LAST TIME: New England beat the Fire, 2-0 on May 14 in Foxborough. Lee Nguyen and Femi Hollinger-Janzen scored goals for the Revolution.

 Fire’s road winless streak hits 34

It was just their luck.

The Chicago Fire was hoping to break its 33-match winless streak on the road Saturday with a tall task of facing Dallas, one of the top teams in Major League Soccer.

The task got taller when Dallas laid an egg in Seattle with a 5-0 loss on July 13. Dallas was in no mood for another setback – especially to a struggling Fire squad and beat the Fire, 3-1, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas.

The Fire trailed 2-0 heading into extra time in the game and Arturo Alvarez scored an unassisted goal in the 91st minute and a minute later, Dallas’s Mauro Rosales returned the favor. The Fire, 4-9-5, is in the midst of a five-match-in-15-day span and usual starters David Accam, Jonathan Campbell and Sean Johnson did not play.

 Fire wins on disputed goal

The Fire beat Sporting Kansas City, 1-0, July 13 at Toyota Park in a game delayed by storms and while the Chicago team felt good about the victory, KC coach Peter Vermes was stormy about new Fire player Michael de Leeuw’s goal in the 19th minute. The visiting coach thought the goal should be disallowed.

"It's a terrible mistake," Vermes said after the game.

His dispute stemmed from a pair of blown whistles and Fire rookie Brandon Vincent had a free kick which set up the goal.

"So the referee blows the whistle, and blows the whistle again and our guys stop,’’ Vermes said. “They hesitate because he blows the second whistle and what he’s trying to do, he’s trying to get guys to move back,” Vermes said. “But when you do that then you have to restart the play and unfortunately the hesitation happens from guys on our team.

“Look, if you play this game long enough, you know how it works. If you blow the whistle, the play starts. If you blow the whistle a second time, that means the play stops. You don’t communicate by blowing the whistle three times to guys. They don’t know what that means. You blow the whistle once to restart the play. A second whistle right after the first, it means, 'Hold on a second. Something’s going to happen. The referee wants to do something.' "

Earlier in the match, a KC goal was disallowed by a close offsides call.

Rookie Vincent named to All-Star game

Fire rookie defender Brandon Vincent has been selected for the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Gameday Roster by MLS All-Star head coach Dominic Kinnear. The MLS All-Stars will take on English side Arsenal FC at Avaya Stadium in San Jose, Calif. at 6:30 p.m. next Thursday on ESPN and UniMas. 

"It's an unbelievable honor," said Vincent. "I'm really excited to have been selected but I think the biggest thing is to give credit to the guys, my teammates, the club as a whole, the fans who have been with us through the ups and downs, it's a huge testament to them. There are a lot of guys who deserve to be recognized and I'm just very happy, lucky and thankful to be the one representing this club and I look forward to it." 

"When we selected Brandon, we knew that he was an emerging talent," said Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez. "We are pleased that his hard work, attitude and outstanding character have been recognized with this great honor." 

The Valencia, Calif. native earned his first senior international cap for the United States when he entered in the second half of a 1-0 win over Canada on Feb. 5.

Calistri makes it to Homegrown Game

Homegrown rookie Joey Calistri was selected by MLS Homegrown head coach Landon Donovan to the 20-man roster for the 2016 Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game. The young MLS team will take on the Mexican Under-20 National Team in the third annual Chipotle MLS Homegrown Game at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Avaya Stadium. 

Signed to a Homegrown contract on Dec. 17, 2015 after a standout collegiate career at Northwestern University, Calistri made his professional debut when he entered in the 81st minute of the Fire's season opener against New York City FC on March 6. In 10 league appearances, including two starts, Calistri has tallied one goal and one assist, scoring his first professional goal against the Colorado Rapids on June 18. 



WHEN: 7 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview



LAST TIME: The two teams opened the 2016 season in Houston and the Dash topped the Red Stars 3-1 on April 26.

Finally a goal and finally a win


Taylor Comeau celebrated her birthday a little early and gave her Chicago Red Stars teammates quite a present Saturday night.

Comeau, who turns 23 today, Thursday, scored her first professional goal in the 23rd minute and it stood up a 1-0 victory over Orlando at Camping World Stadium.

The win snapped a three-game losing streak and the score snapped a 320-minute streak without a goal. It was one of eight shots on target for Chicago Vanessa DiBernardo was credited with the assists and goalie Michele Dalton earned her first shutout of the season for the 6-4-3 Red Stars.

Late in the game, lighting was seen and the match was delayed more than an hour. Orlando fell to 6-7-0 and was not able to leapfrog over the Red Stars for fourth place in the National Women’s Soccer League Standings.

 It’s official – three Red Stars named to Olympic squad

U.S. Women’s National Team coach Jill Ellis named the 18-player roster for August’s Summer Olympic Games last week and, as expected, Red Stars players Christen Press, Julie Johnston and Alyssa Naeher made the team.

The U.S. will open Group G play on Aug. 3 - two days before the Olympic Opening Ceremony - against New Zealand at Mineirão Stadium in Belo Horizonte. The USA will stay in Belo Horizonte - which is 270 miles north of Rio de Janeiro - to face France at Mineirão Stadium on Aug. 6 and finish group play against Colombia on Aug. 9 at the Amazônia Stadium in Manaus, the same arena in which the U.S. Men’s National Team tied Portugal 2-2 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup, and the furthest soccer venue from Rio (more than 1,700 miles).

The U.S. Olympic Women’s Soccer Team has advanced to the gold medal game of every Olympic women’s soccer tournament that has been contested. The USA won the inaugural gold medal in 1996 in Athens, Ga., won silver in 2000 in Sydney, Australia, and will be going for its fourth straight gold medal after standing atop the podium in Athens, Greece in 2004, in Beijing in 2008 and in London in 2012.

Naeher joins Hope Solo as the team’s two goalies. Johnston joins Whitney Engen, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Kelly O’Hara and Becky Sauerbrunn as defenders. Press joins Crstal Dunn, Lexi Morgan and Mallory Pugh at the forward spots. The team is rounded out by midfielders Morgan Brian, Tobin Heathk, Lindsey Horan, Carli Lloyd, Allie Long and Megan Rapinoe.
“The last few camps capped a nine-month evaluation process and the players certainly made it a real challenge to narrow the roster down to 18,” Ellis said. “We’ve got a great blend of players with experience at the Olympic Games and in major events along with the youthful energy of some players who did not play in the Women’s World Cup last summer. As a coach in the Olympic Games, you want to put together a group capable of reaching the top of the podium while also being mindful of getting players prepared for the next World Cup, and I think we’ve done that.”

 Not a flakey honor

Johnston is one of five Olympians that Kellogg’s is putting on the front of its cereal boxes this summer.

She is featured on Corn Flakes and Special K.



Fire-Red Stars-US Olympic soccer report

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



 Photo by Melissa Tamez

Christen Press has possession during the USA’s 1-0 victory over South Africa on Saturday. Press is one of three Chicago Red Stars players on the squad.


WHEN: 8 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Toyota Stadium, Frisco, Texas

FIRE RECORD: 3-8-5 (as of Sunday)


LAST TIME: The Fire won a 2-0 match Aug. 2 in Bridgeview as David Accam scored in the fourth minute and Shaun Maloney added a goal in the 85th minute on a penalty kick.


WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday

WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview

WHY: It’s the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

TOUGH IN ILLINOIS: The Fire is 27-1-2 in U.S. Open Cup games played in this state.

Road woes continue in de Leeuw’s debut


The Fire is about to endure an unhappy anniversary after it dropped a 1-0 road loss to Toronto on Saturday night.

Even if it wins its next road game Saturday, it will be more two years and 33 matches without a Fire victory on the road – a Major League Soccer record.  The last time the Fire won away from home was a 1-0 victory over New England July 12, 2014.

The Fire (3-8-5) hoped that the addition of Dutch player Michael de Leeuw would pump up the offense but his debut was tame. He didn’t start the game and made his debut in the second half but was only able get off one shot in his 45 minutes of work.

“I came here for three points and a win and we didn’t do that,” he said.

When they signed de Leeuw in May, Fire officials warned fans that it might take him awhile to get acclimated to the new league.

"I think Michael came fresh into the game, [and] he adjusted very well to the pace and demands for this league,’’ Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said. “I think he's building the trust now with [his] teammates, and [creating] connections. We could see he was very dynamic in the box, very dangerous. We expect him to improve our overall performance in the attack and score goals. There is no pressure on him, of course, and he knows what is expected of him."

The Fire had 11 shot but just two on target.

Toronto’s Justin Morrow scored in the ninth minute for the lone goal of the game.

Lot of games in a little time

The Toronto game opened a five-match-in-a-15-day span that will test the depth of the team.

The Fire was scheduled to host Kansas City on Wednesday night, visit the MSL’s top team Dallas on Saturday, host Ft. Lauderdale in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open quarterfinals next Wednesday and visit New England July 23.



WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Camping World Stadium, Orlando



LAST TIME: The Red Stars beat the Pride, 1-0, May 1 at Toyota Park as Christen Press scored the lone goal in the 65th minute.


Red Stars lose, you guessed it, 2-0


This is getting monotonous for coach Rory Dames and the Chicago Red Stars.

For the third straight game, they Red Stars took on an upper-division National Women’s Soccer League squad on the road. And for the third straight game, they came home with a 2-0 decision, this time to the Washington Spirit Saturday night at the SoccerPlex in Germantown, Maryland.

Before this skid, the Red Stars were on top of the 10-team league. Now they have plummeted to fourth place and are eight points behind league-leading Portland, which beat the Red Stars on June 22 to open Chicago’s streak.

Estefania Banini scored in the first half for the Spirit (7-2-2) and moments after subbing in the second half in the 74th minute, Katie Stengel score the second goal.

Chicago had 11 shots including seven on target, but could not score. The Red Stars have gone 298 minutes without a score since Casey Short’s goal in a 3-0 victoroy over Boston on June 18.

 USA blanks South Africa

While the Red Stars were near the nation’s capital, three members of the squad – Christen Press, Julie Johnston and Alyssa Naeher – were in Chicago as the United States Olympic team beat South Africa, 1-0, in a friendly match in front of an announced crowd of 19,272 fans at Soldier Field.

Crystal Dunn scored in the 35th minute with an assist from 18-year-old Mallory Pugh. Press and Johnston played the full match. Naeher didn’t get into the game as first-string goalie Hope Solo notched her 100th career shutout for the USA.

Naeher is battling Ashlyn Harris for a roster spot as coach Jill Ellis will have just two goalies on the roster. 

“These are three of the best keepers in the world and I have confidence in each of them,” Ellis said. “The competition is incredibly competitive. Unfortunately one will have to come to Rio as an alternate.”

The USA team will take on Costa Rica in Kansas City, Kansas on July 22 in its final tuneup before taking on New Zealand on Aug. 3, France on Aug. 6 and Colombia on Aug. 9.

 Plenty of Hope

The crowd gave Solo a huge ovation when she was announced before the game and received plenty of love after the game in which she notched her 100th career shutout against her 29th different country  in 16 years and was named the Budweiser Woman of the Match.

“I’ve shed a lot of blood, sweat and tears to be on this team,” Solo said. “I’ve had some incredible defenders I’ve played with over the years. It’s an honor to play with this team.’’


Fire/Red Stars report including the Fire's new Lion King offense

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

Page 2 de Leeuw sign

Photo by Jeff Vorva

Michael de Leeuw will make his Toyota Park debut on Wednesday against Kansas City.



WHEN: 6:30 p.m., Saturday.

WHERE: BMO Field, Toronto



LAST TIME --- Toronto beat the fire, 3-2, Sept. 26 in Toronto. Recently released Gilberto had the two goals for the Fire.


WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Wednesday

WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview

FIRE RECORD: 3-7-5 (as of Sunday)

KC RECORD: 7-8-4 (as of Sunday)

LAST TIME: KC won 1-0 at home May 3, 2015. Paulo Nagamura scored the lone goal in the 75th minute.


Fire star David Accam is sometimes known as King David.

The surname in Dutch of Michael de Leeuw means lion.

de Leeuw is scheduled to make his Fire debut in Toronto Saturday and will join Accam in what could be called the Lion King offense as they hope to snap a 33-game winless streak on the road.

Accam missed seven out of 15 games with this season with a knee injury but has four goals and two assists in the eight Major League Soccer games he has played in plus four more in two Lamar Hunt Cup contests.

de Leeuw, 29, has 94 goals in 211 games in his senior career and is expected to pump up and offense that is struggling even after Friday night’s 1-0 victory over San Jose Friday night at Toyota Park. The Fire (3-7-5) has 15 goals in 15 MLS matches.

“What excites us the most is that we think we’ve added another important piece to the championship program that we’re trying to build,’’ Fire General Manager Nelson Rodriguez said of de Leeuw. “I want to be clear that while we have high hopes and expectations for Michael and his play, he’s not a savior. He is an important piece in what we are trying to build through a deliberate and thoughtful process. One can easily look at his goal-scoring record as an indicator of his abilities. But as we have spoken in the past, we first look at the man and then the player. We are thrilled to add Michael’s winning character to our locker room.

“He wanted this challenge and that was very important to us. He selected us as much as we selected him. We believe he is a champion.’’

The deal was months in the making and when it was finalized in May but he was not allowed to participate in MLS action until after July 4 because of secondary transfer rules so coach Veljko Paunovic put de Leeuw on a five-week program to work on fitness. 

“I’m very happy to be here, finally,” de Leeuw said. “It’s good to be in a new environment. If helps you stay hungry. It’s a good way to develop by playing in another country.

“I’m a player who is going to make my goals,” he added. “I don’t want to say any numbers because I don’t want to put pressure on myself but I know I’m going to make goals and I would rather they come sooner than later.’’

“Soon and often is what we would like,” Paunovic said.

Rodriguez is preaching patience to Fire fans.

“Acclimation to Major League Soccer is difficult,” Rodriguez said. “This is not an easy league. There are no easy games. This is the most competitive and balanced league in the world – top to bottom. But I’m sure that in time, fans will love Michael’s personality on and off the field.’’

 Goose is loose

John Goosens scored his first Fire goal in the San Jose victory.

Sean Johnson recorded his second shutout of the season since playing in the last six matches after replacing Matt Lampson.



WHEN: 6 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Maureen Hendricks Field, Boyds, Maryland



LAST TIME: Washington beat the Fire 2-1 in Lisle on Aug. 16. Crystal Dunn scored in added time for the win.


Red Stars on a rare losing skid


The Chicago Red Stars are in an unfamiliar place.

They have a losing streak.

After Friday’s 2-0 road loss to Western New York, the team has lost two straight as they also dropped a 2-0 decision to National Women’s Soccer League lading Portland on June 22. That came on the heels of an eight-match unbeaten string.

Midfielder Vanessa DiBernardino said before the match the Red Stars were not “going to change our style too much because of who we are playing. That said, the stats learly show we’re up against a dangerous team.’’

Western New York is red hot after a recent 7-1 win over Boston and now the shutout against Chicago.

Big three back in town


When the Red Stars visit Washington on Saturday, its three Olympians --- Christen Press, Julie Johnston and Alyssa Naiher, will be on the United States roster when it plays South Africa in a friendly match at noon Saturday at Soldier Field.

The U.S. team also faces Costa Rica in a friendly July 22 in Kansas City, Kansas.


The Stars completed a trade with the Boston Breakers, sending one of their international roster spots for the remainder of the 2016 season.  In exchange, the Red Stars receive Boston’s second highest pick in the second round of the 2017 NWSL College Draft. 
With the addition of the second round pick, the Red Stars now hold seven selections in the 2017 College Draft, including one pick in both the first and third rounds, two in the second round and three in the final round. 


League, state and national honors for area athletes in baseball, softball and girls soccer

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



The three Players of the Year featured this week are who the Reporter-Regional newspaper deemed to be the best in the area.

Choosing these athlete is rarely easy. We have a deep pool of athletes to choose from – many have been decorated with honors several times. Here is a look at some of the area award winners:


LOUISVILLE SLUGGER ALL-AMERICAN: Our Player of the Year, Ryan Kutt of Brother Rice, and his teammate, Andrew Dyke were both named to the first team.

ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOL BASEBALL COACHES ASSOCIATION: Kutt and Dyke made the Class 4A team along with Sandburg’s Kevin Lane. Chicago Christian’s Dan Vos and Evergreen Park’s Dan Smith were selected on the Class 3A team.

CHICAGO CATHOLIC LEAGUE: In the Blue Division, Kutt won the Player of the Year award while Dyke won the Tony Lawless Award.

Kutt, Dyke, Jack Nelligan and Mike Massey were Crusaders made the all-conference team while Anthony Rios, Anthony Robles, Angel Sandoval and freshman Matt McCormick were named for St. Laurence.

EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC CONFERENCE: Marist’s John Carmody, Zach Sefcik and Jack Snyder were named to the all-conference squad.


METRO SUBURBAN CONFERENCE: Chicago Christian was represented by Vos, Adam Schoenle, Jacob Bultuis, Tyler Edgar and Zach Frieling.

SOUTH SUBURBAN CONFERENCE RED: Richards placed Angelo Smith, Chris Zeschke, Ryan Renken, Andrew Calderon, Nick Mejia, Nick Fritz and Mitch Crook on the all-conference team.

Shepard’s Rob Marinec, AJ Alarcon, Jordan Noftz and Jack Carberry were named to the team.

Oak Lawn’s Chad Cwik, John Roberts, Justin Swatek and Liam Blake and Evergreen Park’s Jim Smyth and Smith were also were also named.

SOUTHWEST SUBURBAN CONFERENCE BLUE: Sandburg’s Brandon Comia, Andy Gaytan, Lane,  Eric Papierski and Jack Wolfe and Stagg’s Max Downs, Josh Nowak annd Nick Worst were named all-conference.


ILLINOIS COACHES ASSOCIATION: Marist’s Madison Naujokus was named to the Class 4A first-team All-State, Shepard’s Skylor Hilger and Heather O’Kelly plus Sandburg’s Ashley Wood to the second team and Marist’s Paige Egan, Emily Reilly and freshman Angela Zedeck joined Sandburg’s Sam Coffel on the third team.

EAST SUBURBAN CATHOLIC CONFERENCE: Marist landed five on the all-conference first team – Lizzie Annerino, Egan, Cassie Lindmark, Najokas and Zedak.

GIRLS CATHOLIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: Mother McAuley athletes who made the first team were Amy Balich, Holly Marousek, Kathleen Janiga and Alexis Smaharz while Queen of Peace players named were Ashley Lynch, Kelly Walinski and Lindsay Cudecki.

METRO SUBURBAN CONFERENCE: Chicago Christian’s Hannah Dieck, Bethany Regnerus, Brooke Veldman and Christa Janowiak made the all-conference squad.

SOUTH SUBURBAN CONFERENCE RED: Sara Kiziak of Richards was named the league’s Player of the Year for the second time in her career. She also earned it as a sophomore in 2014.

Richards’ Savanah Julian, Lauryn McManus, Becky Wujcik and freshman Isabel Martinez made the all-conference team with Angela Abrand being named honorable mention.

Shepard was represented by Heather O'Kelly, Skylor Hilger, Jalyn Stepney, Bryanna Cross and Gabriella Graffeo.

For Evergreen Park, Bethany Salazar, Maddie Meisl and Maddie Vojacek were all-conference players with Kelly Farmer named honorable mention.

Oak Lawn was represented by Marianna Vazquez and Jessie Hasset.

SOUTHWEST SUBURBAN CONFERENCE BLUE: Sandburg’s Coffel, Niki Saviano, Brianna Soltid and Wood joined Stagg’s Maria Shalabi and freshman Lexi Voss on the all-conference team.


ILLINOIS HIGH SCHOOL SOCCCER COACHES ASSOCIATION ALL STATE: Stagg’s Jazmin Castanon, Sandburg’s Kylie Hase and Marist’s Alex Lenz were named to the team.

IHSSCA ALL SECTIONAL: Queen of Peace’s Krysta Buche and Kelsey Healy and Marist’s Claire Collevy and Cara Donegan made the team.

IHSSCA SECTIONAL HONORABLE MENTION: Marist’s Ashley Smialek, Richards’ Isabella Nelson, Evergreen Park’s Dianne Oladejo, Stagg’s Veronica Stafira and Emily Stefan, Chicago Christian’s Abby Tiermersma, Shepard’s Heather Banis and Carolina Slaby and Sandburg’s Sarah DeWolfe and Sydney Rudny were honored.

EAST SUBUBAN CATHOLIC CONFERENCE: Marist’s Claire Collevy and Kelly Ferguson were named to the all-conference team.

GIRLS CATHOLIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE: Queen of Peace’s Buche was named the White division’s Player of the Year. Teammate Healy was named to the all-conference team.

Mother McAuley’s Maggie Bettinardi was named all-conference in the Red division. 

METRO SUBURBAN CONFERENCE: Chicago Christian’s Tiemersma and Karlee Kuyvenhoven were selected to the all-conference team.

SOUTH SUBURBAN RED: Shepard’s Banis was named Player of the Year while Slaby and Amer Mason were named to the all-conference team.

Dominique Miller and Shannon Meegan of Richards were named to the all-conference team.

Oak Lawn’s Marianna Vazquez and Jessie Hassert plus Evergreen Park’s Jamoriah Gross and Oladejo were also named to the first team.


SOUTHWEST SUBURBAN BLUE: Sandburg’s DeWolf, Hase, Rudny, Bella Strolia and Christine Szymanski were all-conference.

For Stagg, Castanon, Sydney Downs, Stafira and Stefan made the all-conference squad.



Fire and Red Stars notes and news

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

PAGE 2 Thiam

Photo by Jeff Vorva

Khaly Thiam, shown in a match earlier this year, scored his first goal for the Fire June 22, but his team lost a wild 4-3 battle to Philadelphia.


WHEN: 7 p.m., Friday

WHERE: Toyota Park in Bridgeview



LAST TIME: San Jose came up with a 2-1 victory March, 22, 2015 in the third game of the season in California when Fatai Alashe and Ty Hardin scored in the first 21 minutes. Harry Shipp scored in the 29th minute for the Fire and both defenses locked down on the scoring the rest of the way.


WHEN: 6 p.m. Friday

WHERE: Rhino’s Stadium, Rochester, New York



LAST TIME: Casey Short’s goal in the first half gave the Red Stars a 1-0 victory over the Flash on April 23 at Toyota Park in the Red Stars’ home opener.


A lousy night suffered by Fire and Red Stars

The Fire played out east on the same night the Red Stars played out west and neither Chicago team came home with a point.

The Fire finally got its offense in gear but suffered a 4-3 setback at Philadelphia on June 22, the same night the Red Stars lost their footing for first place with a 2-0 setback to new National Women’s Soccer League-leader Portland.

The Fire had an 11-match streak in Major League Soccer in which it had one or zero goals heading into Philadelphia and when it fell behind 4-1 to the Eastern Conference-leading Union, it was in danger of suffering its worst loss of the year.

Razvan Cocis and Khaly Thiam prevented that with goals in the 69th and 80th minutes respectively, but the Fire couldn’t knot things up the rest of the way.

First-year Fire coach Veljko Paunovic, who was getting aggravated with his team’s losing ways even before this match, was disappointed after his team fell to 2-7-5 on the season and has endured a 32-match road streak without a victory. But he was glad his team put itself in a position to tie or take the lead in the closing minutes.

“We said that when I came to Chicago that we will fight every single game until the end and that's what we proved,’’ Paunovic said. “Of course that's not enough, we've got to get better, we've got to win games, overall we have to improve." 

David Accam, who spent an unhealthy chunk of the season on the shelf with a knee injury, scored his sixth goal in seven games to open the scoring. He has 27 goals in 31 games played on the MLS level and if he can stay healthy and when new player Michael de Leeuw is eligible July 9, maybe the Fire can make multiple goal games a habit.

The defense has usually been solid or stellar most of the season but it allowed four goals against Philadelphia (7-4-5) including a hat trick from Roland Alberg. His first goal banged off the goal, off defender Jonathan Campbell and into the net in the 11th minute. Toward the end of the first half, Alberg struck again after goalie Sean Johnson and teammate Johan Kappelhof deflected shots to open the sequence.

"I don't believe in being unlucky, I just believe in performance and I think that in those situations we could react better for sure,’’ the coach said.

Meanwhile in Portland, the Red Stars (5-2-3) managed just three shots on goal and none found the net and will part ways with star players Christen Press, Alyssa Naeher and Julie Johnston for five games as they train for and play in Olympic competition.

The loss snapped an eight-match unbeaten streak for the Red Stars, who gave up both goals in the first 25 minutes of the match. Christine Sinclair popped a shot in early at the 6-minute mark and Nadia Nadim added one at the 25-minute mark.


 Gilberto gone

The Fire and Gilberto parted ways as both sides mutually agreed to terminate his contract, the team announced.

The Brazilian striker was reported to have been paid a team-high $1.14 million this season. He had no goals and two assists in nine matches.

"Despite his best efforts, Gilberto was not able to reach his top form in Major League Soccer," said Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez. "He is a good person, with a big heart and a passion for the game, and we hope he finds success at his next stop."

Gilberto was signed by the Fire as a Designated Player on July 27 after the club claimed him on waivers. In his first season with the Fire, he scored five goals and added two assists in ten games but this year struggled.

Still Hunting

The Fire knocked off Columbus, 2-1 June 28 in the round of 16 of the 103rd Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Toyota Park. Accam had both goals and had four goals in two Hunt Cup games. The Fire hosts either Orlando City of the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in the quarterfinals on July 20.

Even though the team has been struggling in MLS play, winning Cup games has not been taken lightly.

"The Cup is important for this club,’’ Accam said. “As a player, every game is important, we want to win every game. We take every game with seriousness, and for us every time we play a game, we try to win it." 

Goalie Matt Lampson, who had not played in the Fire’s previous five MLS games, picked up his second Cup start and victory.