Fire and Red Stars analysis

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Kennedy Igboananike, shown in a game earlier this season, was dealt from the Fire to D.C. United on Friday. He had nearly 25 percent of the Fire’s goals this season at the tie of the trade.


Chicago Fire at Real Salt Lake

WHEN: 9 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah


REAL SALT LAKE RECORD: 9-6-7 (as of Sunday)

LAST TIME: Salt Lake won 2-1 in Bridgeview May 9, 2015 as Alvaro Saborio and Luke Mulholland scored while the Fire’s Jeff Larentowicz was able to find that back of the net in the 88th minute on a penalty kick.

Another late goal robs Fire of victory


Chicago Fire officials continue to perform surgery on their roster while Sunday night another late goal let up by the defense cut the heart right out of the team.

Bradley Wright-Phillips of the New York Red Bulls scored his 12th goal of the season in the 90th minute to tie the Fire 2-2 Sunday in a Major League Soccer game in front of an announced crowd of 17,221 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.

The Fire (4-10-6) suffered either losses or ties five times this year when opponents scored in the 85th minute or later.

This one really got to rookie coach Veljko Paunovic.

"Losing these two points for me is tougher than any other defeat we have had this year,’’ Paunovic said. “I think that maturity and mentality comes in play and I think that we did most of the things very well but we have to learn how to win games. Positive side is that we came back from the early goal against New York. That is the positive side but we have to learn how to manage the game and keep that result or even increase the lead so we move forward.

“We played tough which is a part of our identity. After having to react to a negative result in the first half we have to learn to either score the third goal which is something that we were looking for in the second half. Starting the second half that was our goal but then you don't concede, you have to go and keep the score especially in the last five or ten minutes."

David Accam scored his team-high fifth goal of the year and Matt Polster added one for the Fire, but was also the victim of knocking the ball into his own net to allow New York (10-9-4) the first score of the night in the 16th minute.

"(Goalie) Sean (Johnson) and I talked at halftime --  it looked like Sean was going to have it, but then I looked and it kind of hung up there, so then last second I went for it and just a little miscommunication,” Polster said. “I didn't hear anything, but I also should have just cleared it myself. I think sometimes you just have to take it into your own hands and just do it. I second-guessed myself and that's on me." 

The loss came two days after the team traded Kennedy Igboananike to D.C. United for Target Allocation Money and the natural third-round selection in the 2019 SuperDraft.

The Designated Player had four goals which, at the time of the trade tied Accam for first on the team, and one assist. The team had an MLS-low 17 goals at the time of the deal so he accounted for nearly 25 percent of the scoring. He will continue to be classified as a Designated Player on the roster and will remain on the Fire’s payroll. Some may view this move that the Fire has given up on its chances for the playoffs but officials said they had planned on making some moves to acquire players this week.

"Moves like this are needed in order to execute our plan for roster development," said general manager Nelson Rodriguez. "Kennedy puts his heart into his work and has served this club well. We wish him the best in D.C. and wherever his career leads him."


 Long rest comes at a good time for Red Stars


And now, some rest.

A lot of rest.

The Chicago Red Stars knocked off the 2015 National Women’s Soccer League champion, FC Kansas City, 1-0, Saturday night in front of an announced crowd of 2,550. Newcomer Stephanie McCaffrey scored the lone goal in the 53rd minute and goalie Michele Dalton notched the shutout.

The league takes an extended break because so many of its stars are competing in the Olympics and the Red Stars’ next game will be Aug. 27 at Sky Blue FC and their next home game will be Sept. 4 against the Seattle Reign.

Red Stars coach Rory Dames, whose team is 7-4-4, is happy for the break as some of his players are banged up. They were given a full week off this week and practice begins again next week.  

“This group has worked very hard the last four and-a-half weeks,” Dames said. “Some of the players are being held together by tape. They need to get away and take a break and get ready for the home stretch – where is always seems to come down to.’’

McCaffrey, who was traded from Boston to the Red Stars July 22, made her first start and provided the lone offense as the team is 4-0-3 at home.

“I should have walked away with more than one,” McCaffrey said. “This team puts the forwards in a lot of good positions.’’

KC fell to 4-7-4.

After the game, the team retired the number – 17 -- of Lori Chalupny, a 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist and 2015 FIFA World Cup champion who played with the Red Stars for four years.



Passafiume in line to be next Richards boys basketball coach

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Chris Passafiume has been recommended by Richards Athletic Director Ken Styler and a search committee to become the new boys basketball coach at the Oak Lawn school.

The Evergreen Park resident will replace Jevon Mamon, who took a job at Hyde Park’s coach after two years with the Bulldogs. Passafiume was the Bulldogs’ sophomore coach last season and has taught and coached in District 218 since 2010. He has also coached boys and girls soccer at the school.

More information will be found in the Aug. 4 edition of the Regional and Reporter.


High School Roundup: Richards' Mamon heading to Hyde Park

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Calling it one of the "most difficult decisions" he had to make, Jevon Mamon recently resigned as Richards' boys basketball coach to take over as the coach at Hyde Park.

Mamon's teams went 14-14 and 14-14 in the two years he was coach at the Oak Lawn school but this year could be a breakout year. Jaylan Catledge is a two-time Regional-Reporter Player of the Year and could be back and freshman Sean Willis made an impact after being brought in in the middle of the season.

"These kids at Richards were great and gave me everything that they had," Mamon said. "I appreciate that. The kids know if they ever need me, I'll be there for them. We're still a family.''

More information will be available in the Aug. 4 edition of the Regional and Reporter.

Reed ready to hit ground running at St. Laurence

St. Laurence officials replaced a retired 40-year cross country and track coach with a guy who has plenty of local and national ties to the running world.

Darrell Reed takes the helm of both sports for Terry Murphy, who retired in the spring. Reed spent the last four years as an assistant track coach at Lincoln-Way East and has coaching experience at De La Salle, Jones College Prep, the Merrillville Track Club in Indiana and is an official with the USA Track and Field organization.

“I’m extremely excited for the opportunity that our athletic director and the St. Laurence family have given me,” Reed said. “One of my goals as a head coach is to teach our young men the value of a four-part philosophy - God, coach, athlete and community. In addition, my staff and I would like to challenge our young athletes to not be afraid to win - in the classroom, on the track and in life.”

The Mokena resident and his wife, Carla, have two children (Christopher and Camille) who will be a part of the Lewis University track programs in the coming seasons.

“We are extremely excited to add a coach of Darrell’s character, energy and enthusiasm to lead our track and field and cross country programs,” said St. Laurence Athletic Director Tim Chandler. “His vision and goals for the programs are aligned with those of the athletic department, and I am confident that he will add to the impressive success that Viking athletics has achieved over the recent years.” 

Prior to coaching, Reed was a two-sport athlete running track and playing baseball in high school. He received a scholarship to play both sports in college at Florida State University before an injury in summer ball ended his career.

Marist All-American wrestlers

Marist wrestlers Michael Laveille and Jacob Dado earned All-America status after competing in the Asics/Vaughan Cadet Junior National Championships last week in North Dakota.

Laveille took seventh place at 100 pounds in the Junior Greco division while Dado was eighth in the 132 division of the Cadet Freestyle division. 

 13 is a good number for Shepard runner

Paul Milkus of Shepard finished 13th out of 449 runners in the Detweiler at Dark high school boys race Friday at Detweiler Park in Peoria – the site of the Illinois High School Association state cross country meets.

Milkus ran 15 minutes, 45 seconds over the course. Also in the top 100, Palos Heights’ Joey Iaquinta was 88th.

On the girls side, Lyons Township’s Sarah Barcelona took 14th out of 314 runners with an 18:32 and teammate Cara Paliakas was 48th.

High rollers

Orland Park’s Emily Schrader, a junior-to-be at Sandburg, finished in 148th place out of 792 bowlers in the United States Bowling Congress Junior Gold 20-under division in Indianapolis last week. She shot an average of 177.06 for 16 games.

Oak Lawn’s Alex Wozniak took 274th, Burbank’s Ashley Kuba was 289th and Oak Lawn’s Peyton Attig was 740th.

 Smith puts up another zero

Richards graduate Angelo Smith threw a scoreless inning in the Double Duty Classic at U.S. Cellular Field on July 19.

It was the second time Smith was invited to the showcase. Last year, he threw two scoreless innings.

Not really worth the wait

  • Written by Jeff Vorva

PAGE 1 KUTT 7 28


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Brother Rice first baseman Ryan Kutt hustled but could not catch a foul popup in Monday’s loss to Plainfield South.

Brother Rice had one of the best baseball teams in the state and nation this spring and came up short in the Illinois High School Association state tournament by falling in the sectionals.

The Crusaders were hoping for some kind of state championship hardware to show for it. While the Lawler Summer Classic State Tournament technically is more of a Chicago-area event rather than an all-out state event, they were gunning for the title but fell short in a heartbreaking 3-2 loss to Plainfield South in a game that started on Thursday and ended on Monday night at Boomers Stadium in Schaumburg. The game was postponed in the bottom of the third after lighting was spotted and storms hit the area.

Brother Rice’s Ryan Kutt, who drove in a run in the first and another in the fifth, threw a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh and Plainfield celebrated.

“As a pitcher, you have to bear down,” the Illinois-bound Kutt said. “Sometimes it’s not going to go your way and this was one of those days. It took a wrong bounce. That’s just baseball.’’

Kutt and teammates Jake Ridgway, Jack Guzek and Ryan Palmblad were named to the All-Tournament team.

Despite the disappointing finish, the game produced an unusual and dramatic moment for Zach Litke.

In the bottom of the third, the Cougars scored a run and had the bases loaded with one out and the Crusaders made a pitching change when lightning was spotted northwest of the park. Litke was introduced as the pitcher so he said he came into Monday’s game figuring he was going to throw a pitchout for his required pitch before the Crusaders brought in the more experienced Kutt in.

But Crusaders coach John McCarthy informed Oak Lawn’s Litke he would pitch to the first batter – Marco Escobar – and Litke responded by coaxing Escobar to hit into a double play.

“He showed us he’s got the guts to get the job done,” Kutt said.

“I was definitely excited to get that chance – but I knew it was going to be tough,” Litke said. “The bases were loaded. I had to do something. I knew I had to keep it low.’’

The climb to the championship game was not easy.

The Crusaders lost their quarterfinal game on July 18, 4-0, to St. Charles North at Naperville Central in a game that was postponed four hours and changed venues after North Central College was deemed unplayable because of a previous night’s storm. But that portion of the tournament was double-elimination so they stayed alive.

The next day, they needed to win two games to stay alive and the Crusaders had their aces on the mound. Kutt threw a shutout in an 8-0 victory over Lyons Township and Guzek also recorded a shutout in a 4-0 revenge victory over St. Charles North at Benedictine University.

That set up a semifinal battle with Huntley at Boomers Stadium and it was pitcher Palmblad’s turn to put zeros on the board as he shut the Red Raiders out in a 3-0 victory.

To get to the final eight, the Crusaders won the Richards Regional with an 8-0 victory over Chicago Christian, a 12-3 win over St. Laurence and an 8-5 championship win over Marist.


Soccer report -- Olympics, Fire and Red Stars

  • Written by Jeff Vorva



Photo by Jeff Vorva

The Red Stars’ Danielle Colaprico jumps into the arms of a teammate after scoring a goal in the opening minutes of a 1-1 tie with Houston.


'The best team in the world' ready to make history

There doesn’t seem to be any time penciled in for the United States Olympic women’s soccer team to take in any of the historic sites in Brazil next week.

The players plan on making a little history of their own, however.

The team, which features Chicago Red Stars players Christen Press, Julie Johnston and Alyssa Naeher – will attempt to be the first U.S. team to win a World Cup title one year and follow up with a gold medal the next. Red Stars coach Rory Dames calls the US team “the best team in the world.”

The U.S. team will open Group G play on Wednesday - 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 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).

Then the real action starts – the medal rounds.

So, forget sightseeing.

“I would love to explore Brazil and to get to know it,” Press said. “I would love that, but this isn’t the trip for that. We probably won’t do anything. This is about trying to win a gold medal. Maybe down the line I can make a return trip and explore all of that and enjoy all of that.’’

Press scored a goal in a 4-0 friendly victory over Costa Rica Friday in Kansas City to send the team to Brazil in style. Johnston also played in the match and Naeher, the backup to Hope Solo as goalie, played the second half and kept Costa Rica off the scoreboard.

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 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 Crystal Dunn, Lexi Morgan and 18-year-old Mallory Pugh at the forward spots. The team is rounded out by midfielders Morgan Brian, Tobin Heath, Lindsey Horan, Carli Lloyd, Allie Long and Megan Rapinoe.

Dames says he is worried about the Red Stars and hasn’t been playing too much attention to the U.S. team. But he knows his women’s soccer and what he has seen, he has been impressed with.

“They move the ball – they are super fluid and (coach Jill Ellis) has a ton of options,” Dames said. “They have the best team in the world. I don’t think anybody can debate that. But in fairness to Jill, the best team in the world doesn’t always win. She’s done a really good job of piecing all of that together.

“I hope they win. I would love to be Alylssa, Julie and Kristen come back with gold medals.’’




WHEN: 6 p.m., Sunday

WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview



LAST TIME: The Fire lost to the Red Bulls, 1-0, May 18 at Red Bull Arena. Mike Grella scored the lone goal for New York in the 58th minute and the Fire offense had 14 shots but only two were on goal.

Fire strong in Hunt Cup but still struggling on the road in MLS

When Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic kept some of his most effective players home in what turned out to be a 3-1 loss at Dallas in a Major League Soccer match July 16 and proclaimed the July 20 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup quarterfinal game against Ft. Lauderdale a “must-win” game, it left some fans scratching their heads.

David Accam, Jonathan Campbell and goalie Sean Johnson stayed home against the MLS’s top team but Accam and Campbell played in a 3-0 victory over Ft. Lauderdale at Toyota Park in front of an announced crowd of 3,666.

But on Saturday, they couldn’t keep up the momentum from three days prior and remained winless for an MLS-record 35th road match in a 1-0 setback to New England. The team did not have a single shot on target in the setback and is a league-worst 4-10-5.

Conventional wisdom says to put your eggs in the MLS basket and treat the U.S. Open as a way to get some of the seldom-used roster guys a chance to run around and get some experience.

Unless something really strange happens in the last couple of months, the Fire’s MLS playoff chances are razor thin as the team hasn’t been very sharp in the league all season.

But that’s not what Paunovic is doing. Without publicly saying it, he likely realizes this season is a lost cause in the MLS and is trying to give his team something – anything – to feel good about.  

So perhaps by putting importance on the Cup, it’s some kind of reward for a team with a new general manager, a new coach, a new system and not a lot of results to show for it.

Even though the Hunt Cup crowds have been sparse at Toyota Park, they have been entertained. In the quarterfinals, Accam scored his fourth Cup goal in three matches with a penalty kick in the fifth minute. He also found Michael de Leeuw for a goal in the 35th minute. Dubbed by some as the Lion King offense (Accam is known as King David and de Leeuw’s surname is Dutch for lion), they clicked well on that play. It looked like a tough angle to score.

"I don't think we have scored a more difficult goal all season,’’ Accam said. “For me that is a good striker, he was in a good place, most people would not be there and for him it payed off because he was in a good position."

De Leeuw, who has only been playing with the team since early July, is enjoying having the speedy Accam as a teammate.

“He is like Usain Bolt,” de Leeuw said. “You have to keep up with him.’’

Khaly Thiam scored the third goal in the second half, which allowed the Fire a berth into the semifinals at 7 p.m. Aug. 9 at New England again. The Fire is 0-2 on the road against the Revolution this season. The LA Galaxy and FC Dallas are in the other semifinal match on Aug. 10.

Since 1998, the Fire has compiled a 41-13-5 record in Open Cup play, including a 28-1-2 record in matches played in the state of Illinois, reaching the semifinal round a record 12 times and the final six times. 

In the second semifinal, the LA Galaxy will host FC Dallas on Wednesday, Aug. 10. Fire was given hosting priority should they advance to their seventh final. Information on the final match will be announced once the field is set. 



WHEN: 7 p.m., Saturday

WHERE: Toyota Park, Bridgeview


KC RECORD: 4-6-4

LAST TIME: The two teams battled to a 0-0 draw May 13 in KC. It was the lone scoreless tie for the Red Stars this season.

Red Stars tie dancing Dash a day after trading for offensive threat


How do some soccer teams pass the time away during a weather delay?

The Houston Dash players used an hour-long lightning delay of the start of Saturday night’s game with the Chicago Red Stars to do a variety of things including dancing, according to Houston star Rachel Daly.

Once the game was playable, the Red Stars were dancing after a Danielle Colaprico goal in the second minute. But that was as good at it got for Chicago and Daly scored in the 82nd minute and the two teams tied, 1-1, in a National Women’s Soccer League game in front of an announced crowd of 3,621 at Toyota Park.

The Red Stars (6-4-4) had nine shots and two on target but mustered one goal against the Dash (3-7-2 with a win and a tie over the Red Stars this season).

“We were in some really good spots and made some really bad choices,” Red Stars coach Rory Dames said.

The Red Stars have scored just two goals in their last five games and on Friday the team acquired forward Stephanie McCaffrey from the Boston Breakers for their two highest second-round picks, a third-round and a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NWSL College Draft, as well as an international roster slot for 2017.

McCaffrey, a 23-year old Winchester, Massachusetts, native was selected fifth overall in the 2015 NWSL College Draft by the Red Stars before being traded to Boston in the second round. She made 19 league appearances for the Breakers in 2015, including 17 starts, scoring in her first professional match and ending the season with three goals plus three assists. She played 12 matches for the Breakers this season, starting in 10 of them and logging 921 total minutes but did not score a goal.

McCaffrey played at Boston College, earning team captain duties in her senior year along with being an All-Atlantic Coast Conference First-Team honoree on two occasions. She was also just the fourth player in program history to score 90 or more points.  

“When Christen (Press, who is one of three Red Stars playing in the Olympics) isn’t here, we don’t have a forward on the team with the personality to run at defenders,” Dames said. “Steph’s mentality is just to go at you. She gives us a little bit of personality and a little bit of bite that we don’t have on the front line. I am super excited to have her whether she scores goals or not. She helps create chances and pushes lines farther back.’’

Dames wasn’t planning on using her, but after the Dash knotted the game, McCaffrey entered the game in the 85th minute and beat a defender on a play that did not result in a score.

“It’s been a hectic 48 hours,” McCaffrey said. “I was hoping to come in those last five or six minutes and try to change the game. I love this team and how upset we are to tie the game and not win. The philosophy is that nothing but winning is acceptable.’’