February 7, 2011 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Chicago Fire
With a week of double-days in the books and a Sunday to rest, the Fire returned to the Bridgeview Soccer and Sports Dome Monday as the Men in Red got back to the business of preparing for the upcoming MLS season.
Newly minted forward Gaston Puerari, who arrived in Chicago early Sunday morning, donned a Fire training kit as he made his debut at the Fire's indoor facility. The 25-year-old Uruguayan joined his new teammates in a two and a half hour session Monday. The former Wanderers forward will have a week to get acclimated to Chicago before the club departs for Ave Maria, FL and the second leg of the Fire's preseason camp on Monday, Feb. 14.
The Fire have 39 players in camp heading into Week 2. Puerari brings the total of signed players on the Fire's preseason roster to 21. Supplemental draft pick Yannick Salmon has been released from the club's training camp, as have trialists Barry Rice, Ashley McInnes and Hunter Jarrett.
CHICAGO FIRE SCHEDULE TO BE RELEASED THURSDAY, FEB. 10
Major League Soccer will release the league's full 2011 schedule this Thursday, February 10. The Fire already know the dates and opponents of four of their 34 matches for 2011, starting with FC Dallas on Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 before Opening Day at TOYOTA PARK vs. Sporting KC on Saturday, March 26 at 3:00 PM CT.
The club will also help open two new stadiums, first visiting the renovated PGE Park, home of the expansion Portland Timbers on Thursday, April 14 before becoming the first MLS side to visit KC Soccer Stadium for the return leg with Sporting KC on Thursday, June 9.
NEW LOOK BACKLINE
It's very likely that come the club's First Kick on March 19 at FC Dallas, the Fire will have a completely different backline than the one that started the 2010 season. The back line that day (March 27 at New York) featured C.J. Brown and Wilman Conde in the middle with Tim Ward and Mike Banner on the outside. Of the four, only Banner remains with the club and is more apt in the midfield.
To combat the turnover, the Fire signed U.S. international Cory Gibbs, Croatian Josip Mikulic and selected University of North Carolina defender Jalil Anibaba with the club's first pick in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft. The three offseason acquisitions in defense will compliment veteran defenders Gonzalo Segares and Dasan Robinson as well as second-year backliners Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Steven Kinney.
AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
In the months (76 days to be exact) leading up to preseason camp, the Fire's technical staff has been around the world to scout talent and build better relationships with foreign clubs ahead of the 2011 MLS season.
Since the end of the 2010 campaign, the Fire's technical staff has traveled to four continents and scouted talent in 11 different nations including, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Croatia, Ecuador, England, Germany, Ghana, Serbia, Slovenia and Uruguay.
In addition to the global search, Klopas, Jeffries, de los Cobos and the rest of the technical staff spent countless hours scouting the collegiate game in the U.S. ahead of the 2011 MLS SuperDraft and Supplemental Draft. The Fire drafted six players; among them 2011 adidas MLS Combine MVP Jalil Anibaba.
FIRE PRESEASON GAME SCHEDULE
Feb. 17: Chicago Fire vs. Florida Gulf Coast University - Ave Maria University, Ave Maria, FL
Feb. 23: Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls (10 and noon) - Lockhart Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Feb. 26: Chicago Fire vs. Seattle Sounders FC (1 pm) - IMG Academy in Bradenton, FL
March 5: Chicago Fire vs. Toronto FC (4:00 PM) - Carolina Challenge Cup, Charleston, SC
March 6: Chicago Fire vs. UNC-Greensboro - time and location TBD, Charleston, SC
March 9: Chicago Fire vs. D.C. United (4:00 PM) - Carolina Challenge Cup, Charleston, SC
March 12: Chicago Fire vs. Charleston Battery (6:15) - Carolina Challenge Cup, Charleston, SC
(All times central)
SEASON TICKET HOLDERS ELIGIBLE FOR EXCLUSIVE WATCH PARTY AT TOYOTA PARK
All Season Ticket Holders that buy or renew for 2011 will be eligible for an exclusive Season Ticket Holder Watch Party at TOYOTA PARK for the Fire's MLS First Kick 2011 match on Saturday, March 19 at FC Dallas. Fans will get a tour of TOYOTA PARK, including the locker room, have the chance to meet Fire players, peruse 2011 merchandise all in the lead-up to the club's Brimstone Cup clash at Pizza Hut Park.
Chicago Fire Season Tickets are available by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE (657-3473), via Ticketmaster or by heading to the club's official website at Chicago-Fire.com .