The Chicago Journal

Chicago Fire FC Appoints Frank Klopas as Head Coach

In a momentous announcement, Chicago Fire FC has officially appointed the esteemed Frank Klopas as its head coach. This move solidifies Klopas’s enduring connection with the Club, showcasing his commitment to success since 1998.

Frank Klopas: A Resilient Leader

Frank Klopas, a revered member of the Club’s Ring of Fire and the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame, brings a wealth of experience to his new role. His multifaceted involvement with the Chicago Fire and Major League Soccer spans various capacities, reflecting a deep understanding of the league dynamics.

Sporting Director’s Endorsement:

Georg Heitz, the Sporting Director of Chicago Fire FC, expressed confidence in the appointment. Heitz highlighted Klopas’s diligence, robust relationships with players and staff, and a proven track record of success. The decision stems from a meticulous selection process, emphasizing Klopas’s role in fostering a winning culture within the Club.

Klopas’s Vision:

During the interview process, Frank Klopas articulated a comprehensive plan to instill a winning mentality and culture within the team. Aligned with the Club’s objectives, Klopas envisions strengthening key areas to enhance competitiveness in the upcoming 2024 season. Collaborative efforts with Klopas will focus on refining the roster and assembling a top-tier coaching staff.

Return to Coaching:

This marks Klopas’s second stint as the full-time head coach of the Club, with previous interim roles. Notably, in the 2023 season, he led the team through 24 matches, showcasing his leadership prowess. Klopas boasts a remarkable 49-43-29 regular season record as the head coach, securing the third-highest winning percentage in Club history.

Milestones and Achievements:

Klopas’s coaching journey is marked by milestones, including leading the team to the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup final in 2011 and achieving the third-most regular season victories in a single season in Club history in 2012. His strategic prowess is evident in a 17-win season that propelled the team to the MLS Cup Playoffs.

Klopas’s Commitment to Chicago:

Expressing deep affection for the Club and the city, Klopas emphasizes Chicago as his home. His commitment extends beyond coaching; it is a personal mission to bring success to the Fire. Gratitude is extended to Joe Mansueto and the technical staff for their trust, and fans are acknowledged for unwavering support.

Player and Icon:

Before his coaching tenure, Klopas enjoyed a distinguished playing career, making over 300 professional appearances and scoring 81 goals. As a Chicago soccer icon, he played a pivotal role in the Fire’s inaugural season success, clinching both the MLS Cup and the U.S Open Cup in 1998.

Versatile Contributions:

Beyond coaching, Klopas served as the Fire’s assistant coach, technical director, and made a significant impact during his tenure with CF Montréal. His achievements include a Canadian Championship title (2014) and reaching the final of the Concacaf Champions League (2014-15).

Takeaway:

Frank Klopas’s return to the helm symbolizes a pivotal moment for Chicago Fire FC. His unparalleled dedication, strategic acumen, and historical significance make him an invaluable asset. As the Club eagerly anticipates positive moments at Soldier Field, Klopas’s leadership promises to shape a new era of excellence.

MLS Season Pass becomes huge stepping stone

MLS Season Pass Soccer has increased in popularity in the United States over the previous decade, owing to World Cup improvements.

Major League Soccer (MLS), the country’s domestic league, has also played a significant part in bringing one of the world’s most popular sports to the attention of Americans.

The MLS Season Pass has been in the works for years, and it will see the sport grow even further in 2023.

The news

The MLS Season Pass studio facility on Park Avenue and 106th Street in Manhattan had not yet been erected two months prior.

The goal was achieved thanks to a cooperation between MLS and Apple that worked under a specific timeframe: February 25, the start of the 2023 MLS season.

MLS Commissioner Don Garber stated during a season-launch event on Wednesday:

“I love this expression: no pressure, no diamonds. If you don’t put yourself to task, then you’re never going to be able to achieve the impossible.”

The ceremony was held in a building that will soon house MLS 360, a new whip-around program that will provide live look-ins, analysis, and conversations for every match.

There are also separate studios for pregame and postgame shows, which start and conclude each match night and use cutting-edge technology, capabilities, and designs.

“It’s been 27 years of waiting for this moment, to see this studio, to see MLS be put on the forefront,” said Taylor Twellman, an MLS Season Pass match analyst.

“I think all of us need to be reminded of how monumental today is and what this season’s going to be because I’ve never seen a studio like this.”

Read also: Riqui Puig has high hopes for 2023 LA Galaxy campaign

Streaming

The MLS Season Pass is a one-of-a-kind package that offers fans a consistent location to watch the regular season, Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, and Leagues Cup.

Before, games were shown on local or regional television.

They may now watch globally on Apple TV thanks to MLS’s partnership with Apple.

However, the matches will not be unique to Apple because there are still conventional partners that telecast some games, such as:

  • FOX Sports
  • TelevisaUnivision (Leagues Cup matches)
  • TSN
  • RDS

Schedules for MLS Season Passes have also been altered to around 7:30 p.m. Saturdays and occasionally Wednesdays are local time.

A new age

“Someone shared with me awesome insight, that an MLS executive recently said how baseball was born on the radio, football on TV, and soccer is being born now in the age of digital streaming,” said Jillian Sakovits, one of the MLS Season Pass hosts.

The MLS Season Pass also includes the following figures:

  • MLS Season Pass broadcaster Maurice Edu
  • MLS Commissioner Don Garber
  • Deputy Commissioner Gary Stevenson
  • MLS Season Pass Broadcaster Taylor Twellman

“We are playing in the global game and we’re not yet the global league that we want to be,” said Garber.

“And what better way to do that than with a global digital partner that is ubiquitous around the world?”

“It’s just starting, and I can tell you what it’s like to have our clubs talk to a player from Argentina or from Brazil or from Croatia or from England and know that you’ll be able to deliver a game directly to one of their fans with the click of a button,” he continued.

“That is perhaps the most exciting part of this new partnership.”

League expansion

For the next season, the MLS has increased its roster to 29 clubs, with St. Louis City SC making their debut.

Don Garber revealed on Wednesday that San Diego and Las Vegas, like they have in previous years, are viable candidates for the 30th franchise.

He also claimed that an announcement will be made by the end of the year, underlining the possibility of expanding beyond 30 clubs.

“I don’t ever say never in Major League Soccer,” said Garber. “There are many other markets that are opportunities for us.”

“Soccer is exploding professionally everywhere on the professional side, on the men’s and women’s side. So we’ll see.”

Riqui Puig has high hopes for 2023 LA Galaxy campaign

Riqui Puig: La Masia is the name of FC Barcelona’s youth academy, which produces new players and educates them about the club’s tactics and philosophies.

The academy is situated in Sant Joan Desp, a neighborhood of Barcelona, Spain, in the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper training center.

With the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and Gerard Piqué among its many accomplished professional athletes, it is regarded as one of the most prominent youth academies in the world.

One of the most recent players to leave La Masia is Riqui Puig.

Although he was destined for greatness at FC Barcelona, the youthful phenom looked for better opportunities and, last season, found solace with the Los Angeles Galaxy squad.

The break

It is not surprising that Puig has lots of time to spare right now, given that the regular season begins next month.

Riqui Puig appears to be the exception with most individuals being thrilled by the thought of taking a holiday in Los Angeles.

On the Catalunya Radio show “Tot Costa,” Spanish journalist Rut Vilar revealed something.

“Riqui Puig is bored in Los Angeles.”

“Los Angeles and Miami are not pleasant cities to live in,” she explained. “Everything is by car, there is no nucleus.”

“When you are used to doing a lot in the city, as is the case with Riqui Puig, for example, it is not the same in Los Angeles or Miami as it is in New York.”

Puig was spotted in Barcelona before the program.

He was observed paying a visit to his friend Gerard Piqué at his King’s League project.

2022 season

In 2022, Riqui Puig made his LA Galaxy debut, assisting the squad in finishing fourth.

The midfielder is hopeful about the team’s chances of winning the MLS Cup in 2023 despite the team’s shortcomings.

“We were closer to winning than they were, honestly,” said Puig after their semifinal loss to rival LA FC. “But soccer is like that.”

“It’s not the best team that wins, the team that scores the most goals wins. Soccer is about scoring goals.”

Read also: Michael Ramey’s Rise to Stardom in International Basketball

Puig

Spanish-born professional soccer player Riqui Puig is the Los Angeles Galaxy’s current midfielder.

Puig is a graduate of FC Barcelona’s youth program, La Masia, which he entered at the age of nine.

He rose through the ranks of the academy, and in 2018 he made his senior team debut.

In midfield, Riqui Puig is renowned for his technical prowess, ball-control, and vision.

He is also regarded as a promising future player with potential.

He has furthermore represented Spain’s U-21 national team.

From Barcelona to LA

In August, Riqui Puig made a free transfer move from Barcelona to Los Angeles.

Despite his short time with the squad, he had had a significant influence.

“I think the results are there to see,” said the La Masia product. “I came with a lot of motivation.”

“When you’re not active for a while, not getting minutes, you want to prove yourself.”

“I came here, they put their confidence in me, I played, and I think I showed [what I can do].”

LA Galaxy 2023

This year’s Galaxy team will be completely new because the team is releasing eight players from the previous season.

MLS legend Sasha Kljestaan will be retiring.

By switching to the Colorado Rapids, Kevin Cabral frees up the team’s designated player berth.

Douglas Costa and Chicharito will also accompany Cabral in leaving.

Despite being unable to sign players from outside the country, the LA Galaxy has already acquired Chris Mavinga and Memo Rodriguez.

Riqui Puig, in contrast, feels optimistic about the team’s chances of winning this season.

“I think last year, I wanted to make the playoffs. I think I got here a little too late,” he said.

“But this year, starting from zero, we have a big chance to win the league, and I think we’re going to win it.”

“We need to show that the Los Angeles Galaxy still have a lot to be done and are still a big name.”

References:

Former Barcelona midfielder Riqui Puig “gets bored” in Los Angeles

Riqui Puig: LA Galaxy “have a big chance” to win MLS Cup in 2023

A heated match rewards the Portland Timbers with a win over Austin FC

On Wednesday night, the Portland Timbers continued their momentum with a thrilling win over Austin FC. 

Last weekend, the Timbers won the Cascadia Cup before heading to Texas. 

In the Q2 stadium, the guests managed to knock off the Western Conference runners-up. 

The lineup

Coach Giovanni Savarese fielded the same XI that beat the Seattle Sounders last week. 

The roster included: Aljaz Ivacic, Santiago Moreno, Bill Tuiloma, Dario Zuparic, Zac McGraw, Claudio Bravo, Diego Chara, Eryk Williamson, Sebastian Blanco, Dairon Asprilla, and Yimmi Chara.

Meanwhile, David Bingham, Pablo Bonilla, Larrys Mabiala, JoseCarlos Van Rankin, David Ayala, Marvin Loria, Christhian Paredes, Jaroslaw Niezgoda, and Tiega Ikoba were on the bench. 

The game 

The first half of the duel was one of the most heated the Portland Timbers have had this season as Austin kept the defense on edge. 

While the home side unfortunately converted their chances, the Timbers were not without their misfortunes. 

Portland had the opportunity to take the lead in a counterattack that worried home fans. 

The visitors finally got their breakthrough with a free kick from Eryk Williamson, which hit Bill Tuiloma and opened the way.

In the second half, Austin maintained his momentum when a corner led to a near chance that the Timbers were lucky enough to escape in a fight. 

Despite dominating the game, Portland won when center-back Zac McGraw found the back of the net after bouncing off Austin’s goalkeeper. 

Seven minutes later, Austin pulled one out and slashed the Timbers’ lead by one with a header from Ivacic. 

However, Portland rallied to maintain its lead, and the final whistle confirmed that the Timbers had taken all three points. 

Aftermath and remaining matches 

The Portland Timbers took a win in their biggest win of the season.

Although the Seattle Sounders were their biggest rivals and gave them one of the toughest matches to secure their first Cascadia Cup since 2017, Austin FC’s quality was unmatched by the Sounders. 

The Timbers are currently seventh above the playoff line with five games left in the campaign. 

They are just three points behind Nashville SC and Real Salt Lake (fifth and sixth in the standings) and five points behind Minnesota United FC in third place. 

Portland’s next two games are at home, where they will play against Atlanta United FC on September 4 and Minnesota on September 10 September.

The team then travels to Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference opponent, before playing their last home game against LAFC.

The Portland Timbers end their campaign on October 9 when they travel to Salt Lake City.

References:

Match recap & highlights: Austin FC 1 – 2 Portland Timbers

The Timbers shock Austin FC with a 2-1 road victory