2018 Key Transfers: Philadelphia Union

With the 2018 MLS season drawing ever closer, we have been running through the standout transfers for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we take a look at Philadelphia Union and their key signings ahead of the 2018 MLS season…

There wasn’t really a lot for Philadelphia Union fans to shout about during in the 2017 campaign – finishing 8th in the Eastern Conference, outside of the playoffs. With that in mind it would be fair to say they could do with revamping their squad in hope of reaching the post season. They’ve signed just five players so far, while some notable players have been moved on. It’s going to require a big effort for them to force their way into a playoff spot considering how competitive the Eastern Conference is, but the squad will be ready and raring to go come the start of the season.

Key Signings

David Accam: Easily the biggest signing for Philadelphia Union during the window. David Accam comes in as a designated player from Chicago. He has an impressive MLS record in his three seasons so far, scoring 33 in 78, with a further 15 assists. His goal contribution makes him an ideal forward to help Philadelphia push in the right direction. At 27 they have picked up a player nearing the peak of his powers and the Union faithful will be hoping he can produce on their opener to give everyone a lift and positive start to the 2018 season.

Cory Burke: Firepower is what Philly have needed and this is another signing who will be hoping to make a difference. Cory Burke isn’t exactly a household name but he has international experience under his belt with Jamaica. Coming in from USL side Bethlehem Steel FC, he bagged an nine goals in 25 games last season. He will be looking to put pressure on his teammates Jay Simpson and C.J. Sapong for a starting place.

Notable Departures

Chris Pontius: Heading into his tenth MLS campaign having scored 45 goals in 215 games, Chris Pontius leaves Philly after two seasons. His experience will be missed but it seems a good time for him to be moved on as both parties look to freshen things up.

Roland Alberg: Having played 52 times for Philadelphia over two seasons Roland Alberg is on the move. He scored 16 goals and picked up four assists during his time at the club and will be a miss in the middle of the park.

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2018 Key Transfers: Chicago Fire

As the 2018 MLS season closes in, we will run through the key additions and losses for all 23 teams over the course of the winter transfer window. There have been a number of key signings and significant trades which should ensure the new season is as exciting as ever before. Today we look at all Chicago Fire’s key transfers and what it could mean for them in their 2018 MLS campaign…

Chicago Fire were impressive during the 2017 season. Finishing in the top three was a major improvement on the previous year, although they did fall short at the first hurdle in the playoffs. Now it is time for Veljko Paunović’s side to kick on and see if they can reach the playoffs for the second season on the bounce. There have been some high profile departures from the squad with as many as 13 shown the exit door. The Fire have added five new faces so far but it would be a surprise to see their business stop there…

Key signings

Grant Lillard: Tipped as one of the best college soccer players over the last four years, Grant Lillard is an exciting prospect for Chicago. The 6-foot-4 central defender is rated highly by General Manager Nelson Rodriguez who feels he can become a dominant player. Lillard featured in an Indiana University side that conceded just seven goals in 25 games, so it is clear he has the potential to be a future star. While he may not be expected to be a regular starter in his rookie season, he will no doubt be utilised and coming up against some of the best attacking sides in MLS is only going to help him improve his qualities.

Rafael Ramos: Another defender with the potential to make an impact for Chicago. Rafael Ramos is a name familiar to MLS having been at Orlando City since their introduction to the league back in 2015. He’s made 37 appearances in his MLS career so far and at just 23 there is plenty of time for him to become a regular feature of the Fire backline. Providing healthy competition for Matt Polster will be beneficial to improving Chicago’s squad depth.

Jon Bakero: When talking about having a name to live up to, there might not be a huge amount of people who can tell you much about Jon Bakero. He is the son of former Spanish international and Barcelona attacking midfielder Jose Mari Bakero. The 21-year-old is looking to follow in the footsteps of his father and make a name for himself, and while he has not yet played in Europe, his inception into MLS has an impressive back story. He was awarded with the Hermann Trophy as the NCAA’s top player for 2017 and the Class Award during his senior college year. His commitment to college soccer has shown his desire to succeed and signing through the SuperDraft is a clear indication of his efforts paying off. Bakero is going to be one to keep an eye on…

Aleksander Katai: The Serbian has come in on loan from Deportivo Alaves. As a versatile option in either attacking midfield or on the wing he is seen as a positive addition to the Chicago squad and someone who can help fill the void left by recent departures.

Notable Departures 

John Goossens: The loss of John Goossens might not come as too much of a surprise for many, however he will be a player Chicago will miss having in the squad – highlighted by the number of times he featured for the Fire last season. The midfielder made 24 appearances in the 2017 campaign, starting 15. He was an important member of the squad who surprisingly was their second-highest assist provider with four, while he added three more goals himself.

Joao Meira: Chicago’s top four appearances makers were defenders and Joao Meira was one of them. A fundamental part of their backline, he started 27 of his 30 games in 2017 but is now a free agent. After 58 appearances with Chicago during his two seasons with the club he signed a contract with Lorca FC in the Spanish Segunda, although his contract has since been terminated after the side failed to meet their previously agreed terms, leaving him in limbo.

David Accam: The biggest departure from Chicago has to be David Accam – their top scorer in the 2017 campaign. The winger, who as we all know has blistering pace and the ability to create something from nothing, has moved on to Eastern Conference rivals Philadelphia Union. He will be a huge miss for the Chicago starting XI and is yet to be replaced with a like-for-like attacker in terms of quality and experience.

Arturo Alvarez: Another Chicago player who has left the club after two seasons is Arturo Alvarez. He has been traded to Houston Dynamo after featuring 25 times during the 2017 campaign. Alvarez netted three goals and provided a further two assists last season but struggled to be selected on a consistent basis having started just 13 games. Despite all that, he was a frequently used squad player who Chicago will be looking to replace with like-for-like experience given that he is about to begin his 15th MLS campaign.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. Columbus Crew
Venue: Toyota Park – Saturday April 8 – 14:00 ET (19:00 BST)
Match Odds: Chicago Fire 11/10 – Draw 12/5 – Columbus Crew 9/4

Match Preview

Chicago Fire host Columbus Crew SC on Saturday night as the two Eastern Conference rivals meet for the second time already this year following the clash at MAPFRE Stadium on opening weekend, which finished 1-1.

Chicago have yet to pick up the sort of form which some expected of them after they strengthened in the offseason. The additions of Dax McCarty and Juninho in midfield have been followed by the star signing of Bastian Schweinsteiger, all of whom should strengthen a Fire side that have been fragile too often over the past few seasons.

Having conceded seven goals so far in their four games, Chicago still have work to do defensively. However, much of this may come down to ill-discipline as the Fire have had a sending off in their last two matches. Sorting that out will instantly help their cause.

On the other hand, Columbus have won their last three on the bounce and have been impressive in doing so as they’ve scored seven times in those matches and have moved to the top of the East.

There upturn in form is particularly impressive given the fact they started the season with a disappointing home draw to Chicago before losing at Houston in Week 2.

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Justin Meram has been the Crew’s shining light in recent weeks, scoring three times in the past two games. The addition of Kekuta Manneh might have put his position in doubt, but he’s responded by turning up his form and Columbus need more of the same from him if they are to remain at the top of the conference.

Both sides look strong for different reasons and it should make for a good encounter. Chicago possess a great recent record at home, having only lost once in their last 15 at Toyota Park. Whereas, Columbus have won their last three, leaving us with what should be an open fixture.

Team News

Chicago Fire are without three midfielders for the visit of the Crew as Matt Polster (right knee strain), John Goossens (right ankle) and Drew Conner all miss out through injury. Juninho is suspended after picking up a red card in last week’s draw with Montreal.

Columbus Crew will definitely be without Gaston Sauro, as he is out for the season with a knee injury. Dilly Duka and Jonathan Mensah are both listed as questionable.

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s form: D/W/L/D

Columbus Crew’s form: D/L/W/W/W

Key Stat: Chicago have only lost once in their last fifteen home matches in MLS.

Key Player: David Accam – Ghanaian international, Accam can cause any MLS team problems with his pace. He already has a goal and an assist to his name this season and we expect those numbers to rise on Saturday night, particularly with Schweinsteiger’s vision now an extra weapon from midfield.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 2-2 Columbus Crew – With Columbus on a three-game winning streak and Chicago boasting solid home form, we expect the two to cancel each other out in a score draw, although goals are to be expected as both sides will look to attack.

MLS Preview and Prediction: Chicago Fire vs DC United

Competition: Major League Soccer – Chicago Fire vs. DC United

Venue: Toyota Park – Friday, September 16 – 20:00 ET (01:00 BST) 

Match Odds: Chicago 19/20 – Draw 12/5 – DC United 13/5

Match Preview

Chicago Fire welcome DC United to Toyota Park for a key Eastern Conference battle on Friday night, with the two sides still trying to make a late playoff surge with just a few weeks of the regular season left to play.

Chicago know they need to win this game if they are to have any chance of making the top six. They sit bottom of the East on 26 points, seven behind DC in seventh, but they do have a game in hand over Friday’s visitors.

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The Fire have not been able to build any sort of form at all this season. They come into Friday’s game off the back of a 2-1 home defeat to Toronto last time out and have now only won one of their last five home clashes.

However, DC’s away form doesn’t inspire much confidence for United supporters so this is set to be a cagey affair. Ben Olsen’s men have only won once away from home this season and that came back in May.

The Black-and-Red’s 2-2 draw at the Red Bulls last week should leave them in high spirits, with two goals in the final five minutes rescuing a point that looked well out of reach.

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They now need to start winning more regularly to seal a playoff berth. They will only have five games to play following the game in Chicago, all of which come against Eastern opponents.

This will the 55th meeting between Chicago and DC. They played out a 1-1 draw at Toyota Park back in April this season, before DC thumped the Fire 6-2 at RFK Stadium a few weeks ago.

Team News

Chicago Fire are the only MLS club without any injury concerns ahead of this weekend’s game – a remarkable position to be in at this stage of the season. Veljko Paunovic has a full squad to choose from as he tries to give his side some late-season playoff hopes.

DC United will be without Chris Korb, Collin Martin, Chris Rolfe, Alhaji Kamara, Charlie Horton, Jared Jeffrey, Sean Franklin and Kofi Opare, so Ben Olsen really has his options stretched ahead of the trip to the Windy City.

Key Points

Chicago Fire’s last five: W/D/L/W/L

DC United’s last five: D/D/W/L/D

Key Stat: Road struggles – DC United have only won one of their last 19 away games in MLS (D9 L9).

Key Player: David Accam – The Fire attacker is their most threatening player in the final third and can so often change a game in a flash. Chicago may need him to come up with some magic on Friday if they are to come away with three points.

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Score Prediction

Chicago Fire 1-1 DC United – There is so little to choose between these two sides that a draw looks inevitable on Friday night. It’s a result that will do little to help either side, but DC’s away form is a concern for them, while the Fire lack a cutting edge required to win important games such as this one.

MLS Fantasy Focus: Time to invest in Crew attackers for Week 7?

By Jamie Dawe and Sam Martin

Double delirium for the Rapids in Week 6, alongside a duo of poor performances for the Red Bulls made last week a complete reversal of form from the 2015 season. However, FC Dallas have stayed true to last season’s form and top the Supporters’ Shield rankings with 17 points from 8 games, six of which were gained in Week 6 with comfortable wins over SKC and the Timbers. A first goal for Seattle’s Jordan Morris ($8.1) could signal the start of things to come from this much-hyped youngster. Overall, Week 6 was a positive one, with plenty of things to build upon in the coming weeks of the campaign.

Week 6 Review

The Good:

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Only six minutes into his MLS return for Montreal, Didier Drogba’s ($11.5) cheeky back heel leveled the score up at 1-1, as Montreal went on to earn three huge points away to Chicago. Impact teammate Ignacio Piatti ($10.6) netted a stunning 90th-minute winner with a curled effort from the edge of the box in a game dominated by Montreal. Meanwhile, the Sounders’ revival continues as Seattle beat Philadelphia 2-1 with defender Chad Marshall ($8.6) heading home from a corner to score for the second consecutive week. While it may have been a disappointing defeat for New York City, World Cup winning forward ‘El Guaje’, David Villa ($11.3) netted a brace – his third and fourth goals of the season. An emphatic victory for LA Galaxy was was started and continued by a Giovani Dos Santos ($10.9) double, with the Galaxy running away as 4-1 winners in Houston. Portland’s Fanendo Adi ($10.2) also continued his fine form, netting his second brace of the campaign against San Jose. Michael Barrios ($8.1) netted in both of Dallas’ games, which leaves the Western Conference leaders on a six-game unbeaten run. On the theme of unbeaten runs, Real Salt Lake remain the only MLS side yet to lose a league match this season. Juan Manuel Martinez ($8.5) netted early in the second half to make it consecutive 1-0 victories. How long can this incredible run continue for RSL?

The Bad:

Seattle Sounders vs Philadelphia Union Red Card Alberg

Philadelphia midfielder Roland Alberg ($8.1) picked up two yellow cards within 53 minutes of his side’s 2-1 defeat to Seattle. Columbus Crew’s Tyson Wahl ($6.0) conceded a penalty that teammate Michael Parkhurst then saw red for in a case of mistaken identity in his side’s eventual win over NYCFC. Wahl has since been handed the suspension that Parkhurst was wrongly given. Portland’s Diego Valeri ($10.3) also saw red in the dying moments of Portland’s 3-1 triumph, picking up a 90th minute yellow and 95th minute red card. The Red Bulls made it six defeats from seven as the star club from the 2015 season are being let down by key attacking players such as Bradley Wright-Phillips ($10.5), Lloyd Sam ($8.9) and Mike Grella ($7.8), with the team having only netted five goals from their seven matches so far. A club with such high expectations will be expecting to push on sooner rather than later. Houston Dynamo dropped to the bottom of the Western Conference after being outclassed by LA Galaxy, despite taking the lead within the first minute. The Dynamo have only managed one win so far this campaign (admittedly it was a resounding 5-0 romp against Dallas, with this being Dallas’ only defeat). It summarises the thrilling unpredictability of the league!

Week 7 Preview

Must Buy:

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With Columbus finally returning to form in their victory over NYCFC, now’s the time to stock up on their star players. When Kei Kamara ($10.9), Ethan Finlay ($10.7) and Federico Higuain ($10.3) are firing on all cylinders, they are an unbeatable side. Looking ahead to upcoming DGW’s, adding some SKC players would certainly seem wise. Nuno Coelho ($8.3) is quickly building a name for himself in Kansas City, along with their only two other ever-present starters, goalkeeper Tim Melia ($5.7) and French fullback Amadou Dia ($6.0).

Must Sell:

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Chicago Fire only play once in the next three weeks, so budget-hogging players like David Accam ($9.2) and Kennedy Igboananike ($8.1) need to be discarded for now. Portland are relying incredibly heavily on Adi and the now suspended Valeri, and won’t play in Week 7. Even when they do return to action, it might be worth transferring out Lucas Melano ($8.7), who is extremely pricy for a player that’s yet to really shine. Injuries to Marco Pappa ($8.2), Matt Hedges ($9.0) and Alvas Powell ($7.1) mean these three players will be dead weight for at least the next two or three game weeks and replacements should be brought in.

Who will you be transferring in for Week 7?

2016 MLS Season Preview: Chicago Fire

As the 2016 MLS season edges closer, we’ll be publishing each team’s MLS 2016 Season Preview. Today we take a look at what Chicago Fire will be looking to achieve this year…

Chicago Fire had a season to forget last time out, finishing bottom of the Eastern Conference and ending up the lowest ranked side in MLS. They lost the most games out of every MLS side and had the worst goal difference. Fire fans have no choice but to accept a second-straight season of misery, move on and hope for the best in the upcoming campaign, but as both conferences continue to attract top players from across the globe, this could be yet another season of difficulty. Veljko Paunovic has lost some notable players and has lost more than those who have come in so far. The Fire need to make some signings and fast if they are to have a squad capable of improving on last seasons dismal performance. Paunovic is under pressure to turn things around in his first full season and that pressure is only going to mount unless new signings are brought in.

Last season’s finish:

Eastern Conference – Position: 10th – P34 – W8 – D6 – L20

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What needs to change this year?

Chicago’s main aim needs to be to concede less goals, as they shipped 58 last term – one of three sides to do so – but they didn’t have the capabilities to score the goals to make up for it at the other end. They have to shore up their defence so that when they do score, the goals are actually counting for something. Winning just eight games out of 34 isn’t good enough and it is tough to see how they are going to improve on that record with just over two weeks to go until the new season kicks off. They scored more goals than six other MLS sides, so there are positives to build upon, and a good start to the campaign would really give the club a boost.

Key changes to squad:

Ins: Patrick McLain – Goalkeeper, Brandon Vincent – Defender, Jonathan Campbell – Defender, Michael Harrington – Defender, Joao Meira – Defender, Johan Kappelhof – Defender, Rodrigo Ramos – Defender, Drew Conner – Midfielder, Jack Harrison – Midfielder and Nick LaBrocca – Midfielder

Outs: Jon Busch – Goalkeeper, Alec Kana – Goalkeeper, Adailton – Defender, Jeff Larentowicz – Defender, Lovel Palmer – Defender, Daneil Cyrus – Defender, Ty Harden – Defender, Joevin Jones – Defender, Chris Ritter – Midfielder, Matt Watson – Midfielder, Patrick Nyarko – Midfielder, Jack Harrison – Midfielder, Harry Shipp – Midfielder and Jason Johnson – Forward

Key Player:

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David Accam – The Fire forward has the pace to punish opposition defences across MLS. This is a big campaign coming for him and as Chicago’s top scorer with ten goals last term, he will be hoping to improve on that and prove his worth as a Designated Player.

One to Watch:

Brandon Vincent – The young American left-back was drafted with the fourth overall pick of the 2016 MLS SuperDraft and will be expected to come straight in and deliver for Chicago. He made his USMNT debut against Canada at the start of February and big things are expected of the 21-year-old defender out of Stanford. Joevin Jones has moved on and that left-back spot now looks like Vincent’s to own.

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Predicted Finish:

Eastern Conference – 10th – It may make for bleak reading for Fire fans but with the current squad it is hard to see any improvement on last season’s performance. Chicago have lost far more players than they have signed and they could struggle from the outset. They lost seven of their last eight games of the 2015 campaign and things will be tough if they don’t get off to a good start. They do, however, have five home games in their first seven MLS fixtures and need to make the most of that.

What are you expecting from Chicago Fire in 2016?

MLS Preview and Prediction: New York City FC vs Chicago Fire

Competition: Major League Soccer – New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire

Venue: Yankee Stadium – Friday, May 15th – 19:00 ET (00:00 BST – Saturday, May 16th)

Match Odds: New York City FC 13/10 – Draw 12/5 – Chicago Fire 2/1

Match Preview

New York City FC welcome Chicago Fire to the Yankee Stadium on Friday night in an all Eastern Conference MLS clash.

New York City’s tough start to life in MLS showed no signs of letting up at the Red Bull Arena on Monday as they lost 2-1 to the Red Bulls in the first ever New York derby.

That defeat was their fourth consecutive loss and they are now without a win in eight (D2, L6) – they’ve won just once from their opening ten games.

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Jason Kreis has seen his side score just seven times this season which is one of the main reasons that NYC find themselves 8th in the Eastern Conference and beginning to lose pace in the race for the playoffs already – only Montreal Impact have scored fewer goals (3), although they have only played five games compared to NYC’s 10.

Chicago Fire arrive in New York after a run of three straight wins has been halted by a defeat to Sporting Kansas City followed by a 2-1 loss at home to Real Salt Lake last time out.

The Fire have nine points from their first eight games and are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference but have lost all of their games on the road so far this season.

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Frank Yallop will be telling his players that this is one of the few away games this season that he will demand a positive result given the poor form of their opponents, and Chicago will hope to capitalise on New York City’s lack of confidence.

The two sides met just three weeks ago in a game that saw Chicago Fire run out as 1-0 winners at Toyota Park thanks to a goal from David Accam.

Team News

New York City will be without long term absentees George John and Tony Taylor, while Javier Calle and Adam Nemec are both doubts after missing the New York derby on Monday because of injury.

Chicago Fire’s Mike Magee and Patrick Nyarko both remain out, while Matt Watson has concussion so could miss the game.

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Key Points

New York City FC’s last five: D/L/L/L/L

Chicago Fire’s last five: W/W/W/L/L

Key Stat: These two sides are the lowest scoring teams in MLS, other than Montreal Impact, with just seven goals each.

Key Player: Harry Shipp – The Chicago midfielder has been one of their most impressive players so far this season with one goal and three assists to his name. He will be hoping to shine once again.

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Score Prediction

New York City FC 1-1 Chicago Fire – This has all the makings of a very tight and tense game. With both sides struggling for goals this season, combining the fact that Chicago have lost all their away games and New York City aren’t picking up many points, this will probably end all square.

Chicago Fire add another DP in Ghanaian striker David Accam

Chicago Fire have made another big step to improving their squad by signing Ghanaian striker David Accam and the 24-year-old will occupy a Designated Player slot.

Accam joins from Swedish side Helsingborg, where he scored 30 goals in 62 appearances – an impressive strike rate of 0.48 per game.

He is the second African DP striker that the Fire have added this offseason and the club will hope to see Accam form a solid partnership with Kennedy Igboananike in 2015.

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“David is an exciting, creative player with a goal-scoring mentality,” Fire head coach Frank Yallop said. “I’m pleased that David will be joining the Fire. He’s a key piece as we continue to build a deep squad in preparation for the 2015 season and we’re looking forward to having him on our team.”

Accam, who made it through Ghana’s Right to Dream Academy, has improved as a player with every season and was called up to the Ghana National team for a World Cup qualifier against Sudan earlier this year.

The Fire reportedly paid around £2.5 million for his services and he will hope to make an immediate impact when the new season gets underway in March.

“I’m really excited to be a part of MLS and the Chicago Fire,” he said.

“The commitment that the Fire showed me was the main reason I chose Chicago over other offers that I had. I would also like to thank the coach Frank Yallop and the owner Andrew Hauptman for believing in me and giving me the opportunity to play for the Fire. I cannot wait to repay their faith.

“I know that Chicago is going to be a great home for me, and I’m looking forward to giving everything I have to become part of the Fire family, with my teammates, the club staff and of course, the fans, especially Section 8,” Accam added.

David Accam highlights via CSKA4everVIDEOtv on YouTube:

Will David Accam be a star for the Fire? Is he a good signing?