Chicago Fire and Red Stars notes and analysis

  • Written by Jeff Vorva


Photo by Jeff Vorva

Sean Johnson said he is frustrated with not playing.




WHEN: 6:30 pm. Saturday

WHERE: Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts

FIRE RECORD: 1-2-4 (before Wednesday night’s game vs. Vancouver)


LAST TIME: The Fire beat New England, 3-1, Oct. 1, at Toyota Park. David Accam, Harry Shipp and Gilberto had goals for the Fire.


WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

WHERE: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey

FIRE RECORD: 1-2-4 (before Wednesday night’s game vs. Vancouver).

RED BULLS RECORD: 3-6-1 (as of Sunday)

LAST TIME: The Red Bulls won 2-1 at Toyota Park Oct. 25 as Gilberto notched the lone goal for the Fire in its final game of the season.  

Johnson getting frustrated with bench time

Chicago Fire backup goalie Sean Johnson, the longest tenured player on the team, said his situation is “frustrating.”

Johnson, who was bumped late in the preseason for Matt Lampson and has not seen a minute of action in the Fire’s first seven matches, told the Daily Herald after last Thursday’s practice that he wants in on the action.

"It's frustrating," Johnson told the paper. "I want to play. I want to be on the field. I've worked extremely hard this year and for my career. … It's a frustrating thing not to be a part of the 18 when I was healthy."

Johnson, who has been with Chicago since 2010, missed four matches with a wrist injury and it appeared he would be available for an April 30 battle with D.C. United, but he wasn’t listed among the eligible players while the other backup goalie, Patrick McLain was on the eligible list.

Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said everyone on the team will have a chance to compete for a starting. But after seven matches, Lampson had three shutouts and is sixth in Major League Soccer with 32 saves.

"I really haven't had much discussion about my situation, to be honest," Johnson said. "That's also (Paunovic's) right as a coach, to have or not have those discussions. At the end of the day, he's the one in charge and he makes the decisions. Communication, speaking of transparency and communication, that's his decision whether or not he carries out those things as a coach. I respect his decisions, but ultimately as a player, I think at this point in my career I need to play.

"I've tried extremely hard to keep myself at a certain standard and do as much as possible to keep myself ready. ... I can control how I come in, how I work and how I carry myself on a day-to-day basis, so that's what I'll continue to do and continue to be a good professional."

There was speculation at the beginning of the season that the Fire was trying to ship Johnson off to another team but nothing has transpired.

Thiam in the fold

The Fire acquired midfielder Khaly Thiam on loan from MTK Budapest FC last Thursday through the end of 2016.

He wasn’t able to play Wednesday night against Vancouver because of a visa issue but should be available Saturday at New England.

"Khaly has a wide skill set that we believe will prove complementary to our current group," said Fire general manager Nelson Rodríguez. "He is good in possession, an effective ball winner and gets forward quite well. Importantly, he has a deep desire to triumph."

Thiam joins the Fire from Hungarian first division side MTK Budapest FC, who he has represented since July, 2014. In two years, Thiam appeared in 47 matches, scoring four goals and adding three assists. Thiam additionally appeared in a pair of UEFA Europa League qualifying matches against Serbian SuperLiga side FK Vojvodina in 2015.

Pause takes on more work

Logan Pause has been named head coach of the Chicago Fire PDL team. In addition to his first team duties as assistant coach, Pause will lead the Fire's Under-23 team through the 14-game PDL regular season. Fire PDL alum and current Academy coach Charlie Trout will serve as the assistant coach. 

"We feel that the selection of Logan as our PDL head coach works on a lot of levels," said Rodriguez. "First, it is an expression of our commitment to Logan and our belief in him as a coach and his future as a coach. Secondly, we think it demonstrates a complete integration of our soccer operations and the importance we place on linking our academy to our PDL team and to our first team. With Charlie Trout as Logan's assistant, it is a perfect integration of our Academy, PDL and first teams." 


Midfielders David Accam and John Goossens were not available against Vancouver but Accam could make his first appearance since the second game of the year on Saturday. He had two goals in two games before a left knee injury.



WHEN: 8:30 p.m., Friday

WHERE: Swope Soccer Village, Kansas City



LAST TIME: Kansas City won 3-0 in the National Women’s Soccer League semifinals Sept. 13 in Bridgeview. Amy Rodriguez had two goals.

Red Stars need another scorer to step up

It’s great that Christen Press scored another goal Saturday in the Chicago Red Stars’ 1-0 win over winless Boston.

It’s great that she has three goals in four games.

It’s great that the Red Stars are 3-1-0.

What’s not so great, however, is that the star forward has been the only offensive force for the team.

The Red Stars have just four goals this year and aside from her three, the only other player to put a ball past a goalie is defender Casey Short.

Since a 3-1 loss at Houston to start the season, the Red Stars’ defense and goalie Alyssa Naeher have been perfect. It’s been 306 minutes since Chicago has given up a goal.

The outstanding defense and Press has had the most to do with this three-match win streak but coach Rory Dames needs a couple of his other troops to step up and bring in some offensive noise.

Press leads with 15 shots including 12 on goal. Sofia Huerta has 10 shots but just three on goal. No one else has more than four shots total.

So far, the Red Stars have gotten away with it. But once they start playing teams that can break through that strong defense, wins will be harder to come by if someone else doesn’t step up.

Last game for Buczkowski

The Red Stars visit the FC Kansas City Blues on Friday and will be a part of the end of an era.

KC midfielder Jen Buczkowski will retire after the game after being the only player in National Women’s Soccer League history to play every regular season game.

She played every minute in the 2011 and 2013 seasons and played 6,100 out of a possible 6,210 minutes the past two seasons.

Buczkowski, 31, said she wants to attend physical therapy school at the University of Kansas Medical Center.

“It will be difficult to transition from playing soccer every day to being in the classroom, but I am excited to start that next journey,” she said on the FC Kansas City website.

She attended Elk Grove High School and the University of Notre Dame.

Blue start for champs

KC is the two-time defending NWSL champion but is looking for its first win this season.

The Blues are coming off a 2-1 loss to Houston – the only team to beat the Red Stars.