News off the field overshadows bad Chicago Fire loss
The news the Chicago Fire made off the field Wednesday afternoon overshadowed the game it played Wednesday night.
Considering how poorly the Fire played, that was a good thing.
The Fire (6-9-6, 23 points) suffered an embarrassing 4-3 loss at a lifeless Toyota Park to a Philadelphia Union team that entered the game having scored only 4 goals in eight road matches. Philadelphia moved to 3-16-7 on the road in the last season and a half. Philadelphia passed the Fire in the standings, with the Fire falling to eighth place in the Eastern Conference.
"No team in the world, no team in the world, if we were in the Spanish league or somewhere else, teams that concede so many goals, they get relegated," Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said.
Before the game, the Fire announced that owner Andrew Hauptman has sold a 49 percent stake in the club to Chicago billionaire Joe Mansueto, the founder and chairman of mutual fund rating company Morningstar. Hauptman retains a controlling 51 percent of the club and will remain club chairman, while Mansueto becomes vice chairman.
Mansueto brings a reputation for top-notch business acumen to the club, which has struggled on and off the field under Hauptman, who bought the club in 2007. The Fire hasn't won a playoff game since 2009.
Meanwhile, the Fire's supporter groups continued to boycott games after the Fire last month revoked tickets for an entire section of supporters for violations of the club and league code of conduct. Section 101 remained empty Wednesday with the exception of a few security guards.
The club also announced Wednesday it had completed a transfer for midfielder Aleksandar Katai. Katai has been on loan to the Fire this season from Spanish side Deportivo Alaves. He has been one of the Fire's best players this season, if not the most valuable, with 9 goals and 3 assists.
"It's very good for me, it's very nice," Katai said of the transfer to the Fire. "I'm so happy because we finished with that. So we're just going to keep going, not like today. I think we play, but the result, it was bad."
Katai, 27, is under Fire control through the 2019 season with a club option for 2020.
Katai proved his value in the game, earning a first-half penalty kick to draw the Fire even at 1-1, then tucking a shot just inside the far post in the 69th minute to even the score again.
After Bastian Schweinsteiger scored in second-half extra time to tie the game at 3-3, former Fire midfielder/forward David Accam scored his first goal since his off-season trade to Philadelphia, giving the Union the victory.