Fire to play in Carolina Challenge Cup

[MLS 2013] After a season in which it broke a two-year postseason drought, Chicago has announced plans to play in the Carolina Challenge Cup for the third consecutive year.

The Fire will join host Charleston Battery of United Soccer Leagues and two MLS clubs yet to be named for matches Feb. 16-23 at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C. Players will report to Toyota Park Jan. 18 for the start of preseason training.

Chicago will play three matches in the 10th renewal of the Carolina Challenge Cup. Last February, the Fire lost to D.C. United, 1-0, and beat Columbus by the same score. Severe thunderstorms forced the cancellation of its third match against the Battery, which went on to win the 2012 USL Pro championship.

After missing the playoffs in 2010 and 2011, the Fire got back into the postseason by finishing fourth despite the midseason transfers of Marco Pappa and Sebastian Grazzini. Its 57 points compiled from a 17-11-6 record tied for the highest point total in team history. Chicago hosted the wild-card game against fifth-place Houston, which eliminated the Fire by winning, 2-1.

It has retained one of the important cogs by re-signing German defender Arne Freidrich for the 2013 season. The team will hold its final 2012 training session on Thursday.

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