Pause takes reins as Fire captain

Though it comes as little surprise, the Chicago Fire announced Saturday through their Facebook account that defensive midfielder Logan Pause will be the team's captain for 2011.

The retirements of 13-year veteran defender C.J. Brown and Arlington Heights native Brian McBride made Pause an obvious choice for the captain's armband. Pause has been with the Fire since their 2003 season.

"He's a player that has earned this position based on his performance, commitment and level of professionalism," Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos said in a statement. "I am convinced Logan sets an example that every player should follow."

Last season, Pause started in 26 games and tallied a goal and three assists in 2,258 minutes.

East welcomes Houston: The Fire and the other returning teams of Major League Soccer's Eastern Conference welcome a new squad to the fray -- the Houston Dynamo.

On Friday, the league announced its conference alignment. Houston had been in the West, but with two expansion sides joining in 2011 -- the Vancouver Whitecaps and Portland Timbers -- the league moved the eastern-most team from the Western Conference.

The conferences consist of nine teams each, and every team plays a home and away game against each opponent, making up a 34-game regular season.

The East contains the Fire, Columbus Crew, D.C. United, Houston, Sporting Kansas City, New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC. The West includes Chivas USA, Colorado Rapids, FC Dallas, Los Angeles Galaxy, Portland, Real Salt Lake, San Jose Earthquakes, Seattle Sounders FC and Vancouver.