Blog

jeff crandall

28 May 9:11 am
Ever since the possibility of the Fire taking on the Bucks came into play about two weeks ago, my mouth has sort of been watering for Tuesday night’s match-up.
 
For those that haven’t heard my story before, it was with the Bucks that I got my first gig in soccer as an intern in 2007. Standing as the highest level of outdoor soccer in the Detroit area, the Bucks actually made their name early on as the Mid-Michigan Bucks, playing mostly out of White Pine Stadium in Saginaw from 1996-2003. 
 
While they’re a Premier Development League side (fourth division), it would be a mistake to take them lightly. Along with qualifying for the playoffs and looking to earn a North American championship (as they did in 2006), the Bucks, much like the Fire, put a high priority on the tournament. The 2012 season marks the ninth time in their 17-year history that the team has taken part in the competition.

 
In all, the team has hosted three of its six matches against MLS teams in the state of Michigan. But perhaps the game they’re known best for, was their 1-0 defeat of the New England Revolution on June 27, 2000 at Foxboro Stadium. The first time a PDL team would defeat an MLS side in the Open Cup, the  fourth division team came just short of the quarterfinals that year after a 10-man Bucks side would draw 3-3 at the Miami Fusion before falling 6-5 in the shootout.
 
“Obviously we’re very excited about Tuesday,” said Michigan Bucks chairman Dan Duggan. “We’re disappointed that we haven’t been able to bring an MLS team here for the tournament the last six years but we’ve worked hard and this year things came together. To have the Chicago Fire come into Detroit is absolutely a great matchup that the fans will enjoy. Detroit and Chicago are two of the greatest sports towns in America and it has the makings of something special again here Tuesday night.”
 
While the Fire first team has never played the Bucks, the Pontiac-based side has long held a rivalry with the club’s PDL team since they first entered the league in 2001. Current Fire assistant coach Mike Matkovich was the head coach of the PDL side that often thwarted the Bucks in the early part of the last decade, though the series has certainly evened out more recently.
 
Along with that connection, the Fire currently have two players on its roster that can count themselves amongst the Bucks alumni playing in Major League Soccer. Fire forward Kheli Dube tallied 25 goals in 41 appearances for the team from 2005-2007, while helping the Bucks to the 2006 North American title and back to the championship match the following season. In recognition for his on-field performance and the character he showed during his three seasons in Detroit, Dube was inducted into the Bucks Hall of Fame last year.
 
“He helped us out a lot, he’s a terrific young man,” Duggan said of Dube. “If you’re taking a prototype for what an MLS player should strive to be, he would be my guy -- just a consummate professional in every way.” 
 
While a member of the Fire PDL team in 2010, converted defender Tony Walls spent the surrounding summers of 2009 and 2011 in Detroit, helping the team to the Great Lakes Division crown last season.
 
“Tony I think is one of the best athletes I’ve ever seen,” he continued. “We expected he would get drafted and play in MLS because of his athletic ability and he’s obviously a great soccer player. We’re very proud of both Kheli and Tony’s success.”
 
While the game is the Fire’s first ever in the Great Lakes state, it will also hold the distinction of being the team’s first-ever indoor game. How fitting that the venue, Ultimate Soccer Arenas stands just a mile south of the Pontiac Silverdome, the site of the first-ever indoor World Cup game. A much more intimate venue, Ultimate Soccer’s permanent seating can hold 1,600 people and with an expected sellout, temporary bleachers are being added for Tuesday’s match. 
 
26 May 2:00 pm

The MatchBook Zine is an incredible publication that Section 8 Chicago puts out on most home games. Given the masses that are descending on Columbus, a special edition has been written for today's match.

Make sure to find one at the tailgate and do the crossword on the back before heading inside!

26 May 12:36 pm

A token of our appreciation to the traveling support heading to Columbus today...

 

This isn't the exact keg, but it does the trick. Thanks for your support!

 

 

26 May 10:40 am

If you're following me on Twitter, you might have seen a mention of a Siberian Tiger on the bus to Columbus.

No worries, it isn't a live Siberian Tiger. It's a stuffed creature and this isn't his first Section 8 Chicago road trip. You see, he's sort of become a mascot, for the ISA. 

Meet Phillip...

Since we still have a ways to go, I caught up with Phillip to gather his interesting story...

Jeff Crandall: Phillip, how did you come to join up with Section 8 Chicago?

Philip the Tiger: It's actually quite a long story. I'm not from this country but found my way to Chicago sometime last year. Everything is sort of a blur but if I'm being honest, I was deported from the UK. 

JC: What caused the deportation?

PtP: Well, some folks played a funny prank in England. Basically I was set up as a potsie to fuel a prank on the good people of Southampton. I'm a Siberian Tiger but I do have my limitations.

JC: What are those?

PtP: Well, I'm not able to move on my own free-will.

JC: Right, so what happened?

PtP: It was a long night... Who can really remember? Those guys "Ted" and "Matthew", who I counted as my friends, left me in a grassy field in Southampton. The next thing I knew, police helicopters were flying overhead.

JC (Diane Sawyer voice): Yes, Phillip, I believe you're talking about this video...

PtP: It hurts to watch it again. 

JC: So you were deported and you ended up in Chicago of all places?

PtP: Yes.

JC: What happened next?

PtP: Some folks on the northside took me in. Soon they introduced me to Section 8 Chicago. I've been to many a Fire home game and am currently talking to you on my second road trip.  

JC: Phillip, you truly have a heroic story. Thank you for joining us on the road to Columbus...One last thing, could you give us a song?

PtP: Roar.

Follow Phillip on Twitter @SnakePitPhillip.

26 May 8:42 am

Captain's log 8:40 AM. 

That is sort of false advertising. I'm not a bus captain on this trip. Though if I was we would have left on time... 

Here I sit at the Globe Pub just minutes away from taking off to Ohio as part of #FHEAST. I've positioned myself one row from the back of the bus, giving me easy access to the restroom but also a view of what's ahead of me. It may be well before noon, but the soda pop is steadily flowing and everyone's in great spirits even though we're heading to Ohio. 

For those unable to make the trip, I feel this photo captures the thoughts of those on the bus as well as showcasing the pretty awesome scarf all riders are receiving on the way to the Buckeye State...

As I've written this we're off! Columbus, we're coming to do you wrong...

26 May 5:50 am

It's not very often I get to be a fan. While working for a soccer team is the ultimate fan boy's dream, its also a lot of well, work. Those that have watched a Fire away match with me will all tell you the same thing -- either my laptop is a security blanket or I really am glued to it. And that's fine, its what I signed up for. 

This year I've been able to leave my work machine behind so I could stand and sing with Section 8 Chicago against nearly 60,000 in Montreal in March and on the blowing front of Lake Ontario in Toronto last month.

Some might think my choice of away trips means I just enjoy traveling to Canada. Those folks would be wrong...

For today I'll be among the 600+ on the ride to Columbus. I haven't left my laptop behind though. Instead, stay tuned to "Always on the Inside" as I live blog throughout the trip to and from Columbus. 

Wish me luck as I join Section 8 Chicago's Whiskey Brother's Aught Five Gentleman's Guild, among others, on the seven-hour trek this morning.

 

24 May 12:03 pm

Second in the series of "Always on the Inside" promos... This time I dip in the cold tub with Dan Gargan. 

For those wondering, it was a shivering 46 degrees and as Dan suggests, I couldn't nail my lines... We shifted to having the old pro speak and me just give the high-brow that I'm so well known for...

Can't wait for the bonus features DVD to come out! Make sure to follow Dan on Twitter @RealDanGargan!

24 May 11:56 am

Our first tease of this very blog! Thanks to Kheli Dube, Tony Walls, Kwame Watson-Siriboe and Sean Johnson for standing in defense with me... Thanks to Daniel Paladini for not hitting me in the head.

Sorry that I flinched (and then laughed)...