Chicago Fire assistant coach Clint Mathis had a number of classy goals during his playing career. While he'll tell you his most memorable was the one he scored vs. South Korea at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, the goal of his that will forever stick in my mind is this one he scored four games into his stay with Hannover 96 in 2004.
Towards the end of training today, Clint drafted Head Coach Frank Yallop, Goalkeeping Coach Aron Hyde and Sean Johnson into service to cross him balls for this clinic. While he didn't hit the target on every attempt, we have to give it up to Fire Equipment Manager Allan Araujo for helping Clint with one trick shot...
We've seen Fire legend Hristo Stoitchkov around Chicago a couple times the past two seasons so we may have a better idea than most on with what he's been up to.
Still, this "Whatever Happened To..." feature from MLSsoccer.com's Simon Borg has a fantastic number of quotes from the former European Player of the Year regarding his time in Chicago, controversey surrounding his career and his decision to retire.
Our favorite: "I put Chicago on the same level as Barcelona, the Bulgarian national team and CSKA Sofia. The same level. I came here at 32, 33 years old, but I enjoyed it like I was an 18-year-old."
Read the full feature here.
Heading to Arizona to catch the Fire play FC Tucson this weekend? Following the match (set for 1:00pm Mountain Time), the club is hosting a Happy Hour for Fire supporters in the hotel bar at the Desert Diamond Casino (7350 S. Nogales Hwy; Tucson) from 5:30-7:30pm MT.
All Fire fans in and around Tucson are welcome to attend!
As someone that's taken in Section 8 Chicago trips to Montreal, Toronto, Kansas City, Columbus, Philadelphia, New York and in a month, Portland, I've come to appreciate the character and drive that is inherent in a traveling supporter's blood as they lend their voice to help the Fire on the road.
And while it's amazing to see so many take air trips, bus rides or insanely long travels in a stuffy van for a regular season match, I've also come to appreciate some of the faces I see every year in preseason.
For "The West Wing" aficionados out there, it reminds me of Bradley Whitford's character Josh Lyman trying to get to Port St. Lucie, Fla., for a New York Mets intrasquad game during Season 2's "Stackhouse Filibuster" just so catcher Mike Piazza could say, "Dude" to him.
At this point, if you're not understanding the Sorkinese I'm throwing at you, please meet Ray Cook, the Chicago Fire's very own version of Josh Lyman (more in the sports fan sense).
Ray traveled to Tucson via Amtrak from Chicago and even beat the team here (arriving Friday). I've seen Ray each of the last four preseasons (usually in Charleston, S.C.) but as he says, his tradition of making it out prior to the start of every campaign dates back to 2000 and has taken him to such places as Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Jackson, Miss., New Orleans and Guadalajara, Mexico.
This is why he does it...
You'd have to say with all the snow in Chicago last night (and this winter), he's looking pretty smart.
Select shots from Sunday morning's training session in Tucson, Arizona:
Select shots from the Fire's 1-0 victory over D.C. United
Mike Magee has racked up the accolades the last year. MLS MVP, Best XI, Team MVP and surely a few other awards were garnered during his stunning 2013 campaign. The last honor he received before heading into the 2014 season was Fire Player of the Year at Monday night's 26th annual Comcast SportsNet Awards, benefiting the March of Dimes.
Magee was honored alongside the Bears Martellus Bennett, the Blackhawks Patrick Sharp, the Bulls Nazr Mohammed, the Cubs Welington Castillo, White Sox Nate Jones. Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita also earned the night's Lifetime Achievement Award.
Mike jokingly thanked the children's charity for helping him get out of "preseason boot camp in Florida" but also for the great work they do with kids saying, "any charity dedicated to children is brilliant".
He also made special mention of Naperville native and Paralympic athlete Alyssa Gialamas who earned the night's "Inspirational Athlete Award". Of her he said, "she's definitely the best athlete in the room."
Watch Mike's full acceptance speech, courtesy of CSNChicago.com, below:
Miss Saturday night's 2-0 win over D.C. United?
Catch the highlights below:
Select shots from the Fire's 2-0 win over D.C.