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MLS Regular Season

31 January 8:00 am

New Fire assistant coach Clint Mathis scored a few goals in his career, many of which were stunning.

There was this darting run in 2001 vs. Dallas that wound up winning MLS Goal of the Year. 

There was also this one-time volley from 2004 while playing for Hannover 96 in Germany.

But if you got this far into this blog post and didn't already know what the favorite goal of Clint's career was, you haven't been a U.S. Soccer fan long enough. Of course you know what it is:

Daegu, South Korea.

June 10, 2002.

John O'Brien.

24th minute.

Deft touch with his right.

Beautiful finish with his left.

Jack Edwards: "That's why he's here!"

When I asked him this question which was very easily answered, Clint, with his Southern Charm, responded like he'd never been asked before saying, "The goal in 2002. That’s one that my kids can tell their grandkids and it’s one of those situations where I have some goals I remember playing in the league but it’s different when you score in MLS vs. the World Cup.

"I think the significance behind that goal – it ended up being the one goal we needed to get out of the group because of the other results that happened on the final day to put us through – you just can’t rate anything higher than that. You can't forget it."

Ahhh, just watch it again:

24 January 9:22 am

Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause returns for a twelfth season with the Men in Red in 2014

A third round pick in the 2003 MLS SuperDraft, Chicago Fire midfielder Logan Pause had already capped off a decade with the Men in Red last year before extending his deal to come back for a 12th season with the club in 2014 on Friday.

Logan's longevity got me thinking about players that held the longest consecutive tenures in terms of both years and games played ith one MLS club. After some research, I found that Fire legend and new assistant coach C.J. Brown holds the record for consecutive seasons with one team at 13, while Logan will tie Cobi Jones (LA Galaxy) and Pablo Mastroeni (Colorado Rapids) when he makes his first appearance for the Fire in 2014. 

A look at the Top 10 players with the most consecutive seasons at one MLS club...

Rank Player Club Years Consecutive Seasons Games Played
1 C.J. Brown Chicago Fire 1998-2010 13 296
2 Cobi Jones LA Galaxy 1996-2007 12 306
3 Pablo Mastroeni Colorado Rapids 2002-2013 12 216
4 Logan Pause Chicago Fire 2003-present 11* 274
5 Shalrie Joseph New England Revolution 2003-2012 10 261
6 Davy Arnaud Sporting KC 2002-2011 10 218
7 Jason Kreis Dallas Burn 1996-2004 9 247
8 Kerry Zavagnin Kansas City Wizards 2000-2008 9 237
9 Landon Donovan LA Galaxy 2005-present 9* 216
10 Jay Heaps New England Revolution 2001-2009 8 228

*-denotes active MLS player

You may be wondering where are Jaime Moreno and Ramiro Corrales? Good question. Moreno holds the MLS record for most seasons with one club, spending 14 years with D.C. United but he did have one stint with the MetroStars that broke up his two long stints in the nation's capital.

In Corrales' case, while he never played for another MLS club other than San Jose after being traded back to the Quakes in 2001, he did spend a few years abroad in Norway with HamKam that keep him out of the consecutive seasons count. Corrales spent a total of 12 seasons in San Jose over three stints (1996-97, 2001-04, 2008-13)

Just for fun, a look at the record number for consecutive appearances for MLS club is below too:

Rank Player Club Years Consecutive Games Played  Seasons
1 Cobi Jones LA Galaxy 1996-2007 306 12
2 C.J. Brown Chicago Fire 1998-2010 296 13
3 Logan Pause Chicago Fire 2003-present 274* 11
4 Shalrie Joseph New England Revolution 2003-2012 261 10
5 Jason Kreis Dallas Burn 1996-2004 247 9
6 Kerry Zavagnin Kansas City Wizards 2000-2008 237 9
7 Jay Heaps New England Revolution 2001-2009 228 8
8 Ramiro Corrales San Jose Earthquakes

2001-2004;
2008-2013

225 10
9 Nick Garcia Kansas City Wizards 2000-2007 224 8
10 Davy Arnaud Sporting KC 2002-2011 218 10

*-denotes active MLS player

19 December 9:07 am

Working hard or hardly working as you countdown the minutes till Holiday Break?

If you're doing either, set aside seven spare minutes to watch all 58 goals scored by the Fire in 2013...

WATCH: 2013 Chicago Fire Goals

03 December 11:27 am

Mike Magee became the first Chicago Fire player since Wilman Conde in 2009 to grab an MLS Best XI selection on Tuesday. The Chicago native joined an exclusive club of 14 players that have earned the honor while with the Men in Red, adding up to 22 total selections (third highest in MLS) since 1998.

For the record, former Fire captain Chris Armas has the most Best XI selections with the club, earning five (1998-2001, 2003) during his 10-year career with the Men in Red.

See below the club's previous MLS Best XI selections:

26 November 10:10 am

Just eight days away from Major League Soccer's MVP announcement and Mike Magee has picked up another endorsement, this time coming from SBNation.com's merry band of soccer editors. SBNation.com is of course the parent organization of Chicago Fire-related blog, "Hot Time in Old Town".

Magee garnered 14 of the 25 available votes, doubling up on next closest candidate Robbie Keane.

The nod from SBNation.com is the latest in a series of endorsements featuring Landon Donovan (sort of), The Washington Post's Steven Goff and Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney. Let us not forget, Magee also collected Section 8 Chicago's 2013 Supporters Player of the Year Award on Saturday as well.

Joel Biden awards Mike Magee 2013 Section 8 Chicago Supporters Player of the Year award

The MLS Best XI (which Magee is expected to be on) is set to be announced next Tuesday, December 3 while the MVP award will be doled out Thursday, December 5.

Magee would be the first player in the club's 16-year playing history to garner the league's highest individual honor. 

Until then, watch the #MikeMageeMVP video one more time...

25 November 2:04 pm

One of my favorite days of the year is the day the MLS schedule is released.

For many fans, this announcement means compiling a list of blackout days where the Fire are playing at Toyota Park. For Fire fans not residing in the Chicagoland area, it means finding out when the Men in Red will be visiting your nearest MLS team. But for someone like me who has been on quite a few road trips (over 50 but not as many as this guy), the schedule release day means not only looking at the home fixtures but also the away ones.

Questions I asked myself earlier today: Does Toronto away fall on weekend instead of a Wednesday night? How much does it cost to fly to Portland in March? These important questions get answered on this special day.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at five exciting dates in the 2014 Fire calendar:

Week 2 – Portland away – Saturday, March 15 

Ever since Portland came into the league in 2011, the Fire supporters umbrella, Section 8 Chicago, has had a very good relationship with the Timbers Army, Portland’s main supporters group. The relationship is based on mutual respect and a shared “dislike” of all things Seattle.

Fire fans are always treated well in Portland and it’s not uncommon for Fire and Timbers fans to hang out before and after the games, something you would never see Fire fans doing in Columbus or Kansas City.

The atmosphere at JELD-Wen Field is also second to none. Though is certainly isn’t going to be the easiest away trip on the field or the lightest on the wallet, I think we will see quite a few Fire fans making the trip to Portland in Week 2 instead of traveling to LA to watch the Fire face Chivas in the season opener.

Week 6 & 22 – Montreal away – Saturday, April 12 and Sunday, August 16

The Fire were the Montreal Impact’s opponents in the Canadian club’s first home MLS back in 2012 and I was lucky enough to be at the game and had a great time.

That game was played indoors at the Olympic Stadium with a less than favorable playing surface – something many of the Fire fans observed firsthand the day before the game when we were invited to watch the team train (see photo above).

Now the Impact have Saputo Stadium refurbished, which provides another incentive for traveling Fire fans who may not have gotten there earlier this year.

Montreal is also a unique MLS city for a number of reasons. I can’t think of another MLS city where fans can brush up on their French by talking to the locals or take in the spectacular Notre-Dame basilica while eating some amazing poutine!

Montreal can be quite cold in April, but luckily for Fire fans, the April date is only the first time the Men in Red visit The City of Saints. I hear the weather is a lot nicer in mid-August, when the Fire visit for the second time.

Week 11 – Columbus away – Saturday, May 24

Columbus or Fire House East as many Fire fans call it is the closest away trip of the season distance wise. Due to this fact, the number of Fire fans attending this match is exponentially bigger than most other away games.

In 2001, Fire fans went to Crew Stadium in their hundreds, even when the Fire was not playing! The Fire had been knocked out in the Conference Semifinals by the Los Angeles Galaxy and many fans turned up to cheer against LA (and for the then Frank Yallop-led San Jose Earthquakes) at MLS Cup.

There have been many highs experienced in Columbus, such as Paulo Wanchope’s winning goal in a 2007 match after the game was delayed due to a torrential downpour. Fire fans were also 45 minutes away from MLS Cup in 2008 but for a Crew comeback in the second half which left Fire fans, including myself, devastated. There’s also the 2012 invasion which saw 600 Fire supporters make the trek.

The Fire only play once at Fire House East this season and I expect to see a lot of red behind the goal on May 24.

Week 16 & 32 Kansas City away –Sunday, July 6 &  Friday, October 10

Kansas City is another road trip that fans have attended in large numbers throughout the years. My first trip to Kansas City was a disappointing one, with the Fire losing to the Kansas City Wizards in the final of the U.S. Open Cup in 2004.

Since then, the Kansas franchise has a new name and a soccer specific stadium. You can no longer play the count the crowd game that we often did when the Wizards played at Arrowhead Stadium.

Most fans travel to this game by bus thus skipping the “delights” of downtown Kansas City and the bus ride does offer one cool treat – a visit to the world’s largest truck stop in Iowa.

Though SKC are not really a Fire rival (despite efforts made by the KC front office to make it into something bigger) there is certainly a dislike between the players and fans on both sides.

With the October 11 game coming so late in the season, it may be a pivotal one in terms of Playoff positioning.

Week 23 – Toronto away – Saturday, August 23

By far my favorite MLS city to travel to is Toronto. It's roughly the same distance from Chicago as Kansas City and again many fans travel to Canada on supporter’s buses.

Each visit, Fire fans shack up at a great hostel where we run into soccer fans from all over the world. Toronto itself is a great city aside from the prohibitive drinking laws on weekends (who doesn’t want to have a pint at 10am while watching the Premier League the next morning?).

BMO Field is located right on the shores of Lake Ontario and is thus left exposed and is often windy and chilly but the warm pies served at some of the concessions stands are an excellent halftime treat.

On the field, the Fire have had some good success against a TFC team that has languished near the bottom of the MLS table since starting in 2007. Thankfully, this match is on a Saturday in August so I expect a much larger contingent of Fire fans to attend.

Stephen Piggott is a contributor to Chicago-Fire.com. Follow him on Twitter @Irish_Steve.

21 November 11:16 am

It comes as little surprise, just a day after being named one of three finalists for the MLS Most Valuable Player award, gathered another important accolade Thursday as he was vote Section 8 Chicago’s Supporters Player of the Year.
 
The award comes on the heels of Magee already taking the Club’s Most Valuable Player and Golden Boot award just prior to the end of the 2013 regular season.
 
Mike will be on hand Saturday at A.J. Hudson’s Public House (3801 N. Ashland) to receive his award and check for $1,500 to donate to the charity of his choice. The event begins at 6pm CT with the ceremony taking place at halftime of the MLS Eastern Conference Final Leg 2 between Sporting KC and Houston Dynamo.

See you there!

18 November 10:53 am

 

We're not far off from finding out the finalists for the 2013 MLS Most Valuable Player award and the case has more than been made for Mike Magee to take that honor.

Still, MLSsoccer.com's John Bolster recommends the Fire forward for another "not yet awarded" award, that being the league's Most Improved Player.

He makes his case for Magee here...

04 November 1:06 pm

In this business when you swear you won't use your laptop for a day, often times you miss something. Such was the case for yours truly Friday as I took a much-needed day off following 10 months of non-stop career work...

So the story goes, I missed what seems to be a pretty clear, if not indirect endorsement of Mike Magee for MVP from a former teammate and probably the greatest American soccer player of all-time, Landon Donovan.

It came in an article from Scott French on MLSsoccer.com where the veteran So-Cal writer spoke with Robbie Rogers about the trade that saw his rights traded to LA in exchange for Magee to come to Chicago.

While the article centered mainly on Rogers adjustment to LA, Donovan, who is teammates with another potential MLS MVP candidate in Robbie Keane, had this to say of his Magee's exploits this season in Chicago:

“Would we like Mike Magee here? Yes,” he said. “I think any team wants the MVP of the league on their team, so, yeah, we would like Mike here. But the reality is Mike's not here, and we're all happy for Mike, and there's no guarantee those things [Magee achieved in Chicago] would have happened had Mike stayed here."

If you know Magee, he'd traded the chance to still be playing for any individual accolade but it does seem we should add Landon to the list of MLSsoccer.com editorsWashington Post reporter Steven Goff and Soccer America's Ridge Mahoney on #MikeMageeMVP endorsements.

28 October 2:29 pm
Wait. What just happened? The Fire were up 1-0 with just over one hour left in their season. The first 25 minutes were insanely fast, yes, but the Fire were creating chances and were up a goal. Dilly Duka in particular looked menacing, and Mike Magee had got his 21st to lead the league in goals! The Fire only needed a draw and there was one hour left!
 
Then Anangono lost the ball at the NYRB box. They made one, two passes and boom. This ridiculous goal from Thierry Henry sent the Fire reeling.
 
 
What can you do? Henry didn’t even see the ball coming until it was basically on his chest. His volley was so powerful it was in the net before Sean Johnson could move his feet.
 
Suddenly the Red Bulls had not only recovered, they were growing, and the first half turned into one of the best the MLS had this year. Top quality superstars playing like it. MLS playoffs, Supporters’ Shield, and Golden Boot on the line. Red Bull Arena was the loudest it’s ever been. Things got hectic. The players were all over the field like a game of Benzedrine capture the flag. Johnson saved from Peguy Luyindola. Duka hit the side netting. Tackles were coming in from everywhere, and the only time to breathe came at the whistle for halftime.
 
So it was 1-1 and the Fire were still in the playoffs. A draw was all they needed. But we know what happened next. NYRB came out of halftime like a pack of wild dogs. They overran the Fire, starting with their hyena pack second goal, then their third, and so on and so on until five-two. Five-two - a result we’ll all remember.
 
But what happened?! How can NYRB have just three more wins than the Fire and be the best team of the regular season while the Fire are done? Whither the knife’s edge?!
 
After some time to digest, you could say the Fire just ran up against a team that simply wasn’t going to be beaten - or tied - on Sunday. NYRB was a hot team that hadn’t lost since August 25, playing in front of the best crowd most of them had ever seen at home, with a long tortured fan base poised to lift the organization’s first ever trophy. Their superstars (Henry, Tim Cahill) were inspired, the team was clicking all fall, and nobody was beating them that night.
 
So then we can ask how the Fire ended up having to play the best team in MLS with the season on the line, but we know that story. We know about the crazy ride that was the 2013 Chicago Fire. 1.0, 1.5, 2.0, etc. The pre-Magee era, the hot June, the U.S. Open Cup semifinal loss, the Anangono-Rios era, the late burst into playoff contention. Despite it all, they needed just one more point. It’s easy to look for it in games like the draw in Toronto, the blown lead against Montreal, gut punch games against Houston and Philly. The points don’t lie.
 
No, what we saw on Sunday night was what we’ve seen in parts all year. We saw a first half with some of the most entertaining footy you’ll see, and then the second half was so brutal that, to paraphrase Richard Jeni, you’d rather give birth to a porcupine that is on fire than watch it again.
 
But it wasn’t totally unexpected. That two-faced nature has been as much a part of the Fire as anything else this year. It’s just too bad it resurfaced when it did. Maybe Magee was hobbled from rolling his ankle early in the game. Maybe the Fire missed Jeff Larentowicz after accumulating too many yellows. Either way, this was the evil inconsistent side of the 2013 Fire. It’s the team that can make a 4-4-2 look like the most advanced formation around only to deteriorate into a side with little shape, leaving mismatches and wide open space all over the field.
 
After the two quick go ahead goals, NYRB was able to sit back and pick their spots. The Fire reverted to some ugly and desperate long balls that never quite came off and the second half raced to its depressing conclusion.
 
We have all fall and winter to think about what happened. How the Fire went, in 60 minutes, from one of the hottest teams heading into the playoffs to going home, season over. But personally I won’t only think about 5-2. I’ll think about Magee Face, Larentowicz Face, Duka’s megs, Chris Rolfe’s megs, all the megs!, Jalil Anibaba’s swing and miss in the wind against Philadelphia and his rocket against Dallas, Magee’s spike, the blue kit, the third kit, Joel Lindpere’s crosses, assistant coach Leo Percovich’s hair, the way Dan Kelly uses “class” as an adjective, the #cf97 moodswings, the drama, and the totally unpredictable energy that was the 2013 Chicago Fire.