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O'Leary, Nowak, Sullivan, Klopas, Cohn, Kubik all names tied in Chicago History

08 October 8:57 am

O'Leary, Nowak, Sullivan, Klopas, Cohn, Kubik all names tied in Chicago History

By Jeff Crandall

One hundred and forty-one years ago today, the Great Chicago Fire set the city ablaze, destroying 3.3 square miles of the city.

Writing for the Chicago Tribune, a man named Michael Ahern reported that Catherine O'Leary's cow started the blaze by kicking over a lantern in the family barn at 137 DeKoven Street.

Other rumors surfaced it was the fault of Daniel "Pegleg" Sullivan, the first person on the scene of the fire who ran to free the animals from the barn before awakening the O'Learys. Still others place the blame on Louis M. Cohn who had admitted to have been gambling in the barn with O'Leary's son.

Whatever the case, all three names are enshrined in Chicago lore for the event that destroyed a large part of the city that immediately built itself back up again.

The Chicago Fire Soccer Club

One hundred and twenty-six years later, after a number of attempts at professional soccer in the city of Chicago with the Cats, Mustangs, Sting and many others, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club was born at the city's iconic Navy Pier.

With the name derived from the city's defining event, the Fire had an immediate, built-in tie to the community. Just over a year later, the tradition of success began as the Fire clinched an unprecedented expansion MLS and U.S. Open Cup double. 

Much like O'Leary, Sullivan and Cohn, names such as Peter Nowak, Frank Klopas, Lubos Kubik, Ante Razov, Diego Gutierrez and many others wrote their names in Fire history that year and in those to come.

Sunday afternoon the above five names plus a guy named Hristo Stoitchkov took part in a celebratory Alumni match with Section 8 Chicago and Wisla Chicago at Toyota Park (PHOTOS).

Watching the game was like old times, seeing the guys connect like it hadn't been over a decade since they all last played together. A 46-year-old Stoitchkov put on his usual magic, connecting with a brace while Razov tallied a third.

Tied at 3-3, the game went to penalty kicks where Razov, Stoitchkov, Gutierrez and Nowak all converted to give the combine Legends/Section 8 team the victory. 

A little over an hour later, the club got a great anniversary present as the final whistle blew in Columbus with the Crew and Sporting KC playing to a 1-1 draw, pushing the Fire into the playoffs for 12th time in 15 seasons. 

Tonight, the above names will join the likes of Chris Armas, Zach Thornton, Jesse Marsch, Justin Mapp, Evan Whitfield, Dasan Robinson, Kelly Gray, Andy Herron, Mike Sorber and Denis Hamlett and 400 members of the Chicago Fire family to celebrate 15 years of Tradition, Honor and Passion at the Chicago History Museum. 

Happy Anniversary to all!