The beginning of MLS scheduling season came and went today with the announcement of all team’s First Kick and Home Opening matches for the 2013 campaign.
Praise to the heavens, for the first time in four years, the Fire won’t be charged with opening up a new stadium but that’s likely only because no new MLS grounds are set to open until 2014. See you then, San Jose.
In case you missed it, the Fire open up at two-time defending MLS Cup champions on Sunday, March 3 before returning home to host the New England Revolution for Opening Day at Toyota Park on Saturday, March 9.
Because Sporting KC opens up their first two matches on the road, we also found out that the Fire will be their opponent when they open their third season at LiveStrong Sporting Park on March 16.
Some interesting things you should know about the team’s first three games and opponents…
· If you felt a slight frost come over you with today’s announcement, it’s because both the March 3 First Kick match and March 9 Opening Day game will be the earliest competitive matches in club history.
· The earliest game in Fire history came in a CONCACAF Champions Cup match on March 16, 2002 at Guatemalan side CSD Municipal as the Men in Red used a 55th minute goal from Dema Kovalenko to take the first leg 1-0.
· The earliest home game in Fire history also came in the return leg four days later when Ante Razov and Carlos Bocanegra scored to give the Fire a 3-0 aggregate win and push them to the next round of the tournament.
· The Fire have actually played four of the team’s previous 15 home openers against New England, going 3-0-1 against the Revolution (2003: 1-1 draw, 2006: 3-3 draw, 2007: 1-0 win, 2008: 4-0 win)
· The Fire have faced at least one of their three opening opponents in 2013 in their first three matches 10 times out of 15 seasons.
· Much like the team opened up at home three years in a row against New England, they also had a spell between 1998-2000 that saw them face Kansas City in one of their first three matches of the year. In total, they’ve played Kansas City six times (1998, '99, '00, '03, '04, '11) inside their first three games of the season, going 3-2-1 in those instances.
· The First Kick match on March 3 marks the first time the Fire will open up a season against the LA Galaxy. It also marks the first time in club history the Fire will kickoff against the previous season’s MLS Cup champion.
· Overall, the Fire are a combined 5-3-4 when facing the three sides in their first three regular season matches of a campaign.
So what do you think of the first three matchups? What date are you picking in the “Full Schedule Release” pool?
With today's league-wide announcement of MLS First Kick and Home Opening matches, we wanted to take a photgraphic look back at some of the team's previous matches to open their season...
While the MLS offseason continues to grow shorter and shorter, at times it can be slightly boring compared to the fast-paced nature of what comes from January to October (and hopefully November).
With #cf97withdrawals inhabiting my brain as I await the very big schedule announcement that will allow me to figure out what away cities I’d like to visit, I did have one thought and request from Major League Soccer…
WATCH: Nyarko's Blast from Distance (10/27/2012)
Over the last three seasons, MLS has found a way to schedule a match between the Fire and D.C. United in October and whether deserved or not, to their credit those games have always been memorable…
In 2010, the Fire’s last home game came against United, with perhaps the 0-0 draw being overshadowed by American soccer legend Brian McBride taking his final bow in his hometown of Chicago.
In 2011, who could forget the Fire’s incredible, “Capitol Comeback” which saw the team score two stoppage time goals to win the match after just conceding a Dwayne DeRosario penalty kick at RFK?
The 1-1 draw between the teams this past October was less memorable because of the result but still provided some excellent moments. Among them, Patrick Nyarko’s stunning goal from distance in the first half as well as the Fire’s late barrage on United goalkeeper Bill Hamid with playoff positioning on the line.
Maybe it’s just dumb luck or the MLS scheduling computer has psychic powers but each instance has provided moments that fans of at least one team won’t forget.
With that in mind, my request to the MLS league office as well as United:
Keep things going for 2013 and have the Fire host D.C. on Friday, October 25 to mark the 15 year anniversary of MLS Cup 1998. Why not package it as one of NBC Sports Network’s Friday night broadcasts?
With both teams showing reinvigorated form this past season, coupled with the famous Austin Berry/Nick DeLeon Rookie of the Year battle, perhaps the flames of rivalry that waned over recent years have been fanned once again.
Even better, Frank Klopas and Ben Olsen both played against each other in the match as did Josh Wolff who now serves as an assistant in D.C.
The storylines going in would be as good as any and if there’s as much to play for as when the two sides met this past October, it would have all the makings of being another memorable game, one that the Fire would hopefully win 2-0.
The openers are set to be announced any day now but there's plenty of time to make something like this happen before the full schedule release.
Hopefully we can see it happen.
WATCH: The Run to MLS Cup '98
After Day 1 of the 2012 Chicago Fire Open Tryouts, below is the final list of players selected to participate in Day 2 on Saturday. Thanks to all the participants!
Miguel Lopez Varela
Celso De La Luz Machuca
Leon Fabio Zapata
The 2012 Chicago Fire Open Tryouts have just kicked off at the Bridgeview Sports Dome! We'll have live updates of the players that advanced through every session right here! Stay tuned!
Major League Soccer today released the final list of players eligible for Stage Two of the MLS Re-Entry process to take place via teleconference Friday afternoon at 2pm CT.
Midfielder Corben Bone, defender Dan Gargan and goalkeeper Jay Nolly remained on the list from the Fire after passing through the Stage One draft last Friday. Of course the Fire were the only team to select a player in that draft, picking Brazilian forward Maicon Santos.
The Stage Two draft typically has more activity as teams who select players on Friday can negotiate their salaries. In Stage Two, teams cannot select their own players until after all 18 other teams have passed on them.
Players that pass through Friday's draft without getting picked are free to sign with any MLS team on a first-come, first-served basis. If you're at all still confused, I explained the entire Re-Entry Process in this blog last Friday.
The list of the 49 eligible players for Re-Entry is below. Salary numbers are from the most recent report by the MLS Players Union.
This is probably a weaker Re-Entry Field than we've seen in the two previous versions. Given the three players the Fire have exposed to the draft and considering the moves made so far this offseason (re-signing Arne Friedrich and Gonzalo Segares; acquiring Maicon Santos), who, if anyone would you want to see the Fire take in Stage Two tomorrow?
Tell us in the comments below...
|Team||Player||Position||2012 Base Salary|
|CHV||Juan Pablo Angel||F||$350,000|
|DAL||Julian De Guzman||M||$1,863,996|
|RSL||Paulo Araujo, Jr.||F||$65,000|
Over the last few years, tifo displays have become a rather large part of showcasing the vibrancy of a club’s supporters.
Long before tifo became the backdrop for so many wire photos and national broadcasts, it was Section 8 Chicago that helped to pioneer the movement in MLS circles.
It’s hard to forget some of the very memorable displays the ISA has come up with over the years: Super Mario Bros., “La Vida es un Carnivale”, “Tonight, We Reignite the Fire” and the Diversity display are just a few.
While all of those are very elaborate displays that take months of planning and work, much more simple displays (referred to as two-poles for the mechanisms that hold them in the air) have also become staples of the Harlem End.
Personal favorites of mine are the Stewie Griffin (right), The Blues Brothers and even my own special display that made its way into the Section earlier this year.
As we head towards the 2013 season, Section 8 is holding a Tifo Workshop this Sunday, December 16 from noon to 7pm at ChiTown Futbol (2255 S. Throop) in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.
The workshop is open to all Fire fans who wish to create where their own two-pole or wall banner to hang at Fire matches. Folks that come out can also learn more about the work involved in creating the larger, aforementioned tifo displays that decorate the stadium from time to time.
The Banner Workshop will run from 12 noon until 7PM, and Tifo Crew members will be on hand to help you with your project. Bring your design on a USB flash drive or on a computer that has an HDMI output. Supplies will be provided by Section 8 Chicago.
Check out this video from the Tifo Crew Workshop held at ChiTown in Feburary…
See you Sunday!
What better way to celebrate the day then by taking a look back at the men who have worn 12 for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club…
Ante Razov (#12 from 1998-99)
Ante began what would go on to be an illustrious club goal-scoring record wearing 12 in his first two seasons in Chicago. As he did almost every season he was with the Fire, the young striker led the team in goals across all competitions both years he wore the number, tallying 11 to go with an apt 12 assists in 1998 before bagging 18 and seven assists the following season.
In all, Razov wore the number 12 in 75 competitive matches over the two seasons before Jerzy Podbrozny’s departure allowed him to switch to the number 9 for the 2000 seaosn.
Carlos Bocanegra (#12 in 2000)
Many forget that the future U.S. Men’s National Team captain, who came to wear lower defensive numbers later in his career, began his rookie season in 2000 with the number 12.
It would suit Boca well, as he tallied one goal and one assist in 39 competitive matches, en route to helping the Fire to the 2000 U.S. Open Cup title, an MLS Cup final appearance and that season’s Rookie of the Year honors.
Following Sam George’s retirement in early November 2000, Bocanegra would switch to the number 4, wearing it until his departure for Fulham following the 2003 MLS season.
Justin Evans (#12 in 2001)
In 2000, midfielder Justin Evans had been a Fire call-up from the A-League’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds when national team commitments left Bob Bradley with a thin lineup. The following season, the Fire actually selected Evans in the MLS SuperDraft with the defensive midfielder appearing in seven competitive matches wearing the number 12 that year.
In July 2001, he was traded to Dallas for future considerations and would go on to have a fruitful career in USL and indoor leagues. Evans has been the head coach of the Riverhounds since 2010.
Logan Pause (#12 from 2003-06, 2010-present)
After the 12 shirt sat vacant during the 2002 season, Fire rookie midfielder Logan Pause would begin occupying it the following season. In his first stint with the number, the defensive midfielder and sometimes right back would make 117 appearances, tallying five assists and would go on to win the 2003 and 2006 U.S. Open Cups as well as the 2003 MLS Supporters Shield.
Sometime between the end of 2006 and start of 2007, Pause switched to the number 7, wearing it for three seasons before switching back to 12 in 2010.
I asked Logan about the reasons behind the switch earlier this year and perhaps channeling Yogi Berra just a tad he responded saying, “At the time I felt more like a number seven and around 2010 I felt like a number 12 again.”
Pause has worn the number each of the last three seasons, scoring two of his three career goals while in it. Much like he’s one of the longest all-time tenured members of the club, Pause has occupied the 12 longer than any other Fire player, wearing it in 211 competitive matches across seven seasons.
Paulo Wanchope (#12 in 2007)
The legendary Costa Rican striker joined the Fire from FC Tokyo midway through 2007 and wore the 12 shirt in 13 matches that season, scoring two goals before bringing an end to his illustrious career.
Patrick Nyarko (#12 in 2008)
Much like forgetting Bocanegra wore the shirt, I’d forgotten Patrick Nyarko briefly suited up as #12 during his rookie year of 2008. This is perhaps because Nyarko didn’t play for the Fire in the first half of the season as he finished his degree at Virginia Tech.
Before moving to the number 14 the following season, Nyarko tallied his first-ever goal in the 12 shirt, scoring the lone strike in a 1-0 home win over Chivas USA on August 2, 2008.