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Blog

28 May 8:11 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. 
 
27 May 12:21 pm

May 27, 2012 – Byhalia, Ohio

The fields of Ohio roll as American flags ripple from front porches.

Farm houses adorn the road where silos stand as markers in the distance and a bus filled with soccer players and coaches from 12 countries chug along the two lane highway past Range’s Belly Acre and the Mt. Victory Drive through.

You can practically taste the tangy-sweet of street-side lemonade and imagine the yard sale bargains spelled upon the underside of card board boxes.
 
It’s fitting, that as the Fire begin its foray into the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, the nation’s longest standing team tournament, that the team does so by traversing US-23 N and the nooks and crannies of America’s Midwest. Teams from Chicago have captured the U.S. Open Cup nine times collectively, with the Fire at the top of the list with four.
 
One can imagine a bus, not too dissimilar from this one, carrying a group of immigrant Czechs through the dairy farms and corn fields of the Midwest as Chicago Sparta captured the 1938 U.S. Open Cup (or as it was called then, the National Challenge Cup).
 
The A.A.C Eagles, a club of Polish immigrants, found early success making deep tournament runs while riding buses across a post-World War II America, and finally captured the crown in 1990, beating the Brooklyn Italians in Indianapolis. You’d have to suspect bus rides home for both sides were joyous ones.
 
And here we sit, Beats headphones on and decorated in adidas gear working our way to one of the bedrocks of the American Midwest - Detroit, for a Tuesday Open Cup match against the PDL's Michigan Bucks. 
 
Fire Head Coach Frank Klopas looks back at the group and remarks, “I like these small towns, they have character."

 

26 May 1:00 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 11:36 am

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 9:40 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 7:42 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 4:50 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.

 

25 May 1:17 pm

The Chicago Fire hold an impressive 10-6-6- record at Columbus Crew stadium in 22 competitive matches since the soccer-specific venue opened in 1999. The Crew may be tagged as “America’s Hardest Working Team,” but the Fire have ruined many of their days working from home. As we once again make Crew Stadium FireHouse East (#FHEAST) this weekend, here are five memorable matches between the two sides in the Ohio capital... 

October 10, 1999 • Chicago Fire 2-1 Win

Hosting the Fire at their brand new soccer specific stadium almost a year after the Bob Bradley’s side upended the Crew 2-1 in U.S. Open Cup final, the home side was happy to run out to a 2-0 lead, using goals from Brian McBride (5’) and Jeff Cunningham (65’). The second goal was enough to get the Fire to respond as Ante Razov tallied a penalty a minute later before Chicagoan Tommy Soehn grabbed the equalizer 10 minutes later to take the match to the vaunted hockey-style shootout. The Fire were able to keep the Crew from feeling any redemption, winning the pseudo-penalty decider 2-1 thanks to three saves from goalkeeper Zach Thornton and two goals from Razov and Dema Kovalenko.

 

 

April 1, 2000 • Chicago Fire 2-0 Win

 This match is notable for featuring four future MLS head coaches in their playing days - Peter Nowak, Jesse Marsch, Tom Soehn, and Robert Warzycha. With all that future managing talent in one match, you’ve got to wonder who on the Fire’s current roster could be a manager in coming years… That’s not to mention future Ring of Fire inductees Lubos Kubik, and CJ Brown as well as Brian McBride (playing at that time for the Crew). Ultimately, the Fire would take this match with a 5th minute goal from Ante Razov and another from Nowak in the 36th.

July 20, 2004 • Chicago Fire 2-1 Win (U.S. Open Cup 4th Round)

Seeing as the team is about to once again begin play in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup and the current penchant for coming from behind, this one seemed appropriate. Back in 2004, the Fire entered the tournament with a fourth round match at that year’s Supporters Shield winners. The Crew took a 1-0 lead into halftime via Frankie Hejduk’s 27th minute strike but Damani Ralph responded for the Fire in the 65th minute to eventually send it to extra time. Nearing the end of the first overtime period, Chris Armas set up Ralph for the Golden Goal winner in the 105th minute and beginning the team’s run to the 2004 final.

 September 8, 2007 • Chicago Fire 1-0 Win

Costa Rican World Cup veteran and former Manchester City striker Paulo Wanchope only played for the Fire for one year, scoring just 2 goals in 12 appearances. Fortunately, one of those came in the 65th minute of this match (anyone noticing a pattern here?) and combining with Matt Pickens’ five saves was enough to collect all three points at Columbus. The result would go a long way towards helping the Fire recover from an early-season slump to eventually make the MLS Cup playoffs and the Eastern Conference championship match.

June 12, 2011 • Chicago Fire 1-0 Win

 The 2011 season marked this first year of the club-sponsored fan bus trip to Crew Stadium, with over 500 supporters cheering on the Men in Red behind enemy lines.  Both teams fought hard, but as seen in the history between these sides, the excitement was saved until the very end. In the 90th minute, Cristian Nazarit put himself in the right place at the right time to slot home Orr Barouch’s rebound, to take a 1-0 lead. Clearly, the presence of the traveling supporters had been felt by the team and resulted in a truly massive goal.

 The victory was also the team’s first in five tries across all competitions at Crew Stadium since the last win on September 8, 2007.

WATCH: Frank Klopas talks 2011 #FHEAST Invasion of Columbus

25 May 7:51 am

As my granpappy used to say, a blog in the hand is better than two in the bush. 

It seems as if all the kids these days are putting together blogs and since we’re team players here at Chicago-Fire.com we thought we’d answer the bell, not pull any punches and barge right in to this whole blog scene. 
 
Our new blog, Always on the Inside,  won’t blog around the bush, we’ll do our best not to blog up the wrong tree and we’ll certainly not blog a dead horse (for a number of reasons, but mostly because that’s cruel). 
 
Since bloggers can’t be choosers, here at Always on the Inside we are going to stick to what we know. There will be no blog and bull stories, instead we’re going to put our blog to the grindstone and provide an in-depth look that cuts to the chase and provides a detailed look (through Fire colored glasses) at soccer in Chicago. 
 
We won’t be blogging until we are blue in the face, there will be a number of voices on Always on the Inside and we’re hopeful that you the reader will step up to the spot and throw your proverbial hat in the ring. We don’t want you to handle our blog with kid gloves and to the commenter go the spoils. So please utilize Always on the Inside as your soap box, we’re an open book. 
 
Well, I’m out of gas. Don’t throw this blog out with the baby water (or is it bath water?) because Always on the Inside really is a blog of a different color. 
 
Out of the frying pan and into the Fire, 
 
Welcome to Always on the Inside.
 

24 May 11:03 am

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!