The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced its 2011 preseason schedule today. The Men in Red report to TOYOTA PARK this Thursday, Jan. 27 for the official start of the club’s 14th season. The Fire will train in Bridgeview, Ave Maria, Florida and Charleston, South Carolina, playing eight matches over the course of the next 51 days in preparation for their MLS First Kick match against FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 PM CT. Following initial physical exams and fitness test, the Fire will spend nine days at the Bridgeview Soccer & Sports Dome, starting on Monday, Jan. 31 before departing to Florida. Media availability times for the first leg will be announced at a later date.
Following a week and a half at the newly remodeled Bridgeview Soccer & Sports Dome, the Fire will head to Ave Maria, FL where the club will train at Ave Maria University from Feb. 14 until Feb. 26. During the Fire’s stay at Ave Maria University, the club will be assisted operationally by the Chicago Fire Juniors – Naples, an extension of the Fire’s player development system who operate just 17 miles east of the small university.
While training in the Sunshine State, Carlos de los Cobos side will build fitness in exhibition matches against Florida Gulf Coast University on Thursday, Feb. 17 (TBA) and a doubleheader against the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday, Feb. 23 at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, FL at 10 AM and noon CT. The Fire will play two additional exhibition matches while in Florida, those opponents, dates and times will be announced at a later date.
The Fire return to Chicago for two days before departing for Charleston, SC on Tuesday, March 1, where the team will compete in the Carolina Challenge Cup for the first time. Hosted by the Charleston Battery at Blackbaud Stadium, the Fire will take on MLS adversaries D.C. United, Toronto FC along with the host club. The Fire open the tournament against Toronto FC on Saturday, March 5, followed by D.C. United on Wednesday, March 9. The club will conclude the tournament on Saturday, March 12 against the Charleston Battery.
The players return to Chicago on Sunday, March 13 ahead of the club’s 2011 Season Kickoff Luncheon on Monday, March 14 at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The Men in Red will round out the preseason camp with a week of training at TOYOTA PARK before heading to Dallas to renew the Brimstone Cup rivalry.
The Fire will host Opening Day at TOYOTA PARK against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, March 26 at 3:00 PM CT. Chicago Fire Season Tickets and 2011 Winter Packs, which give fans the opportunity to witness the Men in Red in action on Opening Day and the Fire’s second home match in 2011, are available by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE (657-3473), via Ticketmaster or by heading to the club’s official website at Chicago-Fire.com.
Chicago Fire 2011 Preseason Schedule (all times CT):
Jan. 27: Players report to TOYOTA PARK
Jan. 28 – Jan. 31: Fitness and Medical Examinations at TOYOTA PARK
Jan. 31 – Feb. 5: Training at the Bridgeview Soccer & Sports Dome
Feb. 6: Players off in Chicago, IL
Feb. 7-11: Training at the Bridgeview Soccer & Sports Dome
Feb. 12 – Feb. 13: Players off in Chicago
Feb. 14: Travel to Ave Maria, FL
Feb. 15- Feb. 26: Training in Ave Maria, FL
Feb. 17: Match vs. Florida Gulf Coast University
Feb. 20: Match vs. TBD (TBA)
Feb. 23: Match vs. New York Red Bulls (10 and noon)
Feb. 26: Match vs. TBD (TBA)
Feb. 27: Return to Chicago
Feb. 28: Players off in Chicago
March 1: Travel to Charleston, SC
March 5: Match vs. Toronto FC (4:00 PM)
March 9: Match vs. D.C. United (4:00 PM)
March 12: Match vs. Charleston Battery (6:15)
March 14: 2011 Season Kickoff Luncheon at Hyatt Regency Chicago
March 14 - March 18: Training at TOYOTA PARK
March 19: First Kick match on the road against FC Dallas (7:30 PM)
March 26: Opening Day at TOYOTA PARK versus Sporting KC (3:00 PM)