Collins John says Open Cup return to Chicago was “meant to be”

Former Fire forward set to come back to Toyota Park Wednesday with Pittsburgh

When he signed for the Pittsburgh Riverhounds earlier this year, former Fire forward Collins John never thought much about the fact that he might come up against his old club.

But as Pittsburgh entered the Open Cup third round against south side amateur club RWB Adria last month, the Dutchman says he got a little extra motivation from the possibility of a matchup with the Fire.

“When someone told me it would be the Fire next if we won, I got excited,” John told Chicago-Fire.com. “You don’t always get the chance to return to your old club and the old ground you played at.” 

John was motivated enough to bag a late equalizer, tying the match at 2-2 before the Riverhounds eventually dispatched Adria 3-2 in extra time.

“The way we won, it was meant to be for me to get back and play the Fire.”

Once a highly touted, up and coming prospect that famously kept Brian McBride on the bench for a spell while with English Premier League side Fulham, John reunited with his former Cottager teammate with the Fire at the beginning of 2010.

The hope was for the Dutchman to aid McBride and the rest of the Fire offense in scoring goals but John only hit the back of the net three times in 17 matches. At the end of the season, player and club parted ways.

Though things didn’t work out in Chicago, John says he doesn’t carry any extra motivation to prove himself against his former club Wednesday (live stream on Chicago-Fire.com at 7:30pm CT).

“I don’t think I left with negativity,” he said. “At that time, it was the right time for me to go back to Europe. I loved every minute of my time in Chicago and right now I’m excited to come back and do well for Pittsburgh. I’m looking forward to seeing all the old boys – Sean Johnson, Patrick Nyarko, Logan [Pause], and C.J. [Brown].

“We know it will be a tough game because the Fire are a tough side but you never know in football, maybe there’s an upset in the making.”

Pittsburgh’s win over Adria was the team’s first of the season, after starting the USL PRO campaign with an 0-6-3 record. The slow beginning saw the club dismiss head coach and former Fire player Justin Evans and name former Fire PDL defender Nikola Katic as the team’s interim player/manager.

By far the most experienced player on the Pittsburgh roster, John was made captain by Katic and leads the team with five goals across all competitions.

“We had a rough start, the first seven or eight games weren’t very good,” he said. “A lot of changes have been made the last few weeks. Things have turned and we’re moving in the right direction, we’re still in it and we just need to forget about the past.”

A win in Wednesday’s fourth round match vs. the Fire could go a long way for USL PRO’s bottom feeder club to do that.