The final MLS moment for former Chicago Fire defender and U.S. National Team captain Carlos Bocanegra was a deflating 4-2 loss to the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2003 MLS Cup.
Bocanegra, a former MLS Rookie of the Year and two-time MLS Defender of the Year, then had the opportunity to play for Fulham immediately after that season. And in his absence (along with some other changeover), the Fire went from MLS Cup runner-up to missing the postseason in 2004.
"I still remember how I felt after that game -- it was just an empty feeling," Bocanegra said Thursday from the U.S. Soccer House in the South Loop. "You had all this work, and we had a great team, but we came away with nothing. Yet we were so close. I would like to come back to MLS eventually, and hopefully I can come back here to the Fire and make up for lost times."
Bocanegra and the U.S. squad are preparing for Saturday's friendly against Poland at Soldier Field. Meanwhile, his former Fire side is prepping for Friday's match against the Columbus Crew. And as the Fire get ready to celebrate their 13th anniversary, there is a bitter pill to swallow as they are inches away from failing to qualify for the playoffs for only the second time.
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