The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced today that Fire Original C.J. Brown will retire at the end of the 2010 season. The last remaining member of the 1998 double-winning team will end his memorable 13-year playing career following the Fire’s 2010 regular season finale against Chivas USA on Saturday, Oct. 23 at 10:00 PM CT (FSC/FD). Brown has appeared in 370 games across all competitions for the Men in Red, by far the most appearances in the club’s history.
“Making the decision to retire was tough because this team is like a family to me,” said CJ Brown. “I’ve been a part of this club since 1998. I feel like I grew up here in Chicago. My family was formed here – I met my wife in California, but my marriage, my kids – everything – has happened here in Chicago. But, I think it’s just time for me to move on and do something different in my life. I want to thank the fans, the club, and all the teammates I’ve played with over the years. You’ve meant everything to me.”
Brown was drafted number one overall in the 1998 MLS Supplemental Draft out of San Jose State University and made an immediate impact on the Fire expansion side, appearing in 17 games during the club’s inaugural season. The stout defender helped lead the club to the American “Double”, winning MLS Cup and the U.S. Open Cup in the club’s first year.
“As our last and longest serving Fire original, CJ Brown is beloved and will be greatly missed by everyone in the Club and all of our fans. He has made an indelible impact on the club and the game. I wish him and his family the very best and he will always be part of the Fire family,” said Chicago Fire owner Andrew Hauptman.
Brown’s MLS record 13 consecutive seasons with the Fire saw the defender tally five goals and 15 assists while helping the club to six domestic championships. The 2001 MLS All-Star selection garnered the club’s 2006 Defender of the Year award and has made contributions off the field as well, winning the 2001, 2002 and 2003 Fire/United States Soccer Federation Humanitarian of the Year awards for his efforts in the Chicagoland area community.
“C.J. Brown embodies the Tradition. Honor. Passion., that is the Chicago Fire Soccer Club,” said Fire Technical Director, Frank Klopas. “For 13 years, C.J. has played with heart, grit and tenacity, giving everything he has to the Fire organization. Having played alongside C.J. on the inaugural Fire team, it is an emotional day for me to see the last Fire Original call it a career, however, I know that I’ll continue to work with C.J. as he remains an active part of the Fire family.”
Brown’s consistent performance with the Fire led him to 15 caps with the U.S. Men’s National team, making his debut against Australia on November 6, 1998 during a friendly match. The 35-year-old defender also appeared in the U.S.’s third-place finish at the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup.
The Hayward, CA product began his soccer career with the San Francisco Bay Seals in the United Soccer League Premier Development League (former USISL Premier League) from 1994 to 1997, where he appeared in 47 matches before getting picked by the Fire.