When the Chicago Fire walk onto the old turf at Olympic Stadium Saturday afternoon, they’ll see more than a few familiar faces among the 50,000+ in attendance.
Impact head coach Jesse Marsch headlines a list of five Montreal coaches and players that spent at least a season with the Fire. At his side will be former Fire head coach and longtime assistant Denis Hamlett and another former midfielder Mike Sorber (2000), while he’ll having longtime winger Justin Mapp (2003-10) and goalkeeper Greg Sutton (1999-00) at his disposal.
“Those are all guys that were a special part of this organization,” said Fire captain Logan Pause. “That group all helped us win championships and also lay the foundation of what this club has been about. They’ve been around the league a long time to know what it takes to be successful.”
Pause often mentions former captain Chris Armas as influencing on his career but he also pointed specifically to Marsch (pictured right), with whom he lined up with 47 times from 2003-05, for helping set an example he’s continued to follow today.
“Jesse played a big part in who I am as a player and as a person. He’s a guy that was very underrated and didn’t get a whole lot of credit for the kind of player he was but what he did in his career in terms of always being on the field. People didn’t get to see him in training much but he was a winner. He hated losing and those are things that continue to help me. Having said that Saturday is about us.”
As he opens his 10th season with the Fire in front of what will be a boisterous Montreal crowd, Pause recognizes the challenge that lies ahead but feels confident the team can earn points Saturday.
“We know that with it being an expansion team there will be a huge crowd with a lot of emotion and energy. The big thing for us is to get through the first 10-15 minutes. There’s going to be a lot thrown at us at the beginning but we just have to recognize that it’s still 11v11, we need to stick with our game plan, be disciplined and well-organized. I think if we execute that we’ll put ourselves in a good position to get points.”