I’m a man of occasion. I wear green on St. Patrick’s Day, ride a bike on Earth Day, light a sparkler on the Fourth of July and eat turkey on Thanksgiving. In that spirit and with the induction of C.J. Brown into the Ring of Fire at halftime of tonight’s game vs. Real Salt Lake, I’ve made today’s “Five Things” center in some way, shape or form all around #2.
1) CLOSE GAMES… With last year’s Marco Pappa thrilling hat trick leading the Fire to a 3-0 victory at Real Salt Lake being the outlier, eight of the last nine matches (including the 2009 Eastern Conference Final) have been tight affairs. In those eight games there were a TOTAL of seven goals scored between the two clubs, with the Fire going 1-2-5 against RSL.
The team will look to earn its first win vs. RSL at Toyota Park since August 1, 2009, a game in which C.J. Brown went the full 90 minutes in for the Fire.
2) #2 REMAINS VACANT… C.J. Brown announced his retirement from a legendary 13-year career with the Chicago Fire on October 22, 2010, one day before what would be his last game, a 4-1 trouncing of Chivas USA… Since then 31 new players have been on the Fire first team roster at some point, leaving the #2 shirt vacant throughout.
A fact I feel should be reiterated: C.J. Brown is the only #2 the club has ever known.
3) NINE REMAIN While 31 players have joined the club following C.J.’s retirement, nine still remain from his final season in Chicago. They are Nyarko, Pappa, Logan Pause, Gonzalo Segares, Sean Johnson, Corben Bone, Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Steven Kinney and Victor Pineda.
4) APPEARANCE MILESTONES…Both Fire attacking players Marco Pappa and Patrick Nyarko will hit regular season appearance milestones tonight. Pappa will move into a tie for 15th with DaMarcus Beasley on the club’s all-time MLS appearance list at 98 games played while Nyarko will move past former Fire defender and current analyst Evan Whitfield with 104 games played.
To put things in perspective, the combined games played between the current attacking duo (with tonight’s game included) would put them at 202 games played, still 94 MLS regular season matches behind Mr. Brown.
5) RSL WITHOUT 2… C.J. and the rest of the Real Salt Lake coaching staff will be without two starters Wednesday night. Former Fire midfielder and Woodridge, Ill. product Will Johnson is suspended for the match following a hard foul in RSL’s victory over New England at the weekend, while goalkeeper Nick Rimando has remained in Utah after injuring his shoulder in the same match.