Whether fact, fiction, or somewhere in between, it's a story that now ranks among the world's most recounted legends.
Late on October 8, 1871, a blaze began in the barn belonging to Patrick and Catherine O’Leary at 137 DeKoven Street in Chicago when, the story goes, a cow kicked over a lantern. But as denials and skepticism gave way to other theories, one explanation that remains as plausible as any for the cause of the devastating Great Chicago Fire is that it began as a friends fled the scene of an illegal card game.
Fast-forward 126 years to the day from that alleged card game to a date when a new venture was introduced to Chicago, one that paid homage in name and spirit to the civic rebirth that followed the tragic events of 1871. On October 8, 1997 and in the years that followed, the Chicago Fire Soccer Club captured the imagination of soccer fans in Chicagoland, both on the field and in its many connections to the city and its history.
With those two dates, separated by more than a century-and-a-quarter, as the backdrop, the club is now poised to celebrate its landmark 20th Season in 2017, collaborating with official jersey partner Valspar to commemorate all that’s been achieved through two decades and to look ahead to the next chapter.
Among the myriad ways in which the 20th Season will be brought to life -- announced today on Chicago-Fire.com -- is the use of the hashtag #HeartThisClub and creation of a custom deck of playing cards, rekindling the spirit of the illicit card game that perhaps sparked one of the defining events in Chicago history. With your input, the Fire and Valspar plan to produce a unique piece of Chicago Fire memorabilia that is representative of the club's on-field history, digitally unveiling the custom design later this season before offering the decks as a fan giveaway on Saturday, August 19 vs. Toronto FC.
So, how was the list of players to be featured determined? In short, consider it a list of players who for one reason or another -- be it through on-field excellence (however brief or prolonged), notable longevity with the club, or a key role in an indelible moment in club history, for example -- merit inclusion in telling the story of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Certainly, such a list can hardly be exhaustive, but we hope you'll enjoy reflecting on the special contributions of the four dozen players listed below.
Once the list of featured players was settled upon, names were separated by position and drawn into one of four suits. Special consideration also was given to Ring of Fire honorees to ensure that no more than two appeared in the same suit.
Voting periods for each suit are as follows:
- Diamonds: Monday, March 13 at 4 p.m. CT to Monday, March 20 at 11:59 a.m. CT
- Spades: Monday, March 20 at 4 p.m. CT to Monday, March 27 at 11:59 a.m. CT
- Clubs: Monday, March 27 at 4 p.m. CT to Monday, April 3 at 11:59 a.m. CT
- Hearts: Monday, April 3 at 4 p.m. CT to Monday, April 10 at 11:59 a.m. CT
All voting will be conducted at Chicago-Fire.com/20seasons/playing-card-vote. Fans may vote once per hour. The three players with the highest percentage share of the vote within their respective suits will be placed, in rank order, on the King, Queen and Jack face cards.
The remaining nine players in each suit will be placed at random on numeric cards (2-10). The four aces will depict the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup trophy (Diamonds), MLS Cup trophy (Spades), Supporters' Shield (Clubs) and the passion of Chicago Fire supporters (Hearts).
The Chicago Fire and Valspar are excited to join with fans in celebrating a small sampling of the many players who have worn the badge with honor over the last 20 seasons, and in recalling their contributions while embarking on the next two decades of Chicago Fire soccer!
20th Season Commemorative Playing Cards: Featured Players
|U.S. Open Cup (Ace)||MLS Cup (Ace)||Supporters' Shield (Ace)||Supporters (Ace)|
|C.J. Brown||David Accam||Chad Barrett||Chris Armas|
|Michael de Leeuw||Carlos Bocanegra||DaMarcus Beasley||Austin Berry|
|Arne Friedrich||Jon Busch||Calen Carr||Cuauhtémoc Blanco|
|Nate Jaqua||Wilman Conde||Andy Herron||Jim Curtin|
|Dema Kovalenko||Frank Klopas||Roman Kosecki||Sebastian Grazzini|
|Lubos Kubik||Dominic Oduro||Justin Mapp||Ivan Guerrero|
|Jeff Larentowicz||Marco Pappa||Piotr Nowak||Diego Gutierrez|
|Patrick Nyarko||Pavel Pardo||Ante Razov||Sean Johnson|
|Jerzy Podbrozny||Logan Pause||Dasan Robinson||Mike Magee|
|Damani Ralph||Hristo Stoichkov||Harry Shipp||Jesse Marsch|
|Chris Rolfe||Thiago||Zach Thornton||Brian McBride|
|Gonzalo Segares||Eric Wynalda||Josh Wolff||John Thorrington|