A game more than eight months in the making lived up to expectations and then some, as the Chicago Fire and FC Bayern Munich came together Tuesday at the Allianz Arena in Munich to honor the legacy of Bastian Schweinsteiger and provide the German icon a proper sendoff in front of the FC Bayern faithful.
The first-of-its-kind friendly involving an MLS side ended with the scoreboard showing a 4-0 victory for the hosts, but the focus of the 75,000-plus spectators -- a crowd that featured many Fire fans from the U.S. and abroad -- following the match was on showing Schweinsteiger their appreciation for 13 years of memories, trophies and service to the club.
Below are a few of the highlights from an emotional night at the Allianz Arena:
There’s no real way to prepare for taking the pitch in front of 75,000 fans, even without the pressures of a competitive match to account for. But after an early chance for FC Bayern caromed off the woodwork in the third minute, and Fire players up and down the field gained a few more touches on the ball, the Men In Red settled in and began to find the game. Schweinsteiger got stuck in on a few challenges at the defensive end, Nemanja Nikolic came close to catching goalkeeper Sven Ulreich off his line from distance, the midfield tandem of Dax McCarty and Djordje Mihailovic found the ball, and defender Christian Dean delivered a timely clearance on more than one occasion.
It was only fitting that a celebratory night for an icon like Bastian Schweinsteiger would bring with it its own iconic moments, as was the case before, during and after the 90 minutes on the pitch. From the thousands of #31 shirts gathered outside the Allianz Arena, to the chants of “FUSSBALLGOTT” ringing throughout the stadium, to Schweinsteiger’s second-half reunion with the likes of Thomas Müller, Arjen Robben, David Alaba and Franck Ribéry, to his postgame address, tribute videos and lap of honor, all in attendance left with a new batch of memories to file away in their proverbial Schweinsteiger scrapbook.
Man of the Hour
Of course, it’s hard for any moment from Tuesday night to surpass that of the 83rd minute, when Schweinsteiger found net after seeing his first few looks at net stymied by his Fire teammates. Schweinsteiger latched onto a service and one-timed a class finish past Richard Sánchez in net. The goal turned an already playful and memorable night into a full-on party and served as the dream segue to Schweinsteiger’s emotional farewell address to the supporters after the match.