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History Made: Chicago Fire record 1000th regular season MLS goal

Chicago Fire’s 1000th MLS goal was very much a product of its time as well as a product of its team, with CJ Sapong getting the crucial touch to bundle the ball home, only for the goal to be initially disallowed by referee Ramy Touchan. It meant a short anxious wait until video review corrected the mistake. But after two decades, what’s an extra minute?

Perhaps the most significant aspect of reaching 1000 goals as a team, is that it’s a milestone marker for your collective presence over time. One player scores the landmark goal — but every player to have worn the shirt made it, over every minute the team has played. So looking back through the various goalscoring milestones of the Chicago Fire over the years, on the road to 1000, what’s striking is not so much the significance of the individual goals or goalscorers, but what those moments evoke about eras of the team — it’s a kind of core sample through the consistent presence of Chicago Fire sides since the 1998 season.

For the perfect example, you might look at goal number 500, scored by Chad Barrett, with an assist from Cuauhtémoc Blanco. Just seeing those names together is to experience two strong narratives of the team and league as a whole — Barrett, the striker whose generation of American players consolidated the league, and who in many ways came to stand for that generation as an everyman figure, and Blanco, the Mexican superstar writing Chicago’s first chapter of the Designated Player era. Squint at events a little, and there’s a certain apt blue-collar Chicago poetry to Blanco setting Barrett up for that milestone goal, and not vice versa.

Barrett himself remembers his goal well, right down to the action of getting his arm across the last defender for position, but also remembers it as a typical moment for the team:

“It was hammered home to me by the coach — ‘Every time Blanco gets the ball, get on your horse…’ — It didn’t matter where he was on the field, or if it was on his right foot, or left foot, I’d get running towards goal. He’s still the best passer of the ball I’ve ever played with. That was one of those balls…”

Barrett remembers other details about the game the team hit 500 goals in, including the backdrop and the historic aura of Giants Stadium that hosted the 5-1 rout of the Red Bulls. He talks about that mark being a nice personal connection to his former club, but he quickly pulls focus to list the players alongside him in that period, with a little wistfulness about the fact that other than a U.S Open Cup in that period, a talented group had never quite fulfilled their potential in league play.

But it emphasizes the fact that it’s the teams you think about as you follow the continuum of Chicago Fire goals. Before Barrett’s version of the team hit goal 500, Lubos Reiter’s team made 400, and Peter Lowry’s team would go on to make number 600. To track that sequence is to get a time lapse glimpse of the team through the years. Iconic names mingle with names of players whose service to the club was limited to a handful of games. But it also speaks to the simple truth that if you’re in the game — if you’re wearing the shirt — you can score. Every player, every minute counts.

And over time, those moments and goals add up, until you reach a moment like the 28th minute of today’s game, when Dax McCarty distributed the ball wide for Przemyslaw Frankowski. The Polish winger paused just a beat before setting up the charging Brandt Bronico for the cutback finished by Sapong with a touch in off the back post. It was a standalone moment of importance to our season, of course, but it also had the weight of shared history behind it. Because as of today, the entire body of players who stand for Chicago Fire’s collective on field history, have reached 1000 goals. And that’s not nothing.

Landmark Goals 1-1000

The Fire’s goalscoring streak was inaugurated on a humid night in Florida on March 2, 1998, when Roman Kosecki scored the team’s first ever MLS regular season goal — assisted by Ante Razov — in the team’s first ever regular season game. Thanks to another late goal by Ritchie Kotschau, the team would leave Lockhart Stadium 2-0 winners over Miami Fusion.

Our 100th goal was scored by Josh Wolff in the team’s 55th regular season game. With the team trailing 2-0 at Dallas Burn on August 22, 1999, Wolff scored an unassisted goal in the 49th minute, to start a comeback he would cap with a 90th minute equalizer at the Cotton Bowl.

In our 109th game, Our 200th goal was scored by David Hayes, in the 3rd minute of a 3-1 win over the MetroStars at Soldier Field on June 30, 2001.

Our 300th goal was a 51st minute penalty converted by Damani Ralph, in a 3-1 win over New England Revolution at Cardinal Stadium. The game took place on a warm July 19, 2003. Game 165.

Our 400th goal, in game 234, was the team’s second goal in a wild 3-2 victory over Kansas City Wizards at Soldier Field, on August 10, 2005. It was the second of a quickfire Chicago brace to open the game, and was scored by Lubos Reiter in the 6th minute, with assists from Chris Rolfe and Thiago.

Our 500th goal was scored by Chad Barrett, with an assist from Cuauhtémoc Blanco, during a 5-1 rout of the New York Red Bulls on 25 May 25, 2008 in our 314th regular season game. It took place at Giants Stadium, and Barrett opened the scoring in just the 7th minute.

Our 600th goal was scored by Peter Lowry on October 8, 2010, in the club’s 392nd game. It was the first goal in a 2-0 victory over Columbus Crew at Toyota Park, and was scored in the 30th minute with assists by Patrick Nyarko and Steven Kinney

New York Red Bulls were the victims once again on April 7, 2013, as Maicon Santos came off the bench at Toyota Park to score two late goals — the second of which, assisted by Jeff Larentowicz and Daniel Paladini, in the 89th minute, capped a 3-0 victory in Game 468. 

In game 543, on June 3, 2015, David Accam opened the scoring against D.C. United at RFK Stadium, with assists from Quincy Amarikwa and Harry Shipp. Sadly, goal number 800 could not prevent a 3-1 loss on a tiring midweek road trip game — the first loss to come in one of these “century” games.

The Fire were back to emphatic form in chalking up goal 900 in their 616th MLS regular season game, on June 24, 2017. In the 52nd minute, Nemanja Nikolic, assisted by David Accam, would score the 3rd goal in a 4-0 rout over Orlando City at Toyota Park to bring up 900 regular season goals for the club. Accam would round out a special night with a hat trick for the team, on a night where the team matched a club record that had stood since 1998, by extending their home winning streak to seven games.

Goal 1000 was scored by CJ Sapong on May 25, 2019 in the 28th minute of a 1-1 draw with NYCFC, It came from a team move finished with a close-range finish by Sapong inside the six-yard box. Initially disallowed, the goal was the first of the team’s landmark century goals to be awarded upon video review.