Who will be the Fire's go-to-guy this season? | (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
There can be little denying that soccer is as much of a team sport as any, but often times a single player can help define a season for a club. If you look back to 2000, Mamadou Diallo was that factor for the Tampa Bay Mutiny as the Senegalese striker notched an outstanding 26 goals for the now defunct franchise. We’ve also seen it with Landon Donovan in 2008, who scored 20 goals in 25 games in a season that somehow still resulted in the LA Galaxy still missing out on the MLS playoffs. Jeff Cunningham provided a similar story for FC Dallas in 2009 by scoring for fun but still seeing his side miss out on the postseason.
In similar fashion, Houston Dynamo reject Dominic Oduro was absolutely stellar for the Chicago Fire last season in his debut season for the men in red. The Ghanaian scored 12 goals as he and the rest of the team fell agonizingly short of a playoff spot. Regardless, his team MVP honors and impressive play throughout the season were a huge reason for the team’s success both in the US Open Cup and in the latter stages of the MLS season.
So who will step up and make their mark this year for the Fire? Continue reading
“I didn’t know that one day I’d get a chance to play with the Fire. I’m just happy to be the winner out of everyone. Every player’s dream is to be a professional with the team they loved and rooted for when they were young. I’m really excited for the opportunity to join the team for preseason.” - Pareskevas Pantazopoulos, winner of the Fire’s annual open tryout (1/19)
“It’s been a dream ever since I was young to be a professional soccer player. I’m super excited and super happy to be with the Fire.” – Orr Barouch on signing with the Chicago Fire (3/14)
“It was absolutely important to get the win at home. Winning here is one of the things we are focused on changing. We got the best fan base in the league and we need to do our part in and be responsible for our actions on the field. We hope to create an environment and mentality that refuse to lose.” – Logan Pause after the Fire’s 3-2 win over Sporting Kansas City in its home opener (3/26)
“I was very, very excited. And when that happens, you don’t really think. You’re kind of just having fun and that’s what I was doing.” – Jalil Anibaba after his “guise through the smoke” stunned Colorado in a USOC play-in match. (3/31) Continue reading
On June 30th – after week 17 of the MLS season – I published the mid-term report card for the Chicago Fire. It’s amazing how much has changed since then both in terms of player and team performances. After starting the second half of the season off with four draws and three defeats, the Fire picked up 22 points from a possible 30 in the last ten matches of the season to miss out on a playoff spot by a mere four points. The Fire improved drastically across all areas of the pitch during the final stages of the season, although there were still those who fell out favor in the first team.
Here is the final report card for each Chicago Fire player for the 2011 season. Feel free to let me know if you agree or disagree with certain grades in the comment’s section. Continue reading
Dominic Oduro scored his 7th career US Open Cup goal vs. Richmond to secure the Fire's place in the final vs. Seattle
Big matches make big players. And there may be no bigger stage for a Chicago Fire player this season than the US Open Cup Final to step up and make themselves a hero. Frank Klopas wrote his name into Chicago Fire folklore in 1998 with his extra-time match winning goal in the Fire’s inaugural season (and now has the chance to bring more glory to his name and the club as a coach) while Damani Ralph capped off a memorable season in 2003 with the only goal of the game in the final against the MetroStars. Now, eight years on from that final, and five years after Chicago’s most recent cup triumph, the stage is set for another Fire player to step up and help the team achieve its ultimate goal this season. Continue reading
Who can ever forget where it all began? It may have been 13 long years ago from now, but Frank Klopas’ overtime winning goal in the 1998 US Open Cup Final against Columbus was the start of a legacy for both the club and himself in this competition. The Fire ran out 2-1 winners that day and 13 years later, the man who helped the Chicago Fire win its first US Open Cup title is seeking to help the team win its record fifth title in Seattle on Tuesday night. Here, we take the chance to revisit the highlights of that incredible match in 1998 and eagerly look forward to what will hopefully be another memorable cup final. Stay tuned for more coverage and build-up to the US Open Cup Final…