|Current:||Chicago Fire Season 2008|
|Fullname:||Chicago Fire Soccer Club|
La Maquina Roja,
Men in Red, CF97,
|Ceo:||Javier León (interim)|
|League:||Major League Soccer|
|Position:||Eastern Conference: 2nd|
Playoffs: Conference Finals
|Firstgame:||Chicago Fire 2 - 0 Miami Fusion|
(Lockhart Stadium; March 21, 1998)
|Largestwin:||7 - 0 vs Kansas City|
(Arrowhead Stadium; July 4, 2001)
|Worstdefeat:||1 - 5 vs NE Revs|
(Gillette Stadium; August 30, 2003)
2 - 6 vs Columbus Crew
(Crew Stadium; October 26, 2003)
|Topscorer:||Ante Razov (76)|
|Fansgroup:||Section 8 Chicago|
Barn Burners 1871,
Fire Ultras '98,
The Last Ward,
Mike Ditka Street Crew,
|Honours:||MLS Cup (1)|
Supporters' Shield (1)
U.S. Open Cup (4)
Chicago Fire Soccer Club is a professional soccer club based in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, Illinois. Founded October 8, 1997 on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871; the Fire participates in Major League Soccer. In 1998, their first league season, the Fire won the MLS Cup as well as the U.S. Open Cup (the "double"). They have also won the 2000, 2003, and 2006 U.S. Open Cup.
There is a complete club developmental system consisting of Chicago Fire Premier (a Premier Development League team) the Chicago Fire Youth Academy, and the Chicago Fire Juniors youth teams. A charitable community organization, the FireWorks for Kids Foundation, is also administered by the Fire.
The official club colors are red and white. Over its history, the Fire have also employed navy blue, sky blue, and black as alternate or accent colors.
The club was founded on October 8, 1997. Originally based at Soldier Field, they now have their own stadium, Toyota Park at 71st and Harlem Avenue. The owners of the Fire are Andell Holdings, who purchased the club in 2007. Andrew Hauptman, director of Andell Holdings, acts as chairman while the current president is Dave Greeley. The club are historically most successful in the U.S. Open Cup; winning championships in 1998, 2000, 2003, and 2006. Chicago's chief rivals are the New England Revolution and FC Dallas. The Fire keeps a close connection with the Chicago Sting (its predecessor team in the NASL) by holding frequent commemorative events, reunions, and wearing Sting-inspired shirts.
A number of famous players wore the Fire shirt, including U.S. internationals Chris Armas, Frank Klopas, Eric Wynalda, DaMarcus Beasley, Josh Wolff, Tony Sanneh, Carlos Bocanegra, and Justin Mapp; and other Americans like Jesse Marsch, C.J. Brown, Ante Razov, Zach Thornton, and Chris Rolfe. Chicago has also imported both established international talent such as Peter Nowak, Lubos Kubik, Hristo Stoichkov, Tomasz Frankowski, and Cuauhtémoc Blanco; and younger developmental players like Damani Ralph, Ivan Guerrero, Bakary Soumare, and Patrick Nyarko.
Founded on the anniversary of the Great Fire in a 1997 ceremony at Navy Pier, the Fire immediately tapped into Chicago's diverse ethnic makeup, bringing in Polish players Piotr Nowak, Jerzy Podbrozny, and Roman Kosecki; Mexican Jorge Campos; and Czech Lubos Kubik. While all showed their talent while playing for Chicago (Nowak in particular, the captain for 5 years), it was the young American players that proved most successful and integral to the Fire's continued success. The club, against all expectation, completed the double in its first competitive year: beating D.C. United in MLS Cup 1998 at the Rose Bowl, and a week later defeating the Columbus Crew in Chicago to win the 1998 U.S. Open Cup.
Success continued, reaching the MLS Cup 2000 (losing to Kansas City) and winning the 2000 U.S. Open Cup. Both internationally experienced players like Hristo Stoitchkov, and young American talents such as DaMarcus Beasley competed for the club's first head coach, Bob Bradley to quickly establish the Fire as one of the league's preeminent teams.
The Fire were exiled to the western Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois in 2002, while Soldier Field underwent massive renovations. That year, Bob Bradley left unexpectedly to lead the MetroStars of his home state of New Jersey. The club then selected Dave Sarachan, the U.S. men's national team's top assistant, to assume the vacant post. Returning to Soldier Field in 2003, Chicago qualified for the league final, while also capturing the Supporters' Shield and 2003 U.S. Open Cup along the way. Longtime captain Piotr Nowak retired to take a position in the front office, only to depart a year later to become D.C. United manager. New talents emerged in this period, including Jamaican striker Damani Ralph and Justin Mapp. The growing strength of the Eastern Conference made Chicago's league position ever more tenuous, and in 2004 they missed the league playoffs for the first time in their history.
The 2005 season began abruptly with the unexpected dismissal of popular club president Peter Wilt by then-owners AEG despite the brokering of a $100m stadium deal in Bridgeview. He was immediately replaced by Metrostars executive John Guppy; a move decried by fans, many players, and club staff.  The year was notable for the blockbuster visit of Milan from Italy's Serie A and the shocking 4-0 away defeat of D.C. United in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
In 2006 the Fire moved from Soldier Field into its own $100m stadium on the southwest side of Chicago: Toyota Park in Bridgeview, at the corner of 71st Street and Harlem Avenue. The first season saw an unspectacular league campaign, but won the 2006 U.S. Open Cup to continue their cup success.
However, the anxiety to win another league title continued to grow. Sarachan entered 2007, his fifth season in charge, under intense pressure from fans and the club to produce a league championship. It mounted further on April 3, 2007, when the Fire signed Mexico and América star Cuauhtémoc Blanco to a Designated Player contract. After a promising start, winning their first three, they won only one of their next eight resulting in Sarachan's dismissal. After a brief search, Millionarios manager Juan Carlos Osorio was named the club's third head coach.
On September 6, 2007, Andell Holdings, a Los Angeles-based private investment firm controlled by Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Hauptman, acquired AEG's interests in both Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Toyota Park. While not officially disclosed, reports estimated the purchase price to be upwards of $35 million.  Behind Blanco and Wilman Conde, Osorio's central defender at Millionarios, the Fire went on an extended unbeaten run to close the season. While qualifying for the playoffs they again fell to New England, in the Eastern Conference Final at Gillette Stadium.
The club announced the resignation of Juan Carlos Osorio not long afterward on December 10, 2007. Osorio was named manager of the New York Red Bulls eight days later. While the Fire were compensated by the Red Bulls with draft picks and cash for Osorio's hiring, Chairman Andrew Hauptman filed tampering charges with the league in protest. 
Changes came quickly in Osorio's wake that offseason. On January 17, 2008, former Fire star Frank Klopas was named Technical Director in charge of player personnel, and longtime assistant Denis Hamlett was appointed manager. Former Fire assistant and FC Dallas manager Mike Jeffries and retired Fire legend Chris Armas were hired as assistants.
In preparation for the 2008 season, Chicago signed Poland forward Tomasz Frankowski and Líder Mármol. However, the club failed to reach an agreement on a contract for both starting goalkeeper Matt Pickens who departed for Queens Park Rangers and their drafted U.S. U-23 international Dominic Cervi.
Further restructuring came on April 11, 2008 when Chairman Andrew Hauptman immediately relieved president John Guppy of his duties. It is believed the dismissal was directly due to the mishandling of Juan Carlos Osorio's departure  . Javier León was appointed interim president while a search was conducted. Dave Greeley was named the Fire's fifth club president on August 26, 2008 . Strangely, Greeley has been cited by former Fire executives as being both dismissive and insulting to the club and the sport of soccer in his previous role with the Chicago Bears .
On the field, the Fire struggled at home all year while finding unusual success on the road. In a long-anticipated move, they signed Chicago native Brian McBride on a free transfer on July , 2007; having to trade Chad Barrett to Toronto for his league rights. After disposing of the Red Bulls 5-2 in the season's final game, they conquered New England in the playoffs with an emphatic 3-0 second leg victory at Toyota Park. The triumph only lasted for a week, as they missed the league final again in their 2-1 loss to McBride's former club and eventual champion Columbus.
The Chicago Fire logo is derived from the standard style of a fire department's crest (also shown by the Chicago Fire Department). Known as a Florian's cross, the shape is often confused with the Maltese cross. Original GM Peter Wilt chose the shape in part to create an image that was both timeless (as those of the NHL Original Six) and evocative of European soccer. In the center is a stylized 'C' (representing Chicago) similar to the logos of the Bears and Cubs. The six points in a ring around the center reference the six-pointed stars in the Municipal Flag of Chicago. The four stars on the flag represent four monumental events in the history of the city -- the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the 1893 World's Fair, the 1933 World's Fair, and the Fort Dearborn Massacre.
Nike, the original club uniform supplier, wanted the team to be named Chicago Rhythm featuring a turqouise, black and green color scheme and a cobra adorned logo. Team officials ignored these wishes and developed the Fire identity.
The original Fire shirts were chosen because of their resemblance to a Chicago fireman's coat, featuring broad horizontal stripes across the torso and sleeves. The home jerseys were red and white with a "FIRE" wordmark on the front in silver. The away shirts were white and black in this same style. The home shirt remains constant since then, all-red with a white horizontal chest stripe; even though the uniform manufacturer has changed from Nike in 1998, to Puma in 2003, and then adidas in 2006. Away/secondary shirts have changed over the years from the aforementioned white with black in 1998, to white with navy, and the white with red style currently used. In 2005 a popular light blue third shirt based on the Municipal Flag of Chicago was worn but discontinued during the change in manufacturer to adidas.
As a show of pride, the club and their fans frequently use additional civic symbolism in the materials they produce. The six-pointed Chicago stars are prominently employed but the light blue color, municipal device (Y-circle), and skyline appear frequently -- on the team website or scarves and banners in the stadium. The Municipal Flag of Chicago is also favored for display by fans of the club; somewhat akin to the use of the flag of Catalonia for FC Barcelona fans -- but without the associated nationalism.
|1998-1999||All Sport (Back)|
|2008–||Best Buy (Front)|
There is a notable ultras culture for the club, a uncommon phenomenon in the United States. Ultras groups and fan clubs occupy a standing area directly behind the north goal in the Harlem End of Toyota Park (Sections 117 and 118) that is referred to as Section 8. This term originates in the numbering of their section at Soldier Field, as well as the American military designation of soldiers declared mentally unfit. Section 8 Chicago, the Independent Supporters' Association for the Fire, oversees the activities of the many groups. Though incorporating a variety of support styles from both Chicago and throughout the world, groups as part of Section 8 are allied and generally fall under the ultras designation. The Section 8 Chicago ISA is also a non-profit organization recognized by the state of Illinois.
Aside the supporters' groups, the club is well known for its stadium wide vocal and visual support, particularly for matches of great competitive importance. Call-and-response cheering amongst the crowd is commonplace. Fans at Toyota Park for Fire matches periodically engage in acts of tifo to show their pride and inspire the players on the field, one of the few American environments to do so.
This list of former players includes those who received international caps while playing for the team, made significant contributions to the team in terms of appearances or goals while playing for the team, or who made significant contributions to the sport either before they played for the team, or after they left. It is clearly not yet complete and all inclusive, and additions and refinements will continue to be made over time.
The "Ring of Fire" was established in 2003 by Chicago Fire Soccer Club and the Chicago Fire Alumni Association as permanent tribute to honor those who have made the club proud and successful over its history. Aside from the initial member Piotr Nowak, only "Ring of Fire" members can select new inductees, and no more than one can be selected any year. Names and numbers (if applicable) are prominently displayed inside Toyota Park.
In 2008, there was no inductee for the first time. The members voted to honor two recently deceased fans (supporter leaders Dan Parry and Brandon Kitchens) but were overruled by club Chairman Andrew Hauptman. 
|Year||Reg. Season||Playoffs||Open Cup||CONCACAF|
|1998||2nd, West||Champions||Champions||Did not qualify||rowspan=9||Started in 2007|
|1999||3rd, West||Quarterfinals||Round of 16||3rd place|
|2000||1st, Central||Final||Champions||Did not qualify|
|2001||1st, Central||Semifinals||Quarterfinals||Not held|
|2002||3rd, East||Quarterfinals||Round of 16||Quarterfinals|
|2003||1st, East*||Final||Champions||Did not qualify|
|2004||5th, East||Did not qualify||Final||Semifinals|
|2005||3rd, East||Semifinals||Semifinals||Did not qualify|
|2006||3rd, East||Quarterfinals||Champions||Did not qualify|
|2007||4th, East||Semifinals||Round of 16||Did not qualify||Did not participate|
|2008||2nd, East||Semifinals||Quarterfinals||Did not qualify||Did not qualify|
MLS regular season only, through 2007
The Golden Boot Winner is the leading goal scorer at the end of the season (only goals in MLS count).
See main article: List of Chicago Fire broadcasters.
Matches are televised locally by WPWR Channel 50. Announcers are Fred Huebner and Chris Doran, with Sarah Kustok and Amy Freeze alternating sideline reporting duties. Select matches are also nationally broadcast on either TeleFutura, ESPN, or Fox Soccer Channel via the league's television agreements.
On radio, the Fire have all matches broadcast in Spanish by "La Tremenda" WRTO-AM; Oscar Guzman, Adrian Camacho and Enrique Fernandez handle the announcers duties. Additionally, all matches are broadcast in Polish by WNVR with announcer Jacek Zielinski and Leszek Dorosz on commentary.