Trial and Tribulations of Being a Chicago Fire Fan Dreaming Of Reaching MLS Playoffs

BRIDGEVIEW, IL - AUGUST 08: Fans of the Chicago Fire light flares in the stands during a match against the New York Red Bulls on August 8, 2010 at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Illinois. The Fire and the Red Bulls tied 0-0. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

The Labor Day weekend featured the Fire at Toyota Park on Saturday afternoon September 3, 2010 for a match up against Western Conference leaders LA Galaxy. In what was an excellent showcase for the “MLS 2.0” edition (post World Cup and new signings) the teams battled into extra time and drew one all.

The result deprived a Fire team that played well with 10 men most of the game (red card to Segaras in the 20th minute) and with their star midfielder Freddie Ljungberg out from the start from three points at home. The Fire took the lead in the 88th minute only to see LA tie the game a minute later. Another packed house at Toyota Park left disappointed but not unsatisfied. The quality of play throughout the day was top notch and featured Fire rookie goal keeper Sean Johnson stop Landon Donovan on a penalty kick. A rare feat indeed.

For Fire fans the bottom line was the one point at home after two road defeats including a heartbreaking last minute defeat a week earlier to Seattle. No matter how much the Fire’s new additions have improved the team and the insertion of Sean Johnson in the net have helped the Fire, they are still far from a playoff spot with only 10 games remaining in this season. With the top two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference beyond the reach of Chicago it comes down to the Fire reaching 8th place in the overall league standings to qualify for the post-season. As we are well aware of from last season just making the playoffs is the important thing. The MLS title will be open to any of the final eight teams and home field advantage in the early rounds does not seem critical to a Fire team that historically has played well on the road.

Currently the Fire are in 11th place overall in the MLS table. They total 25 points and Toronto, Kansas City, and San Jose are all ahead of them in the playoff race. New England is only a point behind the Fire, and Houston is a point behind the Revs with 23 points. The Fire have the advantage of games in hand over most of the MLS field having played only 20 games on the season. Most notably San Jose however have only played 20 games. Games in hand only become an edge if you win them and nothing about the Fire’s ultimate performance the last few weeks would make wins expected.

Please Fire fans don’t get me wrong, but with only one point in the last 3 games we can expect nothing from this team no matter how improved. I have been greatly impressed by the improved quality of the Fire with the recent signings as well as the entire league since the new signings have come on board. Yet the bottom line for the Fire right now is winning games and making the playoffs and the likes of Castillo and Ljungberg have not made the bottom line look any better. Sellout crowds (at least on the weekends) come to see the home team win and that is just not happening. That does not mean I am discontented nor should other fans be. In fact I am ready to do the early renewal plan for my season tickets for next year and encourage all MLS fans to get their tickets early for the 2011 season which should be a memorable season with new teams in the league.

Taking each game one at a time is an old sports adage and clearly is true for the Fire. They have a must win home game this very week against Toronto. Three points have to be earned. This will be no easy feat with steady midfielder Marco Pappa not expected to play and defender Gonzalo Segares lost due to a red card in the Galaxy game. Freddie Ljungberg should be back to assume his midfield role and Nery Castillo appears finally to be ready to play a full game for the Fire after his late July signing. Sean Johnson continues to improve in goal and can certainly claim a confidence boost from his penalty kick stop on Landon Donovan. Having to win midweek and then travel to play the Union on the weekend is a tall order and the Fire have to fill it. It would be a shame if Brian McBride’s final season ended with his hometown team being on the sidelines come playoff time.

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19 Responses to Trial and Tribulations of Being a Chicago Fire Fan Dreaming Of Reaching MLS Playoffs

  1. Roger says:

    The MLS will never reach global prominance until they raise the starting salaries. I mean really, $40,000 for a rookie? The guy can’t even go out and have a beer for fear of not making rent. The NCAA has a stable of top talent every year. What would you rather do? Make the same as some clown at Kinkos while risking your body or start a standard career after graduation?

    • njndirish says:

      I never knew MLS was the only soccer league in the world.

      • Cookies2 says:

        I agree with Roger.

        • Charles says:

          I don’t disagree with Roger, I actually agree with him, although the league is getting pretty darn good….. but you are only looking at one side of the equation. Please see “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” thread for the other side of the story.

          Use the Fire as a reference point, then tell me how much you pay a no name rookie. I will let you know how quickly you go bankrupt based on your answer.

          • Cookiesdelight says:

            Roger the truth is you could raise the pay. The current level of play is rather boring and juvenile, which is the result of low talent. The MLS needs better players and the U.S. has them.

            BTW Charles what qualifications do you have to make such a silly statement, “Use the Fire as a reference point, then tell me how much you pay a no name rookie. I will let you know how quickly you go bankrupt based on your answer.”

          • Charles says:

            Same qualifications as you calling the statement silly.
            it is my opinion based on looking at very fews fans attending the games and very few watching on TV.

          • Charles you seem like a nice person.

            However keep in mind McBride will be gone next year. Brown, Conde will likely go as well.

            It is only a matter of time before Nyarko bails to Europe.

            The game last night only exemplifies my position.

            Give me the top players from the 2010 class of the NCAA and I bet I can beat most of the MLS teams.

          • Charles says:

            So we partially agree then, I am very high on the guys coming out of college.
            But the MLS still can NOT pay huge money for those guys, as they dont make huge money. outside of a few teams.

            I am guessing, but say the avg ticket is $15 to a Fire game, they sell 15k a game x 15 games = $3.4 million or 170k for a 20 person team.
            obviously other revs and obviously other expenses, but you are not in danger of paying every player more than $40k. especially when guys that you love, the studs, straight out of college ( Zakuani for my team ) are making $400k.

  2. Charles says:

    “star mid­fielder Fred­die Ljung­berg out”

    That is THE reason that LA didn’t score aside from one late goal. Put him back in the line up and you end up where Seattle was at the beginning of the season….giving up a lot of goals….and out of the playoff picture.

  3. SSReporters says:

    Chicago will make it. Once you beat us Wednesday we won’t factor and you’ll gain 3 points with 2 games in hand.

  4. njndirish says:

    I always hope Chicago makes the play-offs, they bring atmosphere.

  5. jmb321 says:

    “The qual­ity of play through­out the day was top notch…” Did you go to the same game I did? Play was mind-numbingly boring with both sides offering up unforced errors on a regular basis & no buildup in the midfield. Horrible!!

  6. CoconutMonkey says:

    Not a bad result when you consider that we played with 10 men for 70 minutes.

    I’m really looking forward to the Toronto match. We really need those 3 points, especially from them.

  7. eplnfl says:


    On a normal night or day true. 10 men down and other players missing yes it was a good result but when your looking up at four other teams just to make the playoffs it was costly. The decision to load up on players the second half of the season has become a costly one for the Fire.

  8. tymbark75 says:

    fire and mls will never be a good game until they stop playing for a tie when they the mls starts playing to win then it will be a good game

  9. eplnfl says:


    In the past we had a coach that clearly played for a tie. This year I believe that game situations have lead to a need to get a draw but Saturday once we where ahead was not the case clearly.

  10. Chicago has a good chance in going to the playoffs this year…good luck to them…

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