Chicago Fire Soccer Club

Chicago Fire Soccer Club
Chicago Fire
Chicago Fire Soccer Club.svg
Full name Chicago Fire Soccer Club
Nickname(s) The Fire, La Maquina Roja,
Men in Red, CF97,
Strażacy (Firemen)
Founded 1997
Stadium Toyota Park
Bridgeview, Illinois
(Capacity: 22,000 [1])
Chairman United States Andrew Hauptman
Head Coach United States Frank Klopas
League Major League Soccer
2011 Eastern Conference: 6th
Overall: 11th
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Website Club home page
Home colors
Away colors
Current season

Chicago Fire Soccer Club is an American professional soccer club based in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, Illinois. The team competes in Major League Soccer (MLS), the top soccer league in the United States and Canada. The organization is named for the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, and was founded on October 8, 1997; the event's 126th anniversary.

In their first league season in 1998, the Fire won the MLS Cup as well as the U.S. Open Cup (the "double"). They have also won U.S. Open Cups in 2000, 2003, and 2006; in addition to the 2003 MLS Supporters' Shield.

The Fire maintain an extensive development system, consisting of the Chicago Fire Premier (Premier Development League and Super-20 League teams), the Chicago Fire NPSL team, the Chicago Fire Development Academy, and the Chicago Fire Juniors youth organization. They also operate the Chicago Fire Foundation, the team's community-based charitable division.

Toyota Park is the Fire's home stadium. They are currently coached by Frank Klopas.




Founded on October 8, 1997, the club was originally based at Soldier Field. Since 2006, they reside in their own stadium, Toyota Park at 71st and Harlem Avenue. The owners of the Fire are Andell Holdings, who purchased the club in 2007. Andell Holdings director Andrew Hauptman acts as club chairman, while the current president is Julian Posada. The Fire 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. 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.

Many notable players have worn the Fire shirt, including U.S. internationals Chris Armas, Carlos Bocanegra, Frank Klopas, DaMarcus Beasley, Brian McBride, Tony Sanneh, Josh Wolff and Eric Wynalda. Some of the club's other notable American professional players include C.J. Brown, Cory Gibbs, Jesse Marsch, Ante Razov, Chris Rolfe, and Zach Thornton. The Fire also has a reputation for importing international talent, from established veterans like Piotr Nowak, Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Tomasz Frankowski, Lubos Kubik and Hristo Stoichkov; in addition to younger players such as Patrick Nyarko, Marco Pappa, Damani Ralph and Bakary Soumare.

Club foundation and initial success

Founded in 1997 at Navy Pier, on the anniversary of the Great Fire, the Fire immediately tapped into the diverse ethnic makeup of the city. The team brought in Polish players Piotr Nowak, Jerzy Podbrozny, and Roman Kosecki; the Mexican Jorge Campos; and the Czech Lubos Kubik. While all showed their talent while playing for Chicago that first year, American players (Zach Thornton, Chris Armas, C.J. Brown) proved most integral to the Fire's continued success. Under the club's first head coach, Bob Bradley – and against all expectation – the team completed the double in its first competitive year, beating D.C. United in the 1998 MLS Cup Final, and defeating the Columbus Crew in Chicago to win the 1998 U.S. Open Cup a week later.

The team's momentum continued, reaching the 2000 MLS Cup final (losing to Kansas City) and winning the 2000 U.S. Open Cup. Internationally experienced players such as Hristo Stoitchkov joined the Fire, while young American talents such as DaMarcus Beasley developed. The Fire quickly became cemented as one of the league's preeminent teams.

Nomadic times

With Soldier Field undergoing massive renovations, the Fire moved to the western Chicago suburb of Naperville, Illinois in 2002. That same year, Bob Bradley abruptly departed the team to lead the MetroStars, from his home state of New Jersey. The Fire then selected the U.S. men's national team's top assistant, Dave Sarachan, to assume the vacant post.

Chicago qualified for the league final while also capturing the Supporters' Shield and 2003 U.S. Open Cup along the way. The team returned to Chicago and the renovated Soldier Field midway through the 2003 season.

After that season, longtime captain Piotr Nowak retired to take a position in the front office. He departed a year later to become manager of D.C. United. In this period new talent emerged, including Jamaican striker Damani Ralph. Still, stagnating performances and the building strength of the Eastern Conference made Chicago's league position ever more tenuous. In 2004, the team missed the league playoffs for the first time in their history.

Turmoil, and a permanent home

The 2005 season began with the unexpected dismissal of popular club president Peter Wilt by then-owners AEG, a move decried by fans, many players, and club staff.[2] This came as a shock, given his brokering of a $100m deal to build the Fire a stadium in the collar suburb of Bridgeview. He was immediately replaced by Metrostars executive John Guppy.

Competitively, the season was most notable for the blockbuster visit of Milan from Italy's Serie A, and the surprising 4–0 away defeat of D.C. United in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

2006 arrived, and the Fire moved from Soldier Field into its new stadium in Bridgeview, on the southwest side of Chicago: Toyota Park, located at the corner of 71st Street and Harlem Avenue. In its first season, it played host to an unspectacular league campaign; but victory in the 2006 U.S. Open Cup marked a continuation of the club's successes and promise for the future.

The anxiety to win another league title continued to grow, however. Sarachan entered 2007 (his fifth season in charge) under intense pressure from fans and the administration to produce a league championship. Tension mounted further on April 3, 2007, when the Fire signed Mexico and América star Cuauhtémoc Blanco to a Designated Player contract. After a perfect three matches to open the year, they won only one of their next eight, and Sarachan was dismissed. Following a brief search, Millionarios manager Juan Carlos Osorio was named the club's third head coach.

The Hauptman era

A home game at Toyota Park during 2007 season

More change came soon afterward. 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 the Chicago Fire Soccer Club and Toyota Park. Reports estimated the purchase price to be upwards of $35 million.[3]

On the field, behind Blanco and Wilman Conde, Osorio's central defender at Millionarios, the Fire went on an extended unbeaten run to close the season, easily qualifying for the playoffs but were defeated at New England in the Eastern Conference Final. On December 10, 2007, the Fire announced Osorio's resignation. He was named manager of the New York Red Bulls eight days later. Hauptman filed tampering charges with the league in protest, and the Fire were compensated by the Red Bulls with cash and draft picks.[4]

Changes came quickly in Osorio's wake. On January 17, 2008, former Fire star Frank Klopas was named Technical Director in charge of player personnel, and longtime Fire assistant Denis Hamlett was appointed manager. While the Fire struggled at home in 2008 the team found unusual success on the road, gathering 22 out of a possible 45 away points. Momentum grew with the long-anticipated signing of Chicago native Brian McBride on a free transfer in July 2008. After disposing of the Red Bulls 5–2 in the season's final game, they decisively conquered New England in the first round of the playoffs with a 3–0 victory at home. This was Chicago's first playoff advancement over the Revolution in four consecutive seasons. But triumph only lasted for a week, as they again missed the league final with their 2–1 Eastern Conference Final loss to eventual champion Columbus.

The 2009 season saw few alterations to the previous year's roster. The story of the season was much the same, as continued poor home form offset excellent performances away from Toyota Park. This led to a second place Eastern Conference finish behind Columbus. Despite this, Real Salt Lake managed to upset the Crew in the quarterfinals, meaning Chicago would host the semifinal for the first time in six years. Chicago's nearly flawless home playoff history meant little in the end, as they lost to Salt Lake 5–3 on penalties after 120 scoreless minutes. Shortly thereafter, manager Denis Hamlett was dismissed.[5]

Recent struggles

Leading up to 2010, Chicago hired Carlos de los Cobos as head coach, previously manager of El Salvador.[6] Cuauhtémoc Blanco, Chris Rolfe and Gonzalo Segares all departed. More changes came in the summer transfer window with the trade of Justin Mapp to Philadelphia, the acquisition of Mexican international striker Nery Castillo, and the trade for former Swedish international midfielder Fredrik Ljungberg. Defender Gonzalo Segares returned to the Fire, leaving Apollon Limassol after only six months away. Despite these reinforcements, the Fire failed to qualify for the playoffs for only the second time in club history. Former US international Brian McBride and club original C.J. Brown retired at season's end, followed closely by the departures of Wilman Conde, Ljungberg, and Castillo.

2011 began much in the way of 2010, with foundering performances both home and away. After nine winless matches, Carlos de los Cobos was let go on May 30.[7] Technical Director Frank Klopas was named interim head coach. Behind summer reinforcements Pavel Pardo and Sebastián Grazzini, as well as forward Dominic Oduro's 12 goals after being acquired in a trade from Houston, the Fire qualified for the US Open Cup Final (lost at Seattle) and narrowly missed making the playoffs after gaining 24 points in their last 12 league matches.

After the season's conclusion, Klopas was given the permanent manager job on November 3.[8]

Colors and badge

Chicago Fire alternate logo (1998–2006)

The official club colors are red and white. Over its history, the Fire have also employed navy blue, sky blue, and black as alternate colors.

The Chicago Fire logo is derived from the standard shape of a fire department's crest (also shown by the Chicago Fire Department), also known as a Florian's cross. This style was chosen by the original general manager, Peter Wilt, to establish a timeless image evocative of both classic American sports (as in the logos of the NHL Original Six) and the traditions of European soccer.

The logo features a stylized 'C' at its heart (representing Chicago), similar to the logos of the Bears and Cubs. The six points in a ring around the center allude to the six-pointed stars in the Municipal Flag of Chicago, specifically the star commemorating the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.

Nike, the Fire's original equipment supplier, intended for the team to be named the Chicago Rhythm. The Rhythm identity featured a turquoise, black and green color scheme, and a logo adorned with a cobra. Team officials ignored Nike's work, and privately developed the Fire identity with the help of Adrenalin, Inc., a well known sports-specific branding agency.[9]

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. In the first year, the home jersey was red and white with a silver "FIRE" on the stripe; while the away shirts were white and black in the same style. The jersey has remained remarkably constant ever since, continually maintaining the same format of an all-red shirt with a white horizontal chest stripe, even though changes in equipment sponsor (from Nike, to Puma, and currently adidas). Conversely, the Fire's secondary shirts have changed much over the years from white with black, to white with navy, to white with red, and the all-white style currently used. Third shirts have often been yellow (for the Chicago Sting, later for the partnership with Morelia. A popular light blue third shirt was worn in 2005, based on the Municipal Flag of Chicago but was discontinued during the sponsorship change to Adidas the next year.

The club and their fans make frequent use of the symbols of Chicago, as a show of civic pride. Most prominent are the six-pointed Chicago stars, but the light blue color associated with the city, the municipal device, and the city skyline appear regularly on materials produced by the club and its fans. The municipal flag of Chicago is also favored by fans of the club and often seen at the stadium, in a manner akin to the use of the flag of Catalonia for FC Barcelona fans, but without a nationalist subtext.

Kit manufacturers

Years Kit Supplier
1998–2002 Nike
2003–2005 Puma
2006–present Adidas


Toyota Park, Chicago Fire's home stadium since 2006

Chicago plays its home games at Toyota Park in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, Illinois. The soccer-specific stadium opened on June 11, 2006 and was developed at a cost of around $100 million.

For its first years in the league the Fire played at Soldier Field, the 61,500-capacity home of the Chicago Bears of the NFL and one of the main venues of the 1994 FIFA World Cup. While that stadium was undergoing a $632 million renovation, the Fire played at Cardinal Stadium in Naperville, Illinois, on the outskirts of the Chicago metropolitan area. They returned to Soldier Field toward the end of 2003, remaining there through the end of 2005.

Home stadiums

Other stadiums

Club culture


"Section 8", the supporters area at Toyota Park

There is a noteworthy fan culture for the Fire, existing from the date the club was founded, and building on an enthusiasm throughout Chicago sports. At matches, supporters and ultras groups occupy a standing area directly behind the north goal, in the Harlem End of Toyota Park. This area is referred to as Section 8, originating from the numbering of the corresponding section at Soldier Field and the American military designation of mentally unfit soldiers.[citation needed] Section 8 Chicago, the Independent Supporters' Association for the Fire, oversees the activities of these numerous groups. While incorporating a worldwide variety of styles with a Chicago bent, groups as part of Section 8 generally fall under the ultras designation. Additionally, an associated spinoff group called "Sector Latino" congregates in Section 101 at the stadium's South end.

The Section 8 Chicago ISA, an umbrella organization for all Fire fans, is a non-profit organization recognized by the state of Illinois.

Match atmosphere is known for organized displays of stadium-wide support, particularly for matches of prime competitive importance. Call-and-response cheering amongst the crowd is commonplace. Fans at Toyota Park for Fire matches periodically choreograph tifo presentations both to show their pride and inspire the players on the field. Toyota Park remains one of the few American environments to conduct such fan-driven presentations on a large scale.

Club system

  • Chicago Fire — MLS (First Team)
  • Chicago Fire Premier — USL Premier Development League (4th division) (U20 and U23 Collegiate Amateur Select Teams)
  • Chicago Fire NPSL — similar to the PDL team, playing in the National Premier Soccer League
  • Chicago Fire Academy — U16 & U18 Teams in U.S. Soccer Development Academy; Statewide (U13 to U18 Youth Academy Teams)
  • Chicago Fire Juniors — Local (U8 to U23 Youth Club) with three Chicago branches; satellite clubs in Indiana, Florida, Michigan, Louisiana, and Mississippi.


Matches are televised locally by Comcast SportsNet Chicago and WPWR-TV. Announcers are Dan Kelly and former Fire midfielder Evan Whitfield. Select matches are also nationally broadcast on ESPN, Fox Soccer Channel, or Telefutura via the league's television agreements.

Players and staff

Current roster

Last updated on October 27, 2011. Source: Chicago Fire Official Roster
Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
1 United States GK Jon Conway
3 United States DF Dan Gargan
4 United States DF Kwame Watson-Siriboe
5 United States DF Cory Gibbs
6 United States DF Jalil Anibaba
8 Ghana FW Dominic Oduro
9 Bosnia and Herzegovina MF Baggio Husidić
10 Argentina MF Sebastián Grazzini
11 United States MF Daniel Paladini
12 United States MF Logan Pause (captain)
13 Costa Rica DF Gonzalo Segares
14 Ghana FW Patrick Nyarko
15 Israel FW Orr Barouch (on loan from Tigres)
16 Guatemala MF Marco Pappa
17 Mexico MF Pável Pardo
No. Position Player
18 United States DF Mike Banner
19 United States MF Corben Bone
21 United States MF Michael Videira
23 Croatia DF Josip Mikulić
24 Greece DF Pari Pantazopoulos
25 United States GK Sean Johnson
27 United States MF Victor Pineda
28 United States DF Steven Kinney
29 Colombia FW Cristian Nazarit
30 United States GK Alec Dufty
88 United States FW Gabriel Ferrari
89 Colombia DF Yamith Cuesta
94 United States FW Kellen Gulley
99 Uruguay FW Diego Cháves

Reserve team players

This list shows players who have played for the team in official 2011 MLS Reserve Division games, but are not part of the senior roster.[10]

Note: Flags indicate national team as has been defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
United States DF Derrick Peters
United States DF Nick Skrip
United States MF Peter Beasley
United States MF Drew Connor
No. Position Player
India MF Jaspal Mann
Argentina MF Martin Rivas
United States MF Joel Salmeron

Notable former players

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.

  • See also All-time Chicago Fire roster

Head coaches

Club Presidents

  • Robert Sanderman (1997-00)
  • Peter Wilt (2001–05)
  • John Guppy (2005–08)
  • Javier León (2008), (2010) (both interim)
  • Dave Greeley (2008–10)
  • Julian Posada (2010–)

General Managers

Technical Directors

Directors of Player Personnel

Assistant Coaches

Team Physicians

  • Preston Wolin (1998–2008)
  • Gilberto Muñoz (1999–)

Ring of Fire

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.

There were no inductees in 2008, 2010, or 2011. In 2008, the members voted to honor two recently deceased fans (supporter leaders Dan Parry and Brandon Kitchens) but were overruled by club Chairman Andrew Hauptman.[11] C.J. Brown was expected to be honored in 2011, but a new rule was established that inductees must have been away from the club for at least a calendar year.[12]




  • MLS Central Division
    • Winners (Regular Season) (2): 2000, 2001



Season Regular Season Playoffs U.S. Open Cup CONCACAF
1998 2nd, West Champions Champions Did not qualify
1999 3rd, West Quarter-Finals Round of 16 3rd Place
2000 1st, Central Final Champions Did not qualify
2001 1st, Central Semi-Finals Semi-Finals Not held
2002 3rd, East Quarter-Finals Round of 16 Quarter-Finals
2003 1st, East* Final Champions Did not qualify
2004 5th, East Did not qualify Final Semi-Finals
2005 3rd, East Semi-Finals Semi-Finals Did not qualify
2006 3rd, East Quarter-Finals Champions Did not qualify
2007 4th, East Semi-Finals Round of 16 Did not qualify
2008 2nd, East Semi-Finals Quarter-Finals Did not qualify
2009 2nd, East Semi-Finals Round of 16 Did not qualify
2010 4th, East Did not qualify Round of 16 Did not qualify
2011 6th, East Did not qualify Final Did not qualify

* Won MLS Supporters' Shield

Club records

MLS regular season only, through 2011

  • All-Time regular season record: 185–146–98

International tournaments

  • 2011 World Football Challenge
Group Stage v. England Manchester United -- 1:3

Team awards

Year Team MVP Golden Boot* Defender of the Year
Winner Goals
1998 Poland Piotr Nowak United States Ante Razov 10 Czech Republic Luboš Kubík
1999 Czech Republic Luboš Kubík United States Ante Razov 14 Czech Republic Luboš Kubík
2000 Poland Piotr Nowak United States Ante Razov 18 United States Carlos Bocanegra
2001 Poland Piotr Nowak United States Eric Wynalda 10 United States Zach Thornton
2002 United States Zach Thornton United States Ante Razov 14 United States Zach Thornton
2003 United States Chris Armas United States Ante Razov 14 United States Carlos Bocanegra
2004 United States Henry Ring Jamaica Damani Ralph 11 United States Jim Curtin
2005 Honduras Ivan Guerrero United States Chris Rolfe 8 Honduras Ivan Guerrero
2006 Costa Rica Andy Herron Costa Rica Andy Herron 9 United States CJ Brown
2007 Mexico Cuauhtémoc Blanco United States Chad Barrett 7 Costa Rica Gonzalo Segares
2008 United States Jon Busch United States Chris Rolfe 9 Mali Bakary Soumare
2009 United States Brian McBride United States Brian McBride 7 Colombia Wilman Conde
2010 United States Logan Pause Guatemala Marco Pappa 7 United States CJ Brown
2011 Ghana Dominic Oduro Ghana Dominic Oduro 12 United States Cory Gibbs


*Golden Boot is the team leader in goals (regular season games only).

Average attendance

regular season/playoffs

  • 1998: 17,887/22,677
  • 1999: 16,016/8,197
  • 2000: 13,387/8,431
  • 2001: 16,388/11,239
  • 2002: 12,922/9,434
  • 2003: 14,005/14,961
  • 2004: 17,153/missed playoffs
  • 2005: 17,238/11,493
  • 2006: 14,088/10,217
  • 2007: 16,490/17,834
  • 2008: 17,034/17,312
  • 2009: 14,689/21,626
  • 2010: 15,814/missed playoffs
  • 2011: 14,553/missed playoffs


External links

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  • Chicago Fire (soccer) — Infobox Football club clubname = Chicago Fire current = Chicago Fire Season 2008 fullname = Chicago Fire Soccer Club nickname = Fire La Maquina Roja, Men in Red, CF97, Strażacy (Firemen), Die Roten (The Reds) shortname = founded = 1997 dissolved …   Wikipedia

  • Chicago Fire — Fire de Chicago Fire de Chicago Club fondé le 8 octobre 1 …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Chicago Fire NPSL — Full name Chicago Fire NPSL Nickname(s) Fire Founded 2007 …   Wikipedia

  • Chicago Fire — Voller Name Chicago Fire Soccer Club Ort Bridgeview, IL …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Chicago Fire — Nombre completo Chicago Fire Soccer Club Apodo(s) The Fire, La Maquina Roja Men in Red, CF97,Strażacy (Firemen) Fundación 8 de octubre de 1997 (14 años) …   Wikipedia Español

  • Chicago Fire — may refer to: Great Chicago Fire, the fire that burned much of Chicago in 1871 Chicago Fire Soccer Club, a Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire Premier, part of the development system for the Chicago Fire Major League Soccer club Chicago Fire… …   Wikipedia

  • Chicago Fire Juniors — The Chicago Fire Juniors are the youth club affiliate of the Chicago Fire professional soccer club with branches in Chicago, NW Indiana, West Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida. Established in 2004 as the official youth soccer club of… …   Wikipedia

  • Chicago Fire Premier — Full name Chicago Fire Premier Nickname(s) CFP Founded 2001 Stadium …   Wikipedia

  • 2008 Chicago Fire season — Chicago Fire S.C. 2008 season Chairman Andrew Hauptman Manager …   Wikipedia

  • Chicago Fire (American football) — For the football (soccer) club with the same name, see Chicago Fire S.C.. Chicago Fire Founded October 1973 Folded January 1975 Based in Chicago …   Wikipedia

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