August 30, 2013 WHAT IT'S ALL ABOUT
What inspires me to cover soccer
People often ask me why exactly I cover soccer. Theyíre surprised when I say that I donít play, but that Iím a fan of the game. Sometimes, I let little things interfere with my way of thinking too, like silly editorials written by people who just donít get it. Friday when I arrived at Toyota Park, I wasnít sure how I felt about covering the Chicago Fire any more. After such an unprofessional editorial by their communications staff, did I really still want to be around?
July 23, 2011 FIRE RENEWS FAITH
A good showing vs. Man U is a positive
Saturday afternoon the Chicago Fire renewed faith Ė in the team that is. Itís been a rough season for the Fire, leaving longtime fans of the club distraught, and the players and coaches frustrated. Something had to give. Saturday, it did. The Fire went toe to toe with one of the top clubs in the world, Manchester United. That in and of itself gave Fire fans a reason to smile.
October 21, 2010 HARD TO SEE HIM GO
Brown was a true pro, on and off the pitch
Athletes like C.J. Brown are the reason many of us sports-writers pursued our careers. When I was fresh out of college, I joined the Chicago Fire as an intern. From there I learned what the club was all about. I remember meeting all these guys who blew my mind Ė Peter Nowak, Lubos Kubik, Chris Armas, etcÖ
And then there was C.J. Brown.
October 21, 2009 DOWN TO THE WIRE
Fire needs result to make the post-season
Itís down to the wire for the Chicago Fire. Thursday nightís match has switched from a season finale, honoring one of the teamís best players (Chris Armas)Ö to a must-get-result match. A win or a draw and the Fire is in the post-season. A loss, and itís the end of the road for the 2009 squad. And possibly time for some spring-cleaning a bit early.
July 4, 2009 WHERE IS EVERYBODY?
Half-Way Into MLS Season, Fire Attendance Not So Hot
I decided to take a break from Chicago for a couple of weeks and head to Seattle. I wanted to go to a city where I know people have passion for soccer. They expect and demand that a good product be put on the field every match. The stands are full of Sounders jerseys. And quite frankly, everywhere you look around Seattle, there are Sounders flags flying or stickers on cars. You gotta love that! Sunday I wandered around a packed stadium of 32,526 fans and wondered what is wrong with the Chicago market.
April 26, 2009 THE REAL DEAL
Can Fire make it to MLS Cup 2009? Perhaps.
For the past 10 years, I have seen as much, if not more, Chicago Fire soccer than your average fan. I saw a couple of games in 1998. But in summer of 1999, I became a regular in the press box. In this past decade Iíve seen it all. But I gotta tell you Ė this yearís team has something special about them. The players are the real deal and they don't give up without a fight. Does that mean theyíll be a contender at MLS Cup 2009 in Seattle? Itís possible.
Marech 19, 2009 SEATTLE DOES IT RIGHT
Opening night showcases a true soccer town
Seattle fans have it right, hands down. Actually, the city of Seattle has it right. Wear your pride on your sleeve, or around your neck. Turn the city blue and green. Give a new team the welcome it deserves. And more importantly Ė Show your passion.
May 2, 2008 ONE MONTH DOWN
April was a busy month on and off the field for the Fire
Well folks, one month of the Chicago Fire season is over. So what do you all think? Personally, Iíve been speechless at times both positively and negatively. Theyíve been fun to watch at times, and aggravating at others. But things are changing on and off the field. The Denis Hamlett era is officially underway and the John Guppy era is no more. Thatís a lot for one month.
March 13, 2008 JUST FOR KICKS
A Look Back And A Look Ahead
How many out there are wondering what the 2008 season will bring for the Chicago Fire? I know I am. After 2007Ö this should be a rather tame year. Letís take a look back, just for kicks.
Jan. 10, 2008 COME ON NOW...
Somebody, Anybody Name a Coach
Remember the glory days? The days when the Fire was unstoppable. The team was looked to as a model for all teams in the league. On and off the field, everything ran smoothly. And if it didnít, it still had that appearance. They won the double their first season out. Everyone hoped expansion could be that easy.
Well that was then. And this is now.
Nov. 13, 2007 A TRUE INSPIRATION
Armas Inspired More Than Just Teammates
April 4, 1998, I was there. I sat in a seat at Soldier Field, FREEZING, but watching the inaugural Chicago Fire home game. It was history. And I was there. I remember looking through the program and seeing all the new faces and Chris Armas stuck out. I decided on that night that he was my favorite Fire player. I watched him play and was impressed with everything. He was truly a fun player to watch.
August 30, 2007 ON THE BANDWAGON
Blanco Has Won Me Over
I hate to admit itÖ but Iíve hopped on the Cuauhtemoc Blanco bandwagon. While I have the utmost respect for him as a player, I had no idea what he would bring to the Fire. What heís brought is a spark that has been missing. In his five MLS games heís tallied two goals and four assists. In his Fire debut, he scored the lone goal in a 1-1 draw vs. Celtic. Blanco is the real deal.
July 21, 2007 WHAT'S GOING ON?
Becks and Blanco Arrive to struggling Galaxy and Fire
Itís here Ė the weekend weíve all been waiting for. David Beckham and Cuauhtemoc Blanco will make their debuts this weekend (hopefully). But why are they debuting on two of the current worst teams in the league, statistically? Chicago (4-8-4, 16 pts.) is last in the Eastern Conference. Los Angeles (3-5-4, 13 pts.) is second to last in the West.
May 31, 2007 A LITTLE BETTER
Fire Shows Signs of Life
So things are shaping up for the Chicago Fire. Well kinda. I guess itís too early to make a long-term prognosis Ė but at least the defense is back.
Sunday, the defense came together and held Real Salt Lake to zero goals. Itís a huge improvement since theyíve been allowing about three a game as of late.
May 25, 2007 SERIOUSLYÖ TAKE TWO
Fire Falls Again, Whatís the Deal?
So Wednesday I asked whatís the deal with the Fireís slumping play. Itís Friday, and Iím asking again. Not only did the Fire lose againÖ but they got shut out 3-0. Iíll give credit where credit is due Ė New York is a tough team. They have some good scorers. Maybe thatís the secret.
Colorado opens its stadium at 2:30 p.m. CT today on ABC. Toronto FC kicks the ball for the first time becoming the 13th team in the league. Their stadium will open May 12th against the Chicago Fire. Those are just a couple bright points.
June 24, 2006 RELAX AND WATCH SOME GAMES
World Cup has been Exciting and It's Not Over Yet
Four years ago, I was excited. Thrilled the USA advanced. This year. I was crushed. But after the initial shock wears off you realize, thereís still soccer to watch. It would be awesome to witness it in person. But since Iím here and itís in GermanyÖ Iíll watch it on TV. Itís been a blast.
May 19, 2006 It's Time to Get Excited
Soccer is All Around Us
Calling all soccer fans. Calling all futbol fans. Itís time for us all to come together. Itís time to get excited. Summer is the time of year where soccer can be seen on fields across the country. Come rain or shine, youíll see kids and adults kicking around balls any time of the day.
April 6, 2006 PAYING TRIBUTE TO ATHLETES
Deep Thoughts By...
Imagine starting a new phase of your life. Everything is falling into place. Youíre where you want to be. Youíre working hard every day to prove yourself. And then, you hit a bump in the road Ė a season-ending injury. For the average person, an injury can be crippling. But for a professional athlete, itís devastating.
March 16, 2006 TIME FOR .... SOME SOCCER
There's More than Just NCAA Basketball
Itís an exciting time of year for sports fans. And no not because of March Madness. Although, like many people, Iím a fan of a quality college basketball game. Being born and bred a Hoosier, itís in my blood.
But people look at the bigger pictureÖ itís the time of year that soccer fans have been waiting for. The MISL season wraps up. The MLS season begins. European football wraps up. World Cup warm-ups will be in full swing. Thereís plenty of action. So donít hesitate. Tune in and catch the action.
Feb. 7, 2006 A LOOK BACK AT THE COLLEGIATE YEAR OF SOCCER
A Handful of Memborable Moments from 2005
There are so many colleges in the Chicagoland area that itís hard to pinpoint all the success. But taking a look back at 2005, here are some Division I schools that deserve mentioning. 2005 was an exciting year for college soccer in the Chicago area. 2006 will bring more excitement to the ever-improving schools. The following examples are just a few that stand out.
January 19, 2006 RIPE FOR THE PICKING
A Look at the Potential Top Picks in Friday's SuperDraft
121 players. That can be overwhelming for coaches and general managers. But tomorrow, thatís what they have to choose from. 121 players, collegiate and Under-17 from 71 schools, are available for the picking. 11:00 a.m. CT Friday, the MLS SuperDraft begins. 48 players will have their dreams come true.
Who will be the first ones picked? Itís all up in the air. But letís name a few potentials.
December 31, 2005 TOP TEN FOR 2005
A Look Back at Chicago's Year of Soccer
2005 was definitely the year of soccer for those in Chicagoland. There was always something going on, especially in summer. There was soccer from January through December. Everywhere you looked there was something going on.
2005 also proved to be a year of change for the soccer community. The Fireís front office was transformed, while construction on Bridgeview Stadium continued at a rapid rate. The Storm just missed the playoffs in its expansion season. Some of the worldís best played at Soldier Field.
It was truly a year to rememberÖ Hereís a look at the Top 10 Events for professional soccer. College soccer comes later Ė donít think I forgot.
November 14, 2005 NO EXCUSES. IT'S TIME TO WIN.
NCAA Championships Are Underway. It's Time to Make Things Happen.
As I sat there watching the Indiana Hoosiers fall to Penn State yesterday in the title game of the Big Ten Championships, I had a flashback. Actually, it was a bunch of flashbacks. I think it has something to do with following soccer for the past 10-plus years.
Indiana dominated play for the majority of the game. Penn State finished one of its two chances and that was enough. Indiana had nine shots on goal, but they were all erased when Penn State sent one into the net. Iím not saying Penn State didnít deserve to win. After all, they finished their chance. But I am saying, Indiana played better and maybe deserved it a little more.
November 3, 2005 THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR FOR SOCCER FANS
Chicagoland is the Place to Be
November soccer is exciting soccer. Thatís all there is to it. Everywhere you turn, you can find soccer in Chicagoland.
Major League Soccer is wrapping up its season, while college soccer is heating up.
Itís the time for the best of the best to stand up and take what is rightfully theirs. Itís time for the weakest links to be exposed. Itís the pinnacle of the season that all players dream ofÖ the championships.
October 10, 2005 RED ALERT
Note To Chicago - Fire is in the Playoffs
As a lifetime fan of the Chicago White Sox, Iím going through the emotional October that many other fans are. Itís incredibly exciting the Sox have gone this far. Unfortunately, the city of Chicago seems to have forgotten they Sox are not the only team in the playoffs. The Chicago Fire clinched a playoff berth last Wednesday. It was way overshadowed by the Soxís 5-4 comeback-win over Boston.
June 24, 2005 WANTED: SOCCER FANS
Get to Soldier Field in July
If you build it, they will come. That is the Fireís motto for the 2006 campaign. Meanwhile, where are all the fans for the 2005 season? According to the statistics the Fire ranks third in home attendance for the league, averaging 16,717 fans. But averages arenít always what they appear to be. A doubleheader with Mexico-Poland (54,427) helped the team boost its attendance for 2005. There are plenty of seats for the taking.
The thing that doesnít make sense is: this is a good team. The Fire is finding ways to win games. The team is ranked second in the Eastern Conference with a 7-6-2 record, 23 points and fourth overall in a league made up of 12 teams. The roster features a mix of veteran players and rookies.
April 12, 2005 It Doesn't Make Sense
Firing of Chicago's Wilt Doesn't Add Up
Thereís one thing Iíve always loved about Major League Soccer. Itís personal. The players, owners and staff are in it for the same reason. They love the game of soccer. On some level, many people are living out dreams by being involved with soccer. Itís a dream come true. No one is in it for the money. Itís about more than that Ė itís passion, tradition and respect for the worldís greatest sport.
Or so I thought.
March 23, 2005 Spend Spring as a Soccer Spectator
Soccer Taking over Chicagoland
Although itís still in the 40ís outside and not very spring-like, itís officially spring. And this spring will be packed full of soccer for all the fans in Chicagoland.
The soccer spectacle begins next week. On Sunday, March 27th be sure to tune into the U.S. National team taking on Mexico. The game will be live at 12:00 p.m. on ESPN2 and Telemundo on Easter Sunday. There will be viewing parties across the country, or convince your family this is a must-see event.
February 8, 2005 The Storm Has Come to Life
Team Is Looking Toward Playoffs
In its first year of Major Indoor Soccer League action, the Chicago Storm has struggled a tad bit. It started off the season on a positive note, fell into a slump and is now fighting to get back in the game. Like any first year team, the Storm has fallen victim to adversity Ė injuries have plagued players, roster switches have happened and mostly the team has been searching for a consistent rhythm.
But 22 games into the season, the Storm has finally found a rhythm. Things are turning around and at a good time. With just over 15 games left, the Storm has a chance to put itself in good position for the playoffs.
January 5, 2005 Soccer, Year Round?
Chicago Fans Have It Made
Soccer, year round? Who wouldíve thought it possible? But along the shores of Lake Michigan, itís become a reality.
The Chicago Fire (Major League Soccer) brought outdoor soccer back to Chicago in 1998. Fans had the opportunity to watch soccer from April to at least October, and sometimes longer depending on the Fireís success. But there was a five to six month gap where soccer fans would have to sit in front of their televisions, pay for cable, perhaps learn a new language and hope to see a soccer game.
December 15, 2004 Penalty Kicks Count, Get Over It
But is it fair?
Penalty kicks in championship games. Are they good or bad? It depends on whom you ask. And both sides will most likely have convincing arguments to back up their statements.
Letís look at this yearís NCAA Division I College Cups. Both the women and men went to two double overtime periods. And after neither team prevailed, by finishing one lone shot, the games went into penalty kicks. Two champions were crowned by just two penalty kicks.
December 7, 2004 Expansion Equals New Beginning, Well Kind Of
MLS Teams Reshuffle Again
You add two new teams to a league, so itís a new beginning, right? Technically yes. For Major League Soccer, this is their second stab at having a 12-team league. The first expansion in 1998 gave the league the Chicago Fire and the Miami Fusion.
In 2002, the Fusion folded along with the Tampa Bay Mutiny. But now in 2005, two new cities will have the opportunity to experience Major League Soccer Ė Salt Lake City and Los Angeles. Wait, doesnít Los Angeles already have a team? Yes they do, so itís not a new city. Itís a second team sharing a stadium with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
November 30, 2004 Major League Soccer is Serious
League Growing with Every Season
Since the beginning of Major League Soccer in 1996, skeptics have been waiting for it to fail. ďSoccer just wonít make it in the United States,Ē they have said. And maybe it wonít, but hundreds and thousands of fans may disagree.
November 30, 2004 the Chicago Fire broke ground on its soccer-specific stadium, which will open in Spring 2006. The stadium becomes the fourth to be built in the league. As of 2006, five MLS teams will have homes of their own.
November 23, 2004 The Big Ten is Taking Over
Five of Six Teams Advance
Itís strange, but true. The Big Ten Conference may soon be taking over the menís soccer NCAA Tournament. A small conference, with just seven teams, is proving that itís quite possibly, the mightiest one out there.
Six of seven Big Ten teams made the tourney, Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State and Penn State. And five out of the six remain for round two of NCAA Tourney action. Tulsa ended Michigan Stateís dreams with a 3-1 win on Friday.