The days of treating the Chicago Fire as small potatoes by the Chicago market are coming to an end, as MLS is growing rapidly throughout America, and Chicago needs to hop on the bandwagon.
Many non-Fire fans believe that soccer is boring, but have they really given it a hard chance? I used to dislike soccer when I was growing up, as I grew up in a soccer hating family. My father always said that “It’s not a sport if you can’t use your hands.” (False). It wasn’t until my brother got into soccer because of his roommates who all were fans, that I gave it a chance. I got into the English Premier League that season, and I became a massive Tottenham fan (Sorry Gunner Fans). I got into the Chicago Fire when the Spring came around, and I’ve been passionate ever since.
If an American football player who hated soccer can be converted, I think anyone can. What’s even more impressive is when you get a football player who hated soccer to later convince his soccer hating father that the game is very entertaining. You will be seeing my Dad, Brother, and I at the Fire season opener this evening, the third we have attended.
So why is it time to get into the Fire? Here are a few reasons.
Get on the Growing MLS Bandwagon Early
Now is the time to get into MLS. The league is no retirement league anymore as it has been known as in the past. This past offseason, the average age of newly signed designated players — which are the three players that can be paid whatever the clubs want, but only counts for a fixed amount on the salary cap — are at 23.46 years old according to the Elias Sports Bureau. We are seeing a youth movement within the league, which will lead to the league being good for years to come.
Attendance is also growing, as last season we saw that the MLS had almost 5,000 more attendees on average than the NBA and the NHL. Of course, blame could (and is) put on stadium capacity size, but it still is a good number to see more attending this.
In the City of Chicago, sports are not cheap to attend in any capacity. Chicago sports fans know that when you go to a game, and you want decent seats, you have to pay up a lot of money. The Chicago Fire is different, you can get tickets for the home opener right now for 20 dollars excluding fees, not too shabby for the opening day of any sport. The best part is, you’re going to be much closer to the action for that price, rather than being at the top of the stadium at other sporting events.
The Fire Have One of the Best Players of the Century
While we are seeing a youth movement coming to the league, Bastian Schweinsteiger has come into Chicago and proven that he can hang around with the young lads. The former captain of the German team that won the 2014 World Cup can still make incredible plays, and he is on Chicago’s team!
If you watch the video below, you can see Bastian talk about the city and how he wants to grow the team, and make it a more popular team in Chicago (We will hopefully get him to understand the pizza). If we can get one of the most world renowned players in the sport investing in our city and trying to grow our club, we should at least pay attention to what he has to say.
Parity is Aplenty Across the MLS Landscape
In the top leagues in the world, a struggle occurs because every year the same couple of teams or even one team will (in all likelihood) win the title for that respective sport. In the MLS, everything can change very quickly, and every year new teams are up for contention.
The Chicago Fire are a perfect example. In 2015 and 2016, the Chicago Fire were the worst team in the MLS. In 2017 though, with some new pieces, they became a playoff team. The competition is very fierce and exciting to watch, and quite a few teams have a realistic shot at winning the MLS Cup, which will excite American fans much more than one or two teams dominating every year.
The Atmosphere of the Games is Hard to Match
Have you ever been in a wild student section for a college basketball game? You can experience that at Chicago Fire games. The cheapest tickets that you can get to a Fire game are the general admission tickets, where you can choose to stand/sit anywhere in the few sections on the end line (Standing is highly encouraged). You will be around a bunch of friendly guys and girls who will be yelling and screaming all match. Don’t be intimidated by the chants that may start, because most are very simple to learn on the fly.
If you are not about the hopping around and yelling life, there is not a bad place to view the game in the stadium. I have sat in just about every part of the stadium, and every view will give you an up-close look at the action.
Besides the atmosphere going on, the play on the pitch is also exciting. In Chicago, you will see plenty of goals, as we have plenty of guys that can put it in the back of the net.While everyone knows of Bastian Schweinsteiger, many do not know the likes of Nemanja Nikolic or Dax McCarty. Both of these guys are very talented and renowned players in the MLS.
In my opinion, the best way to get into the Chicago Fire is to be a part of the atmosphere surrounding it. There are few, if any professional sports leagues out there anymore that you can still go for very cheap, tailgate in the parking lot, and sit very close to the game.
For you to like the Chicago Fire, you must give it a chance. I decided to give it that chance and have fallen in love. The Chicago Fire may not be with the big dogs of Chicago sports yet, but like it or not, it will be soon, and you should come on and join early!