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MLS 101: Chicago Fire Edition

Though they were named after a brutal disaster, the Chicago Fire sure have not played like one. The Men in Red have only missed the playoffs once in their entire existence, and they are one of the most successful teams in US Open Cup history (and the most successful MLS side). Unlike the dreadful Cubbies, they do not appear to be under any curse.

They first took the pitch in 1998 and they shocked the US soccer world by winning the MLS Cup and the US Cup in their inaugural season. Since then, they have settled for second twice (2000, 2003) and picked up the Supporters Shield once (2003). Their many supporters groups (of which my fave name is “Mike Ditka’s Street Crew”) have had much to celebrate.

The Fire have been so good because they have fielded some amazing players over the years. Along with current stars Cuauhtemoc Blanco and Brian McBride, past legends include Chris Armas, DaMarcus Beasley, Piotr Nowak, Ante Razov, Eric Wynalda, Carlos Bocanegra and Josh Wolff. Their all-time Best XI could compete with anyone’s.

They play their games in the beautiful new Toyota Park, and they enjoy one of the highest average attendances in the league. Coach Denis Hamlett has a darn good squad coming back in 2009 too, and they are expected to go deep into the playoffs yet again. So long as Blanco, a Mexican legend, continues to produce, the Fire will not be extinguished.

As Peter and the other Fire fans who frequent this site could tell you, I have omitted the club from some recent top 10 lists and I am now looking to make amends. So, come back to STO tomorrow for articles about Soldier Field and the 1998 Chicago Fire.