The past few days have been a whirlwind for the Chicago Fire; on Monday, they parted ways with head coach Ezra Hendrickson, on Tuesday, they defeated St. Louis in a U.S. Open Cup round of 32 tie, and now, they’re preparing for a marquee rematch at Soldier Field tomorrow.
Here are five reasons why this game is one you won’t want to miss!
1. Great soccer weather
In truth, the Fire have been very unlucky with the lack of coordination between the Chicago weather and the MLS schedule. Spring has refused to arrive in totality, and the vast majority of the Fire’s home games so far have been rather unpleasant. The expectation for tomorrow, though, is that it should be a much nicer day to watch soccer outside. Temperatures in the mid-60s are expected, and there is only a low chance of rain. Furthermore, the game will kick off at noon, avoiding the chillier night hours.
2. Chicago Sports Day
The club are running some fun promotions for this game centered around the theme of Chicago Sports. The first 5,000 fans to arrive at the stadium will receive a free Chicago Fire hockey jersey, custom designed with the Chicago flag and Fire logo. There will be appearances from current and former Chicago athletes such as Brian McBride, Andrew Billings, Joshua Blackwell, Kendall Gill, and others. The Chicago Bulls’ six NBA championship trophies will be on display, and there will be many other additional Chicago sports-themed festivities. Hopefully, the Fire put some goals in the back of the net, so we can hear “Chelsea Dagger” ring over the PA system.
We've got mascots, we've got specialty merch, we've got appearances from your favorite Chicago athletes. #cf97 Chicago Sports Day is gonna be FUN! All the details on next Saturday's match vs @stlCITYsc ⬇️
— Chicago Fire FC (@ChicagoFire) May 5, 2023
3. Klopas back in the dugout
With Hendrickson departing the club earlier this week, club legend Frank Klopas once again took over as the manager for his third spell. Klopas is someone whose passion for the club is unmatched, and his ambition of doing whatever he can to get the Fire back to where they belong is already being felt. The Head Coach took the team out to a Greek restaurant for lunch yesterday to help build cohesion and has spoken about wanting to bring the joy back for the players and fans. Though the circumstances of a mid-season coaching change aren’t ideal, it’s a joy to see Klopas back on the sideline in MLS.
4. Shaqiri and Gutiérrez together
Two of MLS’ most talented attacking midfielders will likely be on display for the Fire tomorrow in DP Xherdan Shaqiri and homegrown Brian Gutiérrez. For most of this season, Hendrickson struggled to figure out the best way to get them both on the field together and showed reluctance towards allowing “Guti” to start in his best role centrally when Shaqiri was also available. Klopas, however, has indicated that such an offensive configuration is a possibility that we could see very soon, which is certainly exciting for Fire fans. Between Guti’s current breakout season and Shaqiri’s name recognition and top-level experience, this duo is one that will be among the most feared in North American soccer if the Fire can figure out how to get it firing on all cylinders.
5. It’s St. Louis
The intercity rivalry between Chicago and St. Louis is one that dates back to the nineteenth century, and whether it be Cubs-Cardinals or Blackhawks-Blues, the two cities have been going at it as long as anyone can remember. Though tomorrow’s match will be the first-ever MLS meeting between the Fire and St. Louis City, there is already bad blood between the two sets of fanbases. The budding rivalry, which has already begun to emerge in light of this week’s Open Cup match, has the potential to be something special, especially considering the incredibly rich soccer history between both cities dating back over the century. In interviews earlier this week Klopas and forward Kei Kamara both expressed how the fans can provide a huge boost to the team, particularly in such matchups, and the supporters at Soldier Field should provide a lift that the Fire need to snap their difficult run in MLS.
The Fire’s match against St. Louis will kick off shortly after 12:00 noon on Saturday, May 13th. Tickets may be purchased HERE.