On October 8, 1997, the 126th anniversary of the great Chicago Fire, an MLS Expansion Team became the Chicago Fire. They began their first season in 1998. In 2017 they began play in their 20th season. There have been great times and not so good times, but there has always been one theme among longtime fans, “Fire till I die.” If the walls in all the stadiums they have played in could talk there would be tales of great triumph and unimaginable heartbreak. The memories linger in the stands where thousands of fans have cheered, chanted, raised their TIFO’s, cried, and uttered more than a few expletives in the process of supporting their favorite team. There have been many great players who worn the badge, great coaches who patrolled the sidelines. The walls of the stands at Toyota Park contain painted jerseys listing the trophies the Fire have won.

The Fire began their inaugural season on March 21, 1998 against the Miami Fusion with a 2-0 victory. Their amazing first season included an 11 game unbeaten streak. They won the MLS Cup and Open Cup. Long time Fire fan Frank Rowder lists the MLS Cup semi-final against the LA Galaxy as his favorite all time game. In the Cup final the Fire recorded the first ever shut out in Cup history in a 2-0 victory over reigning champs D.C. United. Six days later they won the Open Cup thanks to a Golden goal in overtime from long time Fire legend Frank Klopas. I could go on and on and list game after game as the years have gone by. But several are memorable for me. The come from behind 3-2 victory against Colorado. The 2015 season was disappointing but a bright side was the Fire’s first ever victory over the Seattle Sounders. The Capital come back is another one I remember after conceding a penalty kick on one end Gonzalo Segares assisted on two goals in the other end to give the Fire a 2-1 victory over hosts D.C. United. The victory gave the Fire slim hopes of making the playoffs only to have them dashed with a Philadelphia Union victory the next day. Yes there have been tears of great heartbreak as wells as happy tears, but just as each Fire Fan will have their own special memory, they wouldn’t have traded these 20 years for anything.

Over the past 20 years one thing has been constant the chants of the Fire’s supporter group Section 8. One chant is an ode to the folklore of the Great Chicago Fire. “Late one night, when we were all in bed, Mrs. O’Leary lit a lantern in the shed. Her cow kicked it over, then winked her eye and said “There’ll be a hot time in the old town tonight.” Just as they city of Chicago continued to rebuild to a major metropolis, the Chicago Fire will continue to build to add more memorable games and moments.


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