2011 Season Kick Off Luncheon Impresses Garber

The Fire's 2011 Season Kick Off Luncheon enjoyed the largest turnout yet for the annual event.  Over 750 people attended the luncheon established to benefit the team's charitable causes through the Chicago Fire Foundation.  Held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago, the event allows fans to meet and mingle with  players and coaches before the season officially kicks off. 


The team introduced the current roster to the attendees, including unsigned draft pick Davis Paul but no other "unsigned players" were announced although both Pari Pantazopoulos and Gabriel Ferrari were in attendance.  The team will go into the season with a 28 man roster and will resume training at Toyota Park tomorrow morning before departing for Dallas on Friday.  Official announcements on player signings are forthcoming.


MLS Commissioner Don Garber spoke to the crowd and answered a few questions after the event.  In addition to fielding questions regarding promotion and relegation, expansion, and the upcoming season Garber was eager to point out how impressed he was with the event, "I've been to several luncheons throughout the league and I have to say nothing even comes close to this event," said the commissioner. 

I had a chance to ask Garber what he thought some of the older established teams could do to capture some of the same attention from the local fan base and media that the new expansion sides have been able to develop.  Through his response it's evident the league realizes the novelty of new MLS franchises in some markets makes it easier to promote the product, "It's easy to be new.  Every marketer throws "new" in front of every product that they launch so the new teams have a bit of an advantage.  That being said, what exists here in Chicago is deep.  I mentioned to Andrew Hauptman that it's just remarkable that you can get a thousand people to come to a luncheon suppporting an MLS team.  The issues are different and I believe the opportunity is greater when you have an established team.  All the clubs are working hard to ensure that they can deliver, with an existing team that has been embedded in the community, some of the benefits that some of the newer teams get just by opening up their doors.  That means closer connection with the community, different and more effective marketing and it means more active relevancy programs throughout different communities.  I believe the Fire and all of the other clubs will be able to do that."

"Overall our business is good.  Attendance is growing. The overall soccer business in America is growing and our continued challenge will be converting soccer fans into being committed MLS fans.  That's not easy but it's moving in the right direction."

The Don also addressed the issues of expansion, promotion and relegation, referees, and  MLS televison.  You can listen to him discuss those topics here.

The Roster

Frank Klopas talks about the final 28 man roster in Sam Stejskal's latest article on MLSsoccer.com.  No official announcement has been made yet on which players have made the final cut but Klopas once again interestingly refers to the possible addition of another international forward.   



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  • The Chicago Fire Foundation is a good cause to support.

  • Great event, great time, great cause, and great team. SO glad my wife and I went this year.

  • Orrin Schwarz' notes from the Daily Herald......


  • In reply to cesba:

    Hardly a firm commitment to HIS new formation:--- "The Fire has been using a 3-5-2 formation in preseason and ---probably-- will start the season with it. 'It

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Playing every pre season game in one formation in order to establish it as an option seems a bit odd to me to say the least. He could be hoping to give opponents something else to consider by mentioning other formations. I'll certainly pose the question to DLC at training.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Thanks GR -- I realize that my comments about DLC and Frank come across as pretty negative. That isn't really a complete picture. I like what DLC is trying to do style-wise and I like Frank's emphasis on Eastern European and South American players but several of their managerial traits are like finger-nails on a blackboard to me. One is Frank's constant barrage of baloney regarding player acquisition delays and the other is DLC's ever present tweaking of team and roster structure. AAAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGHHH

  • In reply to cesba:

    GR -- I'm not the only one thinking there is too much turmoil on the Fire--Ridge Mahoney/Soccer America commenting on MLS GK's ---

    "12. CHICAGO. Sean Johnson has great physical tools and displayed more than a sliver of maturity in his rookie season. Can he go the distance backing a team that seems to be constantly in flux?..."

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    That's a pretty lame reason to rank Johnson #12. Johnson managed to get a call into USMNT camp and performed pretty well while sitting in the middle of a ton of "flux" in his rookie season. If a guy can play...he can play. "Can he go the distance backing a team in flux?"....just what does that mean?

  • In reply to cesba:

    GR -- definitely agree that ranking is out of wack. However, my point was related to his comment on the turmoil in the Fire camp with which I do agree. I will respond to him regarding the ranking.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Rank 16. I guess thats how the season wil go.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    The Fire losing Carr isn't that much of a big deal. I don't think he fits in the Fire's long term plans, it's unfortunate that he has had so many injuries so his talent quality is somewhat unknown.
    It is probably in Calen's welfare to play somewhere else where he can play more often, even if it's playing at a lower level where he can ignite his career.
    I can't see him being unemployed for very long, but I rather see Calen stay with the club then seeing him released, while Banner is still with the club.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    Calen is the prototypical pacey sub. Game gets late, put him in to lead the line and try to beat tired legs. It worked pretty well last year when he was healthy, but i don't think in MLS he would ever have a bigger role then that. Not that one is needed. Hercules Gomez has made a name for himself in mexico doing something similar.

  • Charlie Corr on the day's events......


  • Fire photos from the event......


  • Here is my recap of the Don's speech....Toronto Toronto Seattle Seattle Seattle Seattle Seattle Vancouver Seattle Seattle Seattle Portland Seattle Seattle,
    Thank you.

  • In reply to WBO5ElGuapo:

    Don't forget New York thrown in that speech.

  • In reply to WBO5ElGuapo:

    ok, crazy off the wall speculation here, but i wonder if the int'l fwd that chicago is pursuing is nkufo?


    i mean, chicago did the swap with ljungberg last season with seattle, maybe they will take another DP off seattles hands this season?

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Doubtful....Nkufo's retiring at the end of the season.

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    also rumor swirling is that he wants to land in vancouver where his family is

  • so the thread at bigsoccer.com says calen carr was not present. is he rehabbing an injury & couldnt attend, or is he possibly on the way out and knows it?

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Carr has an undisclosed injury that has kept him out of training for the last several weeks. He apparently did not attend yesterday while tending to the issue.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Has anyone really heard of a soccer injury that would not allow you to attend a team luncheon? If anyone should be exposed to teh fans, its Calen Carr because he is easily the most personable player on the team. I'm thinking that if he is in the team's plans, he would have been there. I think they are trying to work a trade to either Chivas or San Jose so Calen can be closer to home. If they pull off the trade, they sign Paul, Ferrari, and PP(cannot type his whole name) and then sign mystery striker #3 which gets them to 28. I don't want to see Calen go, but he has not seen the light of day in weeks.

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