Optimism abounds at Kickoff Luncheon

The Fire's annual Season Kickoff Luncheon, held at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Chicago yesterday is traditionally an event where supporters gather to meet the squad for the first time every season while basking in an atmosphere filled with the optimism of a brand new season on the horizon.  This year was no different.  The SKOL grows each year and serves as a good start to each campaign with over 800 attendees contributing to the event benefitting the Chicago Fire Foundation charities.

It's also a chance to pick up on interesting news items regarding the club.  Here's a rundown:

  • Sean Johnson has been named to the U-23 Men's National team training camp roster and will be unavailable to the Fire for at least the first two matches of the season.  It's likely Johnson won't be back with the club until the 4/15 home game against Houston.
  • Paolo Tornaghi is in Italy finalizing his visa leaving Jay Nolly as the only keeper currently available for selection this weekend.  The club is hopeful Tornaghi will be available against Montreal.
  • The release of Pari Pantazopoulos this weekend leaves the roster at 28 counting Tony Walls, who has not been officially signed as of yet but was in attendance.  Steven Kinney was introduced as part of the club although he has not yet been able to resume training.  Draft pick Lucky Mkosana will re-join the club for another look after completing his schooling this spring.
  • Dan Kelly and Evan Whitfield will return to the television broadcast booth this year.
  • The television broadcast schedule has not been released yet but should be made public soon.  Comcast Sportsnet is not a part of the broadcast team this year.
  • Sebastian Grazzini's contract does indeed expire in June but the club apparently has an option to buy/keep him if they choose to.  Grazzini expressed a desire to remain in Chicago beyond the initial terms.

Weekend Notes

  • Join the Fire Confidential fantasy league by entering code 8891-1535 over at the MLS Fantasy Soccer Manager game.
  • Average attendance for MLS First Kick weekend was 18,174.....without the aid of Seattle.
  • Montreal's centerback duo of Tyson Wahl and Matteo Ferrari got off to a rough start against Vancouver and should have their troubles continue while attempting to corral Patrick Nyarko and Dominic Oduro.
  • Eastern Conference teams validated just about everyone's opinion regarding inferiority in comparison to their Western Conference counterparts.  The East went 1-5 this weekend against the West and were outscored 10-3.



Filed under: 2012 Regular Season

Tags: Chicago Fire


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  • Guess the East has morphed into the MLS' second division... Sounds like the League needs to step up and address this issue. They can't let this go on indefinitely. The owners in the East must be compelled to either compete or relinquish ownership. To allow them to do otherwise is in no way good for MLS.

    On the PR front, I would suggest someone from the Fire PR office call the Trib and demand that the "Sports Calendar" include a line for the Fire showing their game at Montreal Saturday. That's not too much to ask if the Trib can show a line for the Rush even though there's no games listed.

    And perhaps the embarrassment of having to admit there's no known coverage for the game so far might generate enough FO angst to be productive.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    how about this: winner of the eastern conf gets "promoted" to the western conf :o)

  • In reply to CountChocula:

    Could we throw in upgraded ownership and really give them something to play for?

  • So, East/West disparity......motivation for a single table league? Discuss.

  • In reply to Jeff Krause:

    From the standpoint of building casual fan interest, a single table league really only makes sense if you have a relegation zone at the bottom.

  • And that 18,174 average includes San Jose's 10K sold out stadium pulling the average down a bit. And I know that Dallas was supposedly sold out, but I saw a lot of empty seats.

    The power of conferences waxes and wanes. Between 1991 and 2000 the American League won 7 and lost 2 World Series. Cest la vie.

  • At Yesterdays Luncheon Andrew Hauptman
    said that he was committed to the Chicago-Fire
    stating Our City Our Club and wanted to grow
    the Fan base. His actions don't support his words. 03/13/13 No English Speaking Television and Radio Schedule announcement. Hauptman hired Julian Posada to promote the Fire throughout Chicagoland. Glad we have a Spanish Broadcast schedule. What about the majority of the Fans who don't speak Spanish???
    It's a shame Hauptman has to be told to call The Tribune to get the Fire listed. I thought Posada used to work for the Tribune and has influence there. When the Fire played MANU at Soldiers Field there were over 60,000 in attendance and both Spanish Speaking and English Speaking Fans in attendance. There was a beautiful Electrifying atmosphere within
    the crowd. Julian Posada said he wanted to keep the Fire and enthusiasm burning.
    The truth is that Hauptman and Posada let the
    fire die out and don't really understand what it takes to make the Fans happy and grow the Fan Base in Chicago and its suburbs." We should all contact the Fire Office with e-mails and telephone calls and tell them how we feel about their poor performance in growing the Fire Fan Base in Chicagoland."

  • In reply to Juergen:

    Err, the Fire has been on the Tribune's sports calendar for a couple weeks now. And if the latest rumor pans out, the wait for the TV schedule will be well worth it.


  • In reply to iron81:

    You must be looking at something else, Iron. Check the Trib web page. Click on Sports, then look about halfway down on the right side. There's a Sports Calendar that lists Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs, Sox, Wolves and Rush. It lists today and the next 5 days. Shows the games, times, opponent, and TV coverage info. There's not even an entry for the Fire, although they show the Rush even though there are no Rush games scheduled in that time.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    I was looking at the print version. I guess the internet version would be nice, but print is more important.

  • I would like to see MLS reformat as a single table league. I think it would increase the competetive pressures on owners at least a little. Not sure what the arguement against it would be other than creating some asurances that teams from all across the country make the playoffs. If it's at the expense of some owners not being fully committed, I say who cares! Let them reap what they sow.

  • Honestly, I may get blasted here, but I think that the East/West disparity is slightly exaggerated. Last year LA, Seattle, Dallas, KC, Colorado, Philly, NY, Chicago, and San Jose had positive records over the East (positive wins>loses, ties not counted). LA, Seattle, Salt Lake, Dallas, KC, Colorado, Houston, and DC had postive records over the West. What this seems to indicate is the best teams (LA, Seattle, Dallas in the case of last year) do come from the West, but in general I don't think this means that overall the West is inherently better than the East. The reason there were so many wins this weekend for the West is that the West teams were at home. Last year all but Chicago and New England had positive records at home vs teams from the West. Likewise, every single team in the West had positive records at home vs teams from the East. Taken all together, I think that the general veiw of the West being better than the East is a result of the West having the current best three to four teams in the league and the fact that home teams have a huge advantage over visiting teams from the other league due to long travel. The fact that the West does contain the best three to four teams, does mean they are a better league, but I think beyond those teams, the East/West are evenly matched.

  • I am blown away that the Fire have not announced the television coverage for the team. This is nuts. The only people who are going to watch the game are current Fire fans looking for the game and people who accidentally turn to the station. How dumb is that? Is there any way the Pritzkers could use some of their cash from selling TransUnion to buy the Fire? Maybe they could then use some of their clout to convince the city, the county and the state to extend the Orange Line to the stadium. This current ownership is for the birds.

    Message to Andrew H.: If you want to make money on your investment you need to manage the investment properly. How can you call yourself a private equity investor if you don't invest? If this were one of your movie productions would you let the movie start showing in theaters without any advertising? No? Then get your act together and get the games on TV, let the market know the team is out there, and start showing the Chicago community that your words mean something.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    This tv issue is absolutely mind boggling.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    The problem with that is his words really DON'T mean anything and he doesn't dare make it any more obvious than it already is.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Well put Krasov.

  • Every single team in the league except for the Fire has already published its broadcasting schedule. This organization is so awful. If the league truly is a single entity, the league management needs to step in and force these guys to get out. Chicago is a huge market. I cannot believe these guys actually show up for meetings with fans. They have got to go. What is Hauptman doing, trying to get a better deal from the TV stations by waiting until he last minute to decide? He can get a better deal by focusing on the team which will generate better ratings. He is a Wirtzian scholar for sure.

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Krasow, I am with you 100% and I am equally frustrated as most of you are with Hauptman
    and company. He doesn't get the importance
    of television advertising. I have vented my frustration with Andrew Hauptman and Julian
    Posada about their Poor Performance in
    Advertising the Fire by posting comments on the Fire Web site and Facebook. We should all contact the Fire Front Office and Post our
    Comments on Facebook. Hopefully then we
    get Hauptman and Posoda to take notice.

  • In reply to Juergen:

    I for one won't be posting comments on Facebook. If I did, I'd tell them they're doing a good job. Frank put together a great team, they kept ticket prices low and I enjoy supporting the club. Get a grip people.

  • In reply to iron81:

    Iron81, I think you are right and you are wrong. Frank had a decent team. A great team was on the field when the Fire lost to RSL in a shootout. That team was great, but most of those players are gone. There is a difference between the assemblage of players/coaching them (about which I have zero complaints) and the management of the organization. The business side is where the Fire are failing. I want to see fans at games. I want to see people wanting to have the Fire turned on the TV in bars not just some NBA playoff game that doesn't involve the Bulls. I want to hear people talking about the team and not have someone in the conversation say, "I didn't know Chicago has a professional soccer team." That won't happen with the current ownership.

  • With no announcement yet it's possible that the rumored NBC5.2 deal may not happen. It's very odd that with only days remaining until the opener no tv deal has been announced. Surely Hauptman will be asked about the tv deal at the annual media dinner tomorrow and we should have some clarification by then if indeed the announcement isn't made in the next 24 hours.

    It's a ridiculous situation for a professional franchise in the country's top flight soccer league (in the third largest market in the country no less) to be in at this point but let's be patient just a short time longer seeing that there is no official announcement as of yet.

    Until then feel free to continue expressing your thoughts as I'm certain the front office is reading comments here and elsewhere.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    this is how i see the front office... ;)


  • Chris Rolfe not ruling out a summer move to MLS but says he has options in Denmark......


  • fb_avatar
    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    You had to pull me off the bench for this one didn't you? As I see it, Rolfe would be the perfect person to add to this Fire squad, in the locker room and on the field. We need a leader on the pitch, not to mention an experienced midfield winger, and he would definitely come in as the veteran Fire player and command that respect immediately from other less vocal leaders Pappa and Nyarko who would also be familiar with Rolfe.

  • Santos is slicing and dicing Seattle early in their Champions League match. 2-0 Santos at the 10 minute mark.

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Looks like Herculez Gomez is going to KO Seattle.

  • Trib's web page for sports added the Fire to their Sports Calendar this morning. Sometimes complaints work.

  • Watching the Bulls game last night, I noticed that the ComcastSportsNet logfo changed somewhat. It now flashes NBC Sports. That's got to be part of the coming re-branding of all of Comcast's sports businesses to the NBC Sports name. Maybe this is the cause of the delay of announcing a simple thing as a telecast schedule like every other team in the league has already done because Chicago's ComcastSportsnet franchise may be the first official rebranded station. Wait, that would be giving too much credit to the Fire. Peter Wilt can you please have breakfast with the Pritzkers and get them to buy the team? Please!!!

  • In reply to Krasov:

    I also noticed while watching the CSN sports update ths weekend that the Fire's logo is now missing from the roll call showing the other "major league" teams that call Chicago home. Their website has also now removed them from the front page and relegated them to the "More" section alongside MMA and fantasy sports. Nice move. Good thinking there.

    Btw, NBC is a 20% owner in CSN locally. Ricketts, Reinsdorf, and Wirtz are the other owners.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Maybe that would explain the delay. Andrew H is dealing with legit owners who actually know how to make deals so they basically have shunned the guy.

  • The Fire have announced the signing of supplemental draft pick Tony Walls. He is now officially part of the team.

    He was impressive in preseason....serves an excellent cross in from the right side.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Agreed. He can play right back and defensive mid correct?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Yes....I think he can play in MLS for sure.

  • Tv schedule will be out today....may dispel all previous speculation. We'll see.....

  • http://www.csnchicago.com/pages/tvlisting
    March 17, 2012
    12:30 - Fire Pregame Show
    1:00 - Fire at Montreal (LIVE)

    Fire was at top of the page (NOT IN MORE ANYMORE)

  • In reply to zippyspurs:

    Good catch.....this is a good thing. Also good to see that they've come to their senses.

  • Thank you God for putting the toe to whoever. It was a well placed blow judging from the results!

  • In reply to Arklow:

    Maybe they ARE listening

  • Announcement has now appeared on the FIre Web Site for the broadcast coverage.

    "Fire partner with NBC Chicago, Comcast SportsNet; Introduce 30-minute Pre-Game Show"

  • fb_avatar

    I know it took them a while to get this up (like the week of the first game), but I give them credit where it's due. This is a good TV lineup for me.

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