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.
- 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.