Mike Magee of the Chicago Fire won Major League Soccer (MLS) Most Valuable Player (MVP) award last week as the MLS season was drawing to a close. This allows me to put some new perspective on my entire initial season of being a Chicago Fire fan.
At the beginning of the season, I had been to a Chicago Fire game only once before. Starting in March, at the first Fire home game against New England Revolution (which Fire lost), I became very excited about the 2013 Chicago Fire season. I attended more than fifteen home games over eight months. Even though the team failed to make the playoffs or win a trophy, the excitement never stopped.
I realized the team wasn't playing particularly well through the first quarter of the season. Comparing other MLS teams, Mexico, Ukraine, and Germany's leagues quickly gave some perspective. I was just beginning to understand the club, the fan scene, and Toyota Park in Bridgeview. I was determined to become a fan of the professional soccer team with my city's name on it: Chicago Fire. A few web inquiries at www.chicago-fire.com, and www.s8c.org helped me connect with some club and fan media. Besides attending and watching games, I was learning the soccer media landscape in its local, national and global manifestations. This in itself was no small task; luckily I had some focus, technical ability, and media and research skills. I managed to meet soccer fans from overseas and locally. Later I made Twitter a summer project and that and other social media propelled me to become more vocal about my new interest. I took both neighbors and out of town friends (RSL fans!) to Chicago Fire games.
All of this was very new to me, and very interesting. Mike Magee winning the MVP award underscores that the excitement I felt about the club and my experience of Chicago Fire soccer. My experience as a fan wasn't a self-propelled illusion. I was watching a club transform. I saw some great soccer by great players in a dynamic club environment. It was fun, fascinating, entertaining and even transformative. It left me wanting more.
And I even got more than I bargained for: I went to art shows, made new friends, and created a 3D fan space. I met Chicago Fire coach Frank Klopas, and Fire players Gonzalo Segares and Jeff Larentowicz. Just the few times I went to Fire Fridays and other events at the Atlantic, the Globe Pub, AJ Hudsons, Cleos, and elsewhere added up to the most time I've spent in bars in years. I absolutely enjoy the tailgate experience at Toyota Park which I felt to be very welcoming.
They tell me that 2013 was the 100th anniversary year of US Soccer. They tell me that "we" are going to the World Cup next year. I had purchased Chicago Fire season tickets for 2014 before the MVP announcement in early December. Now Mike Magee put the cherry on top of my personal journey as a fan of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club.