The Chicago Fire turned 16 on October 8th. There was a party! One of those family get together type parties. This get together was held at the Stadium Club inside Toyota Park. The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that the Fire academy players were in attendance. I saw a group of them excitedly go up to Sean Johnson and talk to him. When you go to the front of the food line there was Frank Klopas putting some food (Greek Islands of course) on your plate and being awesome. Outside of Johnson a few other players were milling around. Gonzalo Segares, Logan Pause, and Paulo Tornaghi were also in attendance. After dinner there was the presentation of the new Third Kit. The program started with Fire Senior Vice President of Ticket Sales, Service, Operations and Marketing Mike Ernst welcoming attendees. He started with a zinger about a lack of a dunk tank for one Dan Lobring. Fine choice for an opening joke! The rest of Mike's talk was well prepared. He touched on the past and future of the club along with some of the current struggles being experienced on the field. Reiterated the commitment of ownership towards building a winning franchise. In a nice moment he introduced Joel Piktel, Chairman of Section 8 Chicago, referring to him as a partner in the efforts to build the club. Piktel focused on thanking Frank Klopas for his efforts in providing the food for the anniversary party and attributing the original idea to do this every year to him.
Frank Klopas spoke next. He gave a rather impassioned speech about how much the club means to him. How they are all committed with "no regrets" to the rest of the season. He thanked all of his players that attended the event. He referenced the future of the club being about the academy. Frank looked to be full of emotion. I was sitting about three feet away from him while he spoke so I had a different vantage point. Some of the words he said I had heard him say before (Sting reference!) but they all felt important to me tonight. Perhaps it was the emotion of a man fighting for a job that he clearly loves. Perhaps it was just how close I was sitting to him but his words felt powerful and honest to me.
The new Third Kit was introduced. The "Heart on Your Sleeve" design by Freddy Christiano won. Christiano and his family were in attendance and looked completely thrilled with the outcome. In the end it was a nice moment at the anniversary party. Congratulations to Freddy. It is a cool design and I hope it sells well. As a reminder the Third Kit will not debut until next year's Anniversary game.
I should mention there was cake. It was delicious.
Conspicuous in their absence were COO Atul Khosla, President of Soccer Operations Javier Leon and Owner Andrew Hauptman. A bit sad to not see any of them there. On the bright side the Fuego crew was well represented. Myself, Rodolpho and Ellen were all in attendance looking rather splendid. Sadly the sartorial styling of one Tweed Thornton was not to be seen. Too bad. I'm sure his pocket square game was exquisite.
It was a fun and enjoyable event. Thanks to the Fire and Frank Klopas for putting on a great evening with the family.