BRIDGEVIEW – This is a stadium that has played home to a few soccer clubs since it opened up to host play in 2006 at Toyota Park.
Chicago Fire FC called it home up until the 2019 season and the Chicago Red Stars still play their home games at SeatGeek Stadium. In 2021, a new team has gone to the venue and is calling it home this season.
That’s Chicago House AC, who is in their first season of play in the National Independent Soccer Association. Owned by Lindsay Morgan Sacks and under the leadership of veteran soccer CEO Peter Wilt, the club began play in early August and will play till late November in their inaugural season.
A warm, humid summer night was on August 21st was their first home match at SeatGeek Stadium, as the club got the chance to show their product to the home fans for the first time.
“It’s like Christmas Day,” said Wilt of the opener. “It’s like you’re unwrapping a gift for a community and they finally get to see it.”
That was against New Amsterdam Football Club, where the spectators watched former Chicago Fire FC standout CJ Brown’s team take the pitch for the first time. While the club is going for wins, naturally, they’ve also found another purpose as they begin their franchise.
Per Wilt, Chicago House AC is structured as a public benefit corporation, which leans the franchise’s goals toward more community-based initiatives.
“Being committed to human rights, social justice, racial equity, diversity, and giving back to Chicago,” said Wilt of the franchise’s mission. “We, first of all, have a diverse organization on and off the field. We’re committed to being majority minority with our hires – the players, the coaches, the front office staff.
“We’re also committed to working in the community so we’re doing more than just talking the talk”
While he’s not from Chicago, the team does have one person from the community helping the club out. That’s Braden Tamosaitis, a 16-year old from Indianapolis who suffers from spina bifida, yet has served as an honorary coach for numbers high school and college teams in Indiana.
Having connected with the Tamosaitis family while starting the Indy Eleven soccer franchise in 2014 in Indianapolis, Wilt hear from them again when he started Chicago House AC.
“Being a mission-driven organization, they reached out and asked if Braden could take his skills to help Chicago House” said Wilt of Tamosaitis, and he accepted.
So Braden was just to the side of the bench for that opening game on August 21st, giving pointers along with encouragement to Brown, other assistants, and players.
“He actually made great points before the game,” said Drew Conner, a Cary native who used to play for Chicago Fire FC when they still called SeatGeek Stadium home. “Things that oddly enough align with the stuff that we need to work on, so he’s hardly ever wrong when he gives us a little bit of direction and decides to speak up with the group.
“He’s a great kid and we enjoy having him around.”
Tamosaitis saw the same thing that Connor and Brown did on that night, a 4-0 defeat to New Amsterdam, which is part of a 1-5-1 start to their first season. They’ll be at home against Michigan Stars FC next on Friday, September 24th, where Brown will continue to coach up this first year team as they continue on the next two months.
“You have hungry kids and hungry players that want to play and they’re playing for the love of the game,” said Brown of his club. “That’s always fun to be around.”