CHICAGO – March 21st was supposed to be the start of a new era for Chicago’s Major League Soccer franchise as they returned to their original home with new branding and identity.
The COVID-19 pandemic changed those plans, suspending the season and delaying their much awaited return to Soldier Field.
But over five months later, Chicago Fire FC is finally going to make their official return to the lakefront.
The MLS announced their plan to restart the rest of their season following their tournament in Orlando, and in the process announced the first six games for the Fire as Phase 1 of the league’s return commences.
For the Fire, that includes three contests at Soldier Field, but with the pandemic still going on, no fans will be allowed to attend. The return will happen on Tuesday, August 25th against FC Cincinnati with the next game on Sunday, September 6th against the New England Revolution and six days later against Columbus Crew SC on September 12th.
“With health and safety as our focus, our Club has made the decision to play our next three home matches at Soldier Field without fans,” said Fire President Nelson Rodríguez in a statement released by the club. “The limited number of players, staff and workers who need to be at the stadium on those three days will be provided a safe environment as we continue to focus on their well-being.”
Raphael Wicky’s team will return to action away from home when they face Columbus on the road on Thursday, August 20th. After their first game at Soldier Field on the 25th, they’ll play back-to-back road contests at New York City FC (August 29th) and FC Cincinnati (September 1st).
All of these contests will be televised on WGN-TV and all will start at 6:30 PM CST.
This is part of the MLS’ return to play plan after the pandemic suspended their season on March 12th. The league is hoping to play 18 games between now and November 8th.