CHICAGO – As part of a major restructuring of the club, the team decided that their home needed to be closer to the city itself.
With a major part of the fan base there and a chance to grow a bigger audience, Chicago Fire FC kicked off a new era of their franchise under new ownership by leaving SeatGeek Stadium and coming back to Soldier Field.
It was the original home of the club in the late 1990s and was all set to host games for the first time in 15 years in March. But the pandemic postponed that March 21st match, and for five months the club wondered if they’d take the field at the venue at all in 2020.
Well after a “bubble” tournament and the setting of a phase one six-game schedule by MLS, the Fire got the opportunity to call Soldier Field home again on Tuesday – and did they take advantage of it.
In perhaps their best performance of the season, Chicago Fire FC scored two goals in the opening ten minutes en route to a 3-0 win over FC Cincinnati on Tuesday evening.
It’s their first regular season win of the season, with the team going 0-2-1 in their other contests around the Orlando tournament. For Soldier Field, it’s the teams first win in the venue in the regular season since 2005.
The only thing missing that would have made it perfect was the supporters, who will not be permitted in the stadium during phase one due to the pandemic.
“We wish that today there would have been 50, 60 thousand people here and the team would have been able to celebrate, in a normal world obviously, this victory because I only can imagine how it must be to win games here and score goals in a full stadium,” said head coach Raphael Wicky. “But the experience overall is great. I think it’s a great start for us, coming back to Soldier Field for the club and having a clear victory.”
Fabian Herbers had the honor of the first goal back at Soldier Field with a score in just the second minute of the game. Alvaro Medran got another eight minutes later when he drove a ball into the back of the net from 30 feet out to make it 2-0.
Ignacio Aliseda added a third in the 67th minute, and the Fire defense took care of the rest in helping to seal the victory. Bobby Shuttleworth got his first clean sheet in net as the Fire didn’t allow a goal for the first time all season.
“We were struggling in the past games to really be clinical in front of goal. We just didn’t get our chances and were losing some games even though we had the chances to win those games, actually, or to at least get a tie out of those games,” said Herbers. “Today, we showed that when we are clinical in front of the goal, that we can really dominate teams and be a good team and win games.”
Nothing helped the club do that by finally returning home.