By: Amanda Beemer

If you’ve ever been to a Fire home match at Toyota Park and witnessed an unlikely save made by our keeper, you’ve inevitably heard Section 8 erupt in raucous chanting of the line “Big Jon Busch ain’t nothin’ to …. with”. As of Monday night, we stand corrected. Ever since, a flickering black and white highlight reel of Busch’s greatest saves has been looping in the back of my mind, accompanied by Andrea Bocelli wistfully singing “Time to Say Goodbye”. There may have even been a tear, possibly two.

A brief recap: our veteran keeper got the boot this past Sunday after three years of fantastic service to the Fire, and with no apparent warning beforehand. Busch has since stated he felt as though he was “blindsided” by the news, and is now scrambling to find a club to play for, whether in the states or abroad. According to Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas the decision was based on player performance, not budget issues. Though this may be the case, it begs the question why the club led Busch to believe all preseason that he’d be starting in the upcoming match against the New York Red Bulls, only to dump him less than a week before it. Presently, I don’t care how good it ultimately is for the club, or whether the decision made financial or strategic sense, or both.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

It is not necessarily the fact that we lost him that upsets me – we have seen plenty of other keepers go, most notably Zach Thornton who now tends Chivas’s net. It is the abruptness, the poor timing, and the lack of consideration with which he was waived that is sending me into a bleary-eyed nostalgic tizzy. Say what you will about Busch’s age, or his size, or his playing last season; what is undeniable is that Busch is a true class act and he thoroughly represented the Tradition, Honor and Passion that the Chicago Fire club believes in so steadfastly. He deserves better than this.

Jon Busch knew what it meant to wear the Fire badge, and he wore it well. He often showed respect and gratitude toward all the fans who have had his back throughout the past three years, and recently admitted that sometimes during matches he’d sing along with Section 8 when he had a free moment. Rather than letting the fans give him a proper sendoff (21-gun salute?) that reflected our mutual respect and appreciation, Klopas quietly dropped the bomb on him over a beer last Sunday evening, less than 48 hours after the new CBA was signed and the MLS-wide strike was averted.

As for our new starting keeper, Andrew Dykstra, it’s up to him to convince us that parting with Busch was the right decision. Although he should be welcomed with open arms and encouragement, the fact remains that he has some pretty big gloves to fill. And let it be known that his chants, whatever they turn out to be, will never be as fun to yell as Busch’s.

Amanda is a long-time Chicago resident and an avid Chicago Fire fan, and has been following MLS for the better part of a decade. Although she makes an awesome spectator, she is a god-awful player.

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