By Amanda Beemer
Old school Chicago Fire fans are certainly seeing plenty of familiar faces amidst the United States World Cup team. Head Coach Bob Bradley was the Fire’s first coach ever, serving the club from 1997-2003, and starters such as Bocanegra, Beasley, and DeMerit among others all spent time in Chicago. Additionally, Bradley’s son Michael got to kick around with Fire legends Piotr Nowak and Frank Klopas as a kid. Although Chicago as a whole seems either oblivious or ambivalent to these home-town ties, support for the World Cup tournament (particularly the US) in the Windy City has been surprisingly fervent.
In keeping with all the other World Cup coverage, it seems only fitting that this article is interrupted by vuvuzelas, or “stadium horns” as marketed by windycitynovelties.com. The single-note trumpets are irritating cultural-tourists worldwide, inciting them to contact FIFA and their local broadcasters and request that the din, which has been likened to a swarm of 80someoddthousand man-sized bees, be minimized in the live feeds. According to a BBC report the instrument was invented by a South African church over a century ago, and has since been thoroughly integrated into the World Cup host country’s football culture. Despite players’ remarks that the racket is affecting their ability to communicate with mates and refs, FIFA has stated that they will only consider a vuvuzela ban if they start being thrown on the pitch (read: affecting game play for real). Personally, I find the background drone rather pleasant, soothing even, although it has been less pronounced in games of late (thanks, ESPN), and if I had an iPhone you better believe it would already be my ringtone.
But I digress. Given my esoteric knowledge of the Fire – USMNT connection, I wanted to be sure to not miss the Yanks’s debut match
Photo from fOTOGLIF
against England. I also made the naïve presumption I could get a seat and a pint at my local British pub even if I casually showed up after the first touch. Due to my own pessimism regarding American interest in football in general, I spent the majority of the first half figuring out where to watch (I ended up in my living room because every other bar nearby was also at capacity or not even bothering to answer their phone).
However, I did manage to see Clint Dempsey’s equalizer courtesy of England’s Robert “Butterfingers” Green at a taco shop. I have also seen the replay montage of the ball skipping past an outstretched Green immediately followed by Dempsey’s singular, pious, over-exaggerated celebration more times than I care to admit. Apparently, Dempsey wasn’t even convinced his goal counted until he looked over to the linesman, but once he knew it was good he, America, and the north side of Chicago in particular rejoiced as if the Cubs had just won the World Series. Admittedly, tying England in the opening round of the World Cup is huge; that goal was not – and from what little I saw neither was the US’s performance. That celebration should have been saved for the end of the contest or better yet, for a match where a US win is achieved by goals that aren’t due to egregious errors by slippery-gloved keepers. Then again, maybe Green just couldn’t hear the ball rolling past his fingertips amidst all the ruckus.
Amanda is a long-time Chicago resident and 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. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org