It may look like a Chicago home game with all of the Fire fans in the background but this is a photo from the Columbus Invasion of 2011. The Columbus Invasion of 2012 is a top Away Trip for any Chicago supporter in 2012.
If you just can't get enough Section 8 Chicago, the Independent Supporters Association for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, has a part of their website dedicated to Away Trip planning and discussion. Once the season gets closer, Section 8 is the place to go to purchase away tickets and for some games, away game bus tickets that depart from Chicago. In this article I will give a brief outlook to my top five away trips of the upcoming season and a few others that may catch your interest as well.action with 17 home games, the option to travel to an away game is always there.
Columbus - Saturday, May 26th
The default road trip for any Section 8 supporter. The seven hour bus ride to Cow-town offers the time to make many new friends, share alleged stories of past trips, and, if the bus driver is kind and anyone has the resources, watch classic Fire matches on the bus TVs. Furthermore, the entrance into the stadium continues to get better with more Fire fans going to the road trips while the looks on the faces of the Columbus attendants gets more bewildered when they see what proper away support looks like. Last year the team gave every Section 8 season ticket holder a free bus trip to Columbus because the Section reached over 800 season tickets holders. This year the team is offering that benefit again. The sight of hundreds of Fire fans raising their voices in Ohio is something you don't want to miss. After the Fire turn Stadium into Firehouse East again, everyone will get to experience the best part of Columbus: leaving.
Kansas City - Friday, June 29th
A really exciting opportunity to see the newstadium if you haven't already. The Friday night kickoff will either benefit or hinder your involvement, but if you can take Friday off, you should be good to go. Depending on the number of people a bus or a van may be the vehicle of choice. After the Fire pick up a win, feel free to go in to a certain sandwich shop and try to get a free sandwich.
Montreal - Saturday, March 17th
Since the league scheduled the Fire to start the season a week later than everyone else, it would be understandable to be eager to open the season with the Fire in Montreal. This will be Montreal's first home game as an MLS club so expect a large crowd and an electric atmosphere. Hopefully a sunny day and a 1 pm kickoff will make the day warm enough to open the retractable roof in Olympic Stadium while watching our Men In Red bring home the first three points of the season.
Toronto - Saturday, July 21st
The last of the relatively local bus trips goes to Toronto. Only a nine hour ride away to BMO Field, this Canadian city is pretty sweet, unlike hanging around Columbus. An afternoon kickoff in Toronto offers time to see the nightlife after the game. The all-time series record in Toronto is fairly even so if the Fire are going to turn Toronto into Firehouse North, raucous support will be needed.
Portland - Sunday, May 20th
If all of these Eastern Conference road trips are too local for you and you wish for something more exotic, break the bank and go to Portland. A town with a rich culture as Portland's would make for fun pre-game tourist exploration and the knowledgeable supporters from the Section 8 allied Timber's Army would make great conversation about anything soccer, MLS or abroad. The game time atmosphere would be rockin' as per usual at JELD-WEN stadium throughout the game... except for the silence when the Fire find net, of course.
New York - Saturday, October 6th
A much better choice to go to New York than the absurd mid-July Wednesday afternoon game. Red Bull Arena is reportedly one of the most state of the art stadiums in the country and is only a train ride away from downtown Manhattan. But the main reason to make the trip to the Big Apple is that the season will be close to ending and playoff implications will make this a must see game. Will Wilman Conde be on the back line for the Red Bulls? Will the Red Bulls be in the middle of another late-season collapse? Will Hans Backe actually show up?
Philadelphia - Sunday, August 12th
Maybe an odd choice for an away trip, but PPL Park is close enough to downtown Philadelphia to take the day and look around town. After getting your fill on cheesesteak sandwiches, Rocky nostalgia and It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia quotes, support the team as they look to get their first win at PPL Park.
Houston - Tuesday, July 3rd
If you have the vacation time, why not use it and check out Houston's shiny, brand new stadium on the eve of Independence Day? The 7.30 pm kickoff time would cool the air down in a characteristically blazing hot Houston summer in what would be the halfway mark of the season. Hopefully all of the fireworks will come after the game as the Fire defence will try to keep the Dynamo off the scoreboard.
Hit the Road
Road trips are a very fun way to explore various North American cities, hang out with the Section 8 community, and most importantly, support the team. In a quick discussion with Fire head coach Frank Klopas at the Section 8 holiday party, he told me the support of the travelling fans in Columbus was what helped push the team to get that stoppage time goal and win the game. If you have ever wanted to push your commitment to supporting the Chicago Fire further, this is a good way to do so and show that for the Fire we will travel anywhere.