Five months. A pre-season filled with a change of coaches, a change of technical staff, a healthy change of players on the roster, pre-season matches, a Fire Foundation Luncheon, and the usual rumors and scuttlebutt for extra seasoning. When you include into this mix the additional informal gatherings, Section 8 events (and for those whom it matters,*cough* the start of league seasons in Europe,*cough*) you have the last 5 months of our experience in the soccer world.
Even with the conclusion of the pre-season and the first two regular season Fire games now in the books, the experience and the full impact of knowing that the season is truly and genuinely here doesn't seem to hit until the very first home game. It is this opening volley that signals the true beginning of a season-long adventure of the ups and downs of following our team. Experiences to be had, memories to be made, friendships to be built, and countless volumes of tweets, posts, photos and videos all begin for us on this fabled day.
What is it that makes the home opener so special? Is it the trip to Toyota Park and seeing the stadium come into view along Harlem or 71st Street? Is it pre-game tailgating where we catch up with friends, share a drink and a bite, and prepare for the next two hours? Is it walking on to the concourse and seeing the pitch again, or sitting down to that coveted seat where so many memories have happened? Is it the excitement of the game play or the non-stop cheering of the Section 8 supporters? The experience of the home opener game is all of these things. It is thousands of people coming together for the singular event of 90 minutes of hometown soccer, and in the process, creating memories of it in thousands of different ways.
In sum, the home opener is where everything we hope, demand, and expect of our team crosses the event horizon and passes into uncharted territory, taking us along for a 7-odd-month long adventure that we know as Major League Soccer. Prepare yourselves, fans and supporters. Prepare yourselves, as we are now days away from the moment we have been yearning for since that last whistle blew on a cold, wet day in October. Opening day is upon us.
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