For Fire faithful, 2015 cannot come quickly enough.
2014 has been a no-good, very-bad year for the Men in Red. Saddled by salary cap problems, Chicago staggered to its worst record in its 17 seasons of existence. Since the season ended, the news has been primarily of the negative variety: These guys are definitely not coming back, it says, and maybe some of these guys, too.
The bad-news pile got a tiny bit larger this afternoon, when a pair of simultaneous announcements made it clear that one Charles James Brown - a/k/a CJ Brown, Chicago Fire legend, Ring of Fire member and Frank Yallop's No. 2 - was leaving after a single season on the Fire bench. Brown will assist Jason Kreis in building expansion side New York City FC starting immediately.
Brown did at least seem bummed by leaving, once again, the club where he played throughout his MLS career. "Leaving Chicago Fire is very difficult,” Brown was quoted as saying on NYCFC.com. "This will be my second time leaving a club that has been a major influence on my life. I have a good relationship with everyone at the Club and I truly appreciate all of the Chicago fans, they welcomed me back and it's always been fun."
Then came the part that stings. On the NYCFC site, Brown said this: "But having an opportunity like this, to work with one of my former coaches and play a part in creating history here, is something very special.”
Which is where we leave this bit of news. CJ's gone because, apparently, the possibility of 'creating history' seems more palpable with a club that does not yet exist than with the one whose badge Brown thumped, kissed and wore proudly for 13 seasons.
There's a famous photo of Brown dispensing some of his brand of footballing justice to Carlos Ruiz; that photo sits atop this story. For some of us, this news has given us something we never expected to acquire: A little sympathy for El Pescadito. CJ, we will miss you, again.