After months of murmured rumors, the Chicago Fire announced that Fire original and all-time leading scorer Ante Razov will be the next member of the Ring of Fire. The induction will take place October 3 before the New England match. It is assumed that the other members of the Ring of Fire - Peter Nowak, Frank Klopas, Lubos Kubik, Peter Wilt, Bob Bradley, Chris Armas, and C.J. Brown - along with the club's chairman, Andrew Hauptman, will be present for the induction.
Razov's argument for a place among the top echelon of Fire greats grows as time passes; 76 goals in 136 appearances was, perhaps, an accomplishment that went under-appreciated in its day. Razov was part of Fire teams that won five trophies (the 98 MLS Cup, the '98, '00 and '03 US Open Cups, and the '03 Supporters Shield). A left-footer whose finishing prowess could turn half-chances into goals, Razov was named MLS Best XI in 2003 after racking up 14 goals and 6 assist for a dominant Fire side.
It is about time that the team's most dangerous striker ever gets inducted. Yes, it took some time; the others in the Ring of Fire definitely were worthy of the selection before him, but this guy gave it his all while in Chicago.
From being a fringe player while with the LA Galaxy, Peter Wilt and Bob Bradley saw something in his left foot and definitely got the most out of him. Who could forget when he scored the first ever hat trick for the club when they played in Miami versus the Fusion? The thing I loved about him is his shamelessness - if Ante had a decent look on goal, he would have a go. Yes, some of his shots were off-target, but being MLS all-time leader in shots taken (926), putting just under half of them on target (441) is excellent for any No. 9.
One of my favorite memories of Ante came after the 2000 US Open Cup Final at Soldier Field. Ante was walking about with such a huge smile on his face, all the while wearing an Ultras scarf wrapped around his head. That image will always be ingrained in my head, and will remain one of my favorite Fire memories.
What's yours? Are you glad to see another original and legend be inducted?