We reported on rumors to that effect last fall and it looks like they could be confirmed very, very soon.
What’s notable is that the venue for the ASG is Soldier Field. The Fire, of course, play in Toyota Park in Bridgeview, home of the 2006 ASG which saw our domestic league heroes pull off a 1-0 win over Chelsea. This time around, MLS would seem to prefer Soldier Field, with it’s central downtown location and increased capacity. Solider Field has a lengthy history of big-ticket games, from opening ceremonies and group stage matches during the 1994 World Cup to the CONCACAF Gold Cup to the Copa América Centenario.
Soldier Field, of course, is also the Fire’s original home before moving to Bridgeview in 2006. The Fire have returned to Soldier Field for big occasions, most notably a summer friendly against Manchester United in 2011.
Assuming the story is indeed confirmed, Fire head coach Veljko Paunović would likely serve as head coach of the MLS All-Star Team. There’s no word on possible opposition, although Manchester United and Barcelona have been floated on social media.
Hot (Time) Take
So there’s a few things going on. First, what this means for the Fire. In recent years, a team hosting the ASG has been a tremendous boost in that or subsequent seasons. Look no further than SKC, or the Timbers, or the Rapids. The last few years have felt as if the Fire have been the weirdo misfit kid that no one wants on their kickball team as far as the rest of the league goes, so Chicago getting another ASG could be a sign that Garber and league’s power brokers are ready to welcome Chicago back into the fold.
Needless to say, this is also potentially a major statement regarding the future of Toyota Park. The stadium location, and the club’s relationship with the Village of Bridgeview, remains one of the Fire’s most vexing off-pitch issues. By choosing Soldier Field as the venue rather than TP, Garber could be tacitly giving Andell Holdings his blessing to pull out of the lease with Bridgeview and facilitate a move elsewhere. A return to Soldier Field? A new stadium in the city? Hard to say, but this is an interesting move from the league, to say the least.
Finally, between Pauno’s surprisingly big off-season moves (what’s good, Dax) and possibly hosting the ASH this summer, could we finally be witnessing the start of the Fire’s turnaround? Dare we dream? Don’t jerk us around, Andy. We’ve been hurt before.