Welcome to The Cheap Seats, our new semi-regular series of personal reflections from Chicago Soccer games.
Despite some forecasts of rain, last Saturday was a beautiful day – sunny but still chilly. My friends and I took the trek down to beautiful Bridgeview to watch our Men in Red against Sporting Kansas City.
If you are from the Northwest part of Chicagoland, there are really only two options to get down to Toyota Park. You could drive down there, or you can take public transportation, which for some is an adventure in itself. (My suburbanite is showing.)
We left the suburbs via the CTA Blue Line around 2:00 p.m. and we got to the Loop around 2:50ish. Since the food at Toyota Park is quite expensive for the portions you are getting, (what is it, like $3 for pop?) we decided to swing by Devil Dawgs for a quick bite. I highly recommend the double morning burger when you are visiting here. We left Devil Dawgs around 3:15 p.m. and found our way to the Roosevelt Orange Line. From there it took about 30 minutes to get down to Midway.
Now at Midway you have to take the Toyota Park Express. It’s about a 15-minute ride on a Pace bus. The cool thing about Pace is that most of their busses have wi-fi, so you can spout out some last-minute banter.
After a trip through an industrial park, we finally arrived at Toyota Park at 4:30 p.m.
We picked up our tickets at will call and found ourselves a spot on the Harlem End.
There was a banner above Section 110 stating, “NOT HERE FOR A NICE NIGHT OUT.” This was in response to Michael De Leeuw’s recent comments.
After the national anthem was played, the tifo was displayed and it was finally game time.
The lads started out poorly. They couldn’t even string out a couple of passes. It was so painful to watch.
On the 9th minute after some horrendous defensive work, Felipie Gutierrez scored the first. The mood dropped but the folks here in Section 8 still sang their heart out.
As the game continued the Fire looked lost out on the field. Tony Tchani was looking lost out there and Bastian Schweinsteiger became a #8. There were even moments where it seemed like Luis Solignac became a fullback.
Just before half-time, Johnny Russell extended SKC’s lead.
During the break, I needed a snack to drown my sorrows in. I decided to try out the “freshly squeezed lemonade stand.” It ended up being $5 dollars for a drink and it wasn’t worth it.
With another disappointment lingering in my head it was time to head back to the Harlem End.
This time, the Fire looked like they cared, they came out guns blazing. And on the 70th minute, it seems like the Fire were going to win it all. Schweinsteiger lobbed a great pass to Aleksandar Katai who gave us all hope with a beauty of a finish.
“Two more goals!” shouted everyone here in the Harlem End.
Nemanja Nikolic tied it up a few minutes later and everyone was delirious, and on the 82nd minute, Niko gave us the lead. Forget that night in Istanbul, this night in Bridgeview was going to be magnificent. Then it all came tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down.
It all returned to nothing for the Fire. SKC exposed our defense and caught Richard Sanchez off guard and equalized by a goal from Jimmy Medranda. Moments later Gutierrez sealed the winner.
There were small little chants of “One more goal,” but we all knew that it was over.
Disappointed, but not surprised my friends and I stayed to see off the players. Fair play to Tchani as he high-fived the fans as he was leaving the pitch.
Basti was one of the last players out on the pitch. He looked disappointed like the rest of us, but he managed to give out a small smile.