In July 2010, one of my favorite players ever was heading to the Chicago Fire. Former Arsenal Invincible and noted underwear model Freddie Ljungberg joined the Fire in a trade with the Seattle Sounders.
As the only guy to play for both Arsenal (my favorite Premier League club), and the Fire (my favorite MLS side), it was a no brainer—I had to get Freddie’s Fire jersey. At the time, I was still living in Milwaukee, where I was working for a local TV station. On top of that, my first son was about to be born. Because life got in the way, I never did make it to a game during Freddie’s 15 match run with the Fire, so I never bought the shirt.
Turns out, that was probably a good thing. Ljungberg scored a couple goals during his brief Fire stint, but he definitely wasn’t the Freddie I remembered from Highbury. That fall, he left to join Celtic, and his Fire career came to a close.
If I had dropped $100+ on that shirt, I would have been pretty disappointed. I mean, I still love the guy, so maybe I wouldn’t feel as bad as someone who snagged a Shaun Maloney shirt or a David Arshakyan jersey. But, the Freddie near-miss is why I almost never buy soccer jerseys with a name on the back. The only Fire jersey I own with a name and number belongs to Bastian Schweinsteiger. Even then, I waited until Basti was in Chicago for a good year and a half before I bought it. I feel like I could rock that at Soldier Field (in a non media capacity, of course) and no one would bat an eye. He’s a legend.
I did get burned once, though. In 2014, I ordered a U.S. “bomb pop” jersey with Landon Donovan on the back. I figured it was safe to assume LD was about to play in his fourth and final World Cup. Clearly, Jurgen Klinsmann had other ideas.
Our Red Stars editor, TJ, grabbed Sam Kerr “Elevation Kits” for himself and his daughter last season. Sam left for Chelsea a few months later, but as is the case with Schweinsteiger, having a Sam Kerr Chicago Red Stars jersey isn’t a bad thing.
Buying a printed jersey is a gamble, right? Do you go all-in and buy a young star’s jersey, or do you wait and take a more conservative approach? Does a player have to earn the right to be on the back of your jersey? We’re really interested to hear from you on this, so let us know on the comments!