The Chicago Fire head to Columbus this Saturday for the final match at Historic Crew Stadium, a place that’s played an oversized role in the history of soccer in the United States.
It seems small and dated now, but when it opened in 1999, it was incredible—the first soccer-specific stadium in MLS. It’s gone on to host multiple MLS Cups, Christian Pulisic’s USMNT debut, four USMNT Dos a Cero wins over Mexico (and one, ugly 2-1 loss to Mexico after that), a scoreboard fire, and many, many other matches.
It is a terrible, yet wonderful, place.
It’s fitting that the Fire will be in town Saturday to help their old rivals close that chapter in the club’s history—and, perhaps, spoil the celebration.
“We’re playing against the champions in their stadium,” Fire coach Raphael Wicky said. “We know it’s gonna be a tough game. But we also know that we, on a good day, when we are very focused and concentrated, we can make results against any team.”
After the match, the Crew will move closer to downtown Columbus, in a new, $313 million, 20,000 seat stadium called Lower.com Field. The final match at the old building is expected to be a sellout. It’ll be a tough atmosphere for the Fire to overcome, especially for a team that hasn’t won on the road since October 2019.
“We know they want to celebrate, but that’s nothing which plays a big role in our preparation,” Wicky said. “We go there and we want to play our role. We want to play our game and we want to get a result. That’s what we are focusing on and if the stadium is full, then that’s better for everyone.”
The match kicks off at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, with Arlo White and Tony Meola on the call on WGN-TV and CFFC Live. For White, it’ll be the first of four matches this summer on the broadcast, and the first away match the Fire’s broadcast team has called in person since a 1-1 draw with the New England Revolution in March 2020.