Panda’s guide to Chicago Fire

Mike Magee

“Tragi-comic figure”: Fire striker Mike Magee (photo courtesy of Chicago Fire Soccer Club)

In a first ever for the Kenna, this post was guest written by the manager of Team Panda Rules OK, who makes his debut this season. The manager’s account of visiting an MLS game on the weekend makes observations on the football viewing experience across the pond.

THE PANDA’S commitment to world and Jeff Kenna domination occasionally takes him to far-flung cities and underground sporting venues.

This weekend it was the Toyota Park Stadium in Bridgeview, Illinois, to witness Chicago Fire take on New England Revolution.

Having secured a ticket for $35 through the Chicago Fire website, I arrived parched at the stadium via the Windy City’s CTA railroad, one of several Chicago locations you may have seen in The Dark Knight.

The stadium itself was small, in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by a car park full of picnicking and barbecuing families – but unfortunately not a single drinking hole within camel’s distance.

Luckily my $35 ticket included admission to the Miller Lite Party Deck – a flat platform behind one of the goals where you are given a wristband entitling you to two free beers, a bucket of popcorn and a pitifully small hotdog.

Having sated my thirst with Miller Genuine Draft (a throwback to my youth), and witnessed a firework-accompanied murdering of the Star Spangled Banner, I watched the game begin with the lack of “bite” that can only come from a stadium full of American families and devoid of opposition fans.

Two intoxicated Fire fans who attempted to get the ambiance enlivened by shouting abuse at the opposition goalie from approximately 10 metres behind him (“Shuttleworth – you suck”) were swiftly ejected, presumably by one of the ball girls.

They provided the solitary atmosphere of the game, which fell flat despite its significance in the Eastern Conference, the five goals which it contained, and the fact you are allowed to stand to watch the match.

The football itself was technically good, played on the floor, at a semi-pace and without fear that a tackle might be made.

Largely anonymous was the Fire’s big player Mike Magee, a sort of tragi-comic figure who managed to win the man-of-the-match award despite ducking out of every header like a seal scared of the beach ball.

You can pick up a shirt with his name and number on for $149 at the club shop, which is far too much when you consider he is sh1t and the Miller is going for $7.50, although the red shirt is smart.

You can see Magee in action – complete with American Soccer-ball commentary – below.

An alternative version of events can be found on ESPN.