The Chicago Fire will welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Toyota Park in an international friendly on Saturday, July 26 at 7:00 p.m. (ESPN 2) This is just the fifth time that the Fire will welcome an English side to the Chicagoland area. The Men in Red are 2-2-0 in international friendlies against clubs from England, including Aston Villa, Manchester United, Everton and Derby County.
I did a preview on the Tottenham Hotspur vs Chicago Fire game for the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication. An excerpt is below:
The Spurs play in their home games at White Hart Lane, which is similar to Wrigley Field—an outdated stadium nestled in a residential neighborhood on the north side of a metropolis. But the Chicago Cubs analogies end there. Tottenham Hotspur has a tradition of winning, having taken the Football Association Challenge Cup, or FA Cup, eight times and the UEFA Cup twice.
“Wrigley Field is 100 years old this year; White Hart Lane feels like it’s 100 years old, but it’s even older,” said Ian Williams, a member of the Chicago Spurs Supporters Club. “You walk past people’s homes that are right there, and you get into the stadium and it’s a completely different world. I would say Wrigley is very much like that.”
Williams is a West London expatriate who now lives in North Center. White Hart Lane, opened in 1899, has a capacity of 36,284. Wrigley, opened in 1914, has a capacity of 41,072.
I also had an exclusive conversation with Chicago Fire Chief Operating Officer Atul Khosla.
“The atmosphere at Toyota Park is always fantastic, regardless of who the Fire are playing. For the Spurs game, it will be especially fun for Chicago to go up against London from an international competitive standpoint. We expect Toyota Park to be full, our supporters to be loud, and have fantastic soccer played on the field. As a club, we welcome the opportunity to host a Barclays Premier League team like the Spurs. As the professional soccer team in town, this game allows us to introduce the Fire to an additional group of soccer fans in the Chicagoland area and hopefully convert some Tottenham/EPL supporters to Fire fans,” Khosla said.
For Tottenham Hotspur supporters traveling to Chicago, here’s some detailed information on where Spurs supporters gather locally.
As we’ve chronicled here, the EPL has really taken off this year, both locally in Chicago and in America in general.
I also asked Khosla to describe the makeup and rich history of Tottenham Hotspur:
“This will be their first time here and we can’t wait to show off our city and show them how much Chicagoans and Fire supporters are passionate about soccer. While they are an English Club, and have a tremendous following in the U.K., they also have a wide-ranging networking supporters groups in the U.S., including the “Chicago Spurs.” The Spurs have a ton of history, having won the FA Cup eight times and the UEFA Cup twice, and they currently sit sixth in the premier league table. Their roster boasts U.S. Men’s National Team legend Brad Friedel, English internationals, Andros Townsend and Kyle Walker, Brazilian internationals Paulinho and Sandro, Spanish international striker Roberto Soldado and French international captain Hugo Lloris.”
Paul M. Banks owns The Sports Bank.net, an affiliate of Fox Sports. He’s also a frequent guest on national talk radio. Banks is a former contributor to NBC Chicago and the Washington Times, who’s been featured on the History Channel. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks