Brian McBride Excited About Chicago Fire’s Move Back to City (Exclusive)

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The Chicago Fire are currently exploring every avenue possible towards restoring/gaining relevance in the nation’s third largest market. The move back to the city, or let’s be honest back to Chicago (because seriously, the suburban village of Bridgeview is definitely not Chicago) isn’t totally finalized yet, but it’s in the works, and almost everybody is excited about it.

That includes club legend and homegrown star Brian McBride, who was gracious enough to grant us an exclusive interview this past week. McBride, who is among the Fire’s all-time top 15 in goals scored, despite only plying his trade with the club for three seasons.

We caught up to the Arlington Heights native at the Gold Cup Station, a fun interactive media and fan event staged at Union Station, ahead of Sunday night’s Gold Cup Final between Mexico and the U.S. at Chicago Soldier Field.

For part one of the Brian McBride exclusive (discussing Christian Pulisic and Chelsea) go here. For part two (discussing Gregg Berhalter and the USMNT, go here) We asked the fifth leading scorer in USA history why the Chicago Fire just can’t get it right, despite all the talent and investment in the roster. (The Fire are currently third in Major League Soccer in total team payroll)

“There’s a part to soccer that a lot of people may not understand- building a team takes time,” McBride answered.

“It’s been a long time, since 2009 that we were really competitive. I’m talking about consistently stepping on to the field and expecting the Fire to win.”

2009 marked the second straight second place finish and MLS semifinals appearance for the Chicago Fire. Since then they have not won a postseason game, and only qualified twice.

Aside from that April to July run in 2017, the Fire have not shown Major League Soccer anything superlative or even really special during this past decade.

They have won four U.S. Open Cups (however, the most recent of which was in 2006), and with the exception of this season, have consistently made at least solid showings, if not deep runs in the tournament.

However, there is absolutely no reason that a franchise in a market this large, with all that they have going for them, should be this mediocre (and often a lot less than mediocre).

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Last night we saw what the Fire can actually be, when they play up to their potential and their pay grade. In handing Atlanta United the worst loss in their short franchise history, the Fire rolled up some club records, including most goals scored in a half.

However, performances like this have been few and far between.

“There was a lot of stuff that needed to be fixed behind the scenes, and I think they’re doing a good job of that,” Brian McBride articulated.

“What exactly, I’ll leave them to explain to you, but I’m happy to see them moving to the city- I think that will help long term with the building of the team.”

“It’ll be great not just for the Fire but for soccer fans in general.”

The Fire are working on a deal to play their home games once again in Soldier Field, the venue they called home from their founding in 1998-2001, and then again from 2003-2005.

It’s not just the distance from the city center that makes their current home of Seat Geek Stadium such an unattractive location. From downtown, it takes well over an hour to drive there at high traffic times. At extremely high traffic times, it can take almost 90 minutes to get to the stadium from The Loop.

And forget public transportation options, as those are few and far between.

Having the team back downtown, and accessible by CTA, would be a game changer.

“In the summer, Chicago is a great place to visit,” McBride added. “You get people coming into the city, watch a game, and then go out (on the town).”

“I’ve had countless friends tell me ‘I’d go to a game in the city, but I’m not going to drive to Bridgeview and then have to drive into the city and then have to drive home, it’s just not something a lot of people want to do.”

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Right now, the Chicago Fire are certainly in “focus group mode” as they’re hearing everybody out in terms of ideas about how to make the franchise all that it can possibly be.

Their former striker, Brian McBride, raised a lot of good points here.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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