Engine Company: Set Atlanta on Fire
Seeing The Men in Red play at home is really just half the fun, but not all Fire fans are able to see them anywhere else. To experience the joys of an Away Game by proxy, OTF contributor Jacob Peters provides us some background on Fire supporter group history on-the-road, established rivalries, and some footnotes on how to effectively criticize, troll, and generally enjoy Fire away games. First up, Saturday’s match-up against MLS newbies Atlanta United FC.
Sing in full voice. Hate with reason…
Most rundowns of Fire matches this season come with some history of why particular trips are marked on fan schedules far in advance, and how memories of past trips deepen Fire fandom. But this is Atlanta United FC—a team as new as their name is unoriginal (and nonsensical if you’ve ever experienced the disconnected sprawl that is metro Atlanta). So, in lieu of actual history, here’s a brief history of why first trips have a special spot in the hearts of many a Fire fan.
Beyond the obvious, “It’s new! I’ve never been there!” mentality that boosts attendance numbers, first trips experiences take on mythical proportions, creating stories that live on for years. For example, the first Seattle trip was done in tandem with the Timbers Army (whose team was not in the MLS yet), and was billed as The Allied Invasion.
Fire fans met up in Portland with Timbers fans, saw a game there, took a bus to Seattle to christen an MLS rivalry, got back on the bus to Portland and saw another soccer game in PDX. I hadn’t known the full extent of this Allied Invasion story until I was regaled by the man pictured below right during the trip back from Columbus last week.
The bond between Timbers and Fire fans lives on to this day. I experienced it in Portland two years ago as our combined supporter groups got an entire street to join in an anti-Seattle chant together.
Strong bonds are forged in these environments, especially when you make a legendary dual scarf to commemorate it.
There are similar stories from when Fire supporters welcomed America’s Hat to the league, traveled to to Yankee Stadium, visited Disney World, and our first game against those Sons of B-en from Chester, PA.
Away trips, however, are not all shared chants and scarf exchanges. It is also an opportunity to reflect on all the ways Chicago’s opponent should be ridiculed — and what better way to start off our history with Atlanta than a harsh critique their team crest. For a few years, Chicago was often the first opponent scheduled to play in new stadiums (I deemed in “christening by Fire”), but those stories are for another day… because Bobby Dodd ain’t new.
Burns — A Critique of Real South Atlanta United Lokomotiv Estudiantes FC:
It’s a well known fact that the Florian Crosses emblazoned on our chests are among the best logos in Major League Soccer. (I would still make a few edits, but most MLS teams need full-on rebranding). Which brings us to Atlanta Generic…I mean United FC.
I mean, c’mon, even if we get past that cop-out of a name, this logo is bland crap. Though the crest’s generic-ness does represent the club accurately — Atlanta chose the “United FC” moniker when they could could not come to a consensus on any other name, opting to just copy the most unoriginal descriptor, “United,” from a slew of other established teams that actually had a reason to call themselves “United.” Then, in classic MLS style, they pressured another MLS team already called “United” change their name. Maybe they should re-brand as Atlanta Divisive.
I have a rule about logos: Either your name is your logo (see FedEx), or your logo should communicate your name if all typography is removed. (See: Chicago’s referential firefighter emblem).
Atlanta’s logo, like their team name, is another smash-and-grab job. They took the bold vertical black and red stripe combination of the iconic New York Metro Stars and said “We’re gonna own it!” Take a look at the home jerseys of the team that became New York Red Bull from 1996-2005, and see if you can spot the imposter:
This lazy branding is everything that I don’t like about MLS and Atlanta personified—so maybe it is a crest that tells you everything that you need to know about this franchise. Anyway, let’s move on to why to dislike their fans (or at least a small subset of their fans, since I actually really like my friends from Atlanta I am visiting during the trip [Hi Jack and Dan!]).
First off, throwing beers at opposing fans, referees, players, etc. is unbecoming. Grow up before you become as reviled as the wannabe hooligans of NYCFC and San Jose. Secondly, stop trying to manufacture traditions…
Good God, the drumming. Stop the drumming. This maybe the worst chant ever.
That looks like he’s hammering an oddly shaped golden podium you nimrods. You end up w/ this crap when you have Zero History. Just let these things happen happen organically.
Sound of Sirens — Fire chants for Atlanta:
Speaking of organic, here are some team-specific chants that Fire fans have been using for years —“The Lion Sleeps Tonight” against Orlando, “Yellow Fucking Team” against Columbus, and “Basura Kansas.”
However, since we have no history with Atlanta, there isn’t a whole lot to build off of, except references to “Fire” and Atlanta:
- One idea is to just do the “Worst Chant Ever” and laugh hysterically, but I think it would be lost on most.
- Best idea I’ve heard yet: (care of @) “Gonna Set Your Town On Fire” sung to “Iko Iko“
At-lan-ta and Chi-ca-go were sitting by the FIRE
Chi-ca-go told At-lan-ta we’re gonna set your town on FIRE
Talkin bout FIRE (Hell Yeah)
FIRE (Hell Yeah)
Psycho Psycho Fan Base
Dax and Juninho passing to
Accam and Niko ALL DAY!
- You can follow @CF97Songs on Twitter for more, or at least people sharing ideas.
Away trips are an invaluable opportunity to try out new chants w/ a smaller group before scaling them up for a home game. Still, as you can see from the video above, working out the kinks in wording and drumming before the match is still a necessary step to avoid looking like complete morons.
Watch Commander — Where to See the Game:
So this year as we welcome a new fan base to MLS, and there are multiple supporter’s groups renting out houses and hotel suites, individuals flying down and couples making a weekend of it. We’re meeting up at a nearby bar, getting all of our flags and banners pre-approved hours before the game and tailgating in a lot across from the stadium.
We should have more than 70 people, and stories are bound to emerge. However, if you aren’t one of those that are gearing up for the trek, consider getting out to a bar and watching with some fellow Fire fans. There are more options than ever and two dueling watch parties in North Center.
“Official” Watch Parties
- The Globe Pub near the Irving Park Brown Line just east of Damen. The “official” Section 8 Chicago watch party is going to be here this week, so expect knowledgeable Fire Fan bartenders, and a cadre of fans looking to get a glimpse at what modern Fire vs. Atlanta looks like. Their Saturday specials range from $4 Abbot Ale Drafts to $5 Mimosas and $2 burgers, regardless of a game. Plus $3 shots of Malort in honor of the Fire watch party, which is either a deal, or a deal with the devil. Either way, take full advantage of the many specials on offer.
- Heineken Pub 97 at the Private Bank Fire Pitch (Talman just north of Addison). The Andell Holdings-owned Fire-branded complex will be hosting a watch party like they have been every game with $4 Heineken drafts and $7 Fire-Ritas. So if you love corporate cross-brand synergy, it’s a nice place to watch the game. Also great if you or one of your kids or family members have a rec soccer game on one of the adjacent fields that day.
Watch parties that crop up in the western burbs are a bit of a moving target, but this week a lot of the most ambitious suburban fans I know will actually be in Atlanta, so watch this space for future options.
- Rock Island Public House in Blue Island, 13328 Old Western Ave (OTF Approved.)
- Go Tavern on Armitage just east of Kedzie (Pub to Pitch Partner, OTF Approved.)
- AJ Hudson’s at Grace/Ashland (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- The Atlantic Bar on Lincoln/Winnemac (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- Cleo’s just east of Damen on Chicago (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- Fado on Grand/Clark (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- Galway Arms on Clark/Arlington (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- Kroll’s on 18th/Michigan (Pub to Pitch Partner)
- La Birreria on the 2nd floor of Eataly at Ohio/Wabash (some kind of partner, they had Fire branding all over the place the last time I was there)
- Schubas on Belmont/Southport (2017 Section 8 Chicago ISA Board Meeting Location, 1st Tuesday of every month)
The Outer Limits
If you live far north, south, or west and want to find a watch party near you, just ask around online or in the parking lot before games until you find some fans who live somewhat nearby. Scope out some nearby bars, find a friendly owner and start getting together. That’s al it takes. That’s what I did with some friends in Logan Square, and not only is it how we got a Pub to Pitch location from our hood, it’s also how I met the editor of this here blog. Forge Fire Friendships, they’re hard to burn out.
Kickoff 3pm CT on CSN Chicago