In this important World Cup year, the Chicago Fire have pieced together their own international flavor. On May 19 and 22, the Fire are hosting the first-ever Chicago Sister Cities International Cup at Toyota Park. And the Fire are bringing in some historic talent -- Poland's Legia Warsaw (13-time Polish Cup winner), France's Paris Saint-Germain (two-time Ligue 1 champs), and Serbia's Red Star Belgrade (winner of the 1991 Champions League).
The cultural connection of these countries' teams to the diverse Chicago population was a dynamic that immediately struck a chord with the Fire as they developed the Sister Cities concept.
"When we were looking at a profile of the things we wanted to do, this was a constant," Fire president Dave Greeley said. "This is a great opportunity because of the multicultural communities in our market, and we want to tap into the world-caliber soccer clubs. We want the Fire competing at the international stage in our hometown."
The mini-tournament opens with the Fire taking on Paris Saint-Germain at 7 p.m. May 19, followed by Legia Warsaw vs. Red Star Belgrade. All matches take place at Toyota Park in Bridgeview.
With the addition of this tournament, the Fire have rescheduled their May 22 MLS match against the Colorado Rapids. It now takes place at 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 9. But the schedule switch is well worth the effort.
"Friendly matches are not a new concept, but this puts our own stake in the ground -- an annual event that continues to put the Fire and soccer at an international stage," Greeley said. "And with the World Cup this year, this made a lot of sense."
"These types of events play an important role in showcasing our city's diversity and further demonstrate our reputation as an international sports city," said Mayor Richard Daley, an honorary chairman of Chicago Sister Cities.
The Sister Cities Cup is included in Fire season ticket holder packages. The team will announce individual game tickets at a later date.