Fire-D.C. in twinbill with Mexican clubs
The Chicago Fire has announced that the club will host a doubleheader on Saturday, Sept. 4 in conjunction with broadcast partner Univision Radio as part of its annual Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night at Soldier Field. In the first match, the Fire will host its Eastern Conference rival D.C. United - featuring former Fire captain and current D.C. Head Coach Peter Nowak and teenage phenom Freddy Adu - at 7 p.m. CT, while the second game will feature popular Mexican side Club America against Pachuca in a clash of Mexican First Division teams. Kick-off for the Fire-United contest has been moved up 30 minutes from its originally scheduled time of 7:30 p.m. to accommodate the doubleheader. The Sept. 4 twin bill will be the Fire's third soccer doubleheader in 2004 and the second featuring teams from Mexico's First Division, which began its COMEX Apertura season last weekend.
Tickets to the doubleheader are now on sale, with individual game tickets ranging from $20 (Firehouse) to $45 (VIP). Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster at www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 312-559-1212. Tickets can also be purchased at the Chicago Fire offices, 980 N. Michigan, Suite 1998 in Chicago, Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. For more information please call 1-888-MLS-FIRE.
2004 marks the fourth consecutive year that the Fire and Budweiser will host Hispanic Heritage Night. This season's edition of the annual celebration will include the popular Hispanic Festival, featuring musical and dance acts representing various Latin American cultures, before the match at Gate 0 of Soldier Field and the naming this year's Hispanic Heroes, a collection of Chicagoland Hispanic citizens recognized for their contributions to the Latin community, during a halftime ceremony on the field. The Fire and Budweiser will also recognize this year's three organizations - El Valor, Little Village Chamber of Commerce and the Illinois State Police Association - participating in the Budweiser-Fire Futbolazo program prior to the Fire-United match. Budweiser will donate $500 to each organization for every goal the Fire scores during that night's match.
"The Fire is extremely proud to bring Club America and Pachuca to Chicago as part of this year's Budweiser Hispanic Heritage Night," said Fire General Manager Peter Wilt. "Chicagoland's Hispanic community and friends of soccer have helped the popularity of Hispanic Heritage Night grow each and every year, and with the Fire's important match against D.C. United and the exhibition between two of Mexican soccer's finest clubs, we are confident that this year's celebration will be the biggest yet."
Both Club America and Pachuca opened their 2004 COMEX Apertura seasons last weekend with victories, Pachuca beating the Fire's sister club, Monarcas Morelia, 2-0 on the road Saturday and Club America defeating First Division newcomers Dorados 3-2 at home on Sunday. The teams will have the first weekend in September off as the Mexican League yields to FIFA during its international play window on Sep. 4 and 5.
Since its creation on October 12, 1916, Club America has grown to become one of the most popular and successful clubs in Mexican soccer history. Since joining Mexico's first professional league in 1944, the club has enjoyed plenty of success, as evidenced by its record 13 League titles and six crowns in Cup competitions. America has claimed the championship of North America - the CONCACAF Champions Cup - on four occasions (1977, 1987, 1990 & 1992) and recently reached the quarterfinals of the prestigious Copa Libertadores tournament, the club championship of South America.
The new manager of Club America is Oscar Ruggieri, a former defender on Argentina's 1986 World Cup winning side that has also coached rivals Guadalajara (Chivas) and U.A.G. (Tecos) in the past. Club America's General Manager Luis Roberto Alves ("Zague") is a former forward that is considered one of the most popular players to ever suit up for both Club America and the Mexican National Team. Club America has also assembled a talented roster of players that expects to bring home a title during the current Apertura season. In the back, America features one of the world's brightest young goalkeeping talents in Guillermo Ochoa, a 19-year-old that was named to Mexico's U-23 National Team that competed in the Athens Olympic Games this past week. Longtime Club America and Mexican National Team member Duilio Davino, who is playing in his eighth year with the "Águilas," anchors the defense once again, while his "Tricolors" teammate Paval Pardo will maestro the midfield, as he has since joining the squad in 1999. The goal scoring duties for America will fall to a pair of South Americans - former Lazio and Argentine National Team forward Claudio Lopez and Chilean striker Reinaldo Navia.
After forming in 1900, it took nearly a century for Pachuca to capture glory in the First Division of Mexican soccer. However, after disbanding twice and falling victim to relegation on three occasions, Pachuca has established itself as one of Mexican soccer's best teams in recent seasons, garnering three tournament championships in the last five years, including the 2003 Apertura title. In addition, Pachuca has seen success at the international level, having won the 2002 CONCACAF Champions Cup and making the tournament's quarterfinals earlier this year. Pachuca's new head coach, Argentine Ruben Romano, will be familiar to fans of Monarcas Morelia, as he led the "Monarchs" from 2002-04. In defense, captain Alberto Rodriguez, a veteran who has represented Mexico at the youth and Senior levels, defender Manuel Vidrio and longtime goalkeeper Miguel Angel Calero lead the "Tuzos," while the Pachuca offensive attack is headed by forwards Sergio Santana, Juan Cacho and Walter Guglielmone.