As a native Chicagoan traveling throughout Germany with the U.S. team to write an online journal for captain Claudio Reyna, Eddie Lewis and Pablo Mastroeni, I knew I was going to meet so many amazing people from all over the world. But I didn't anticipate so many of them being from Chicago.
I wore my white Chicago Fire jersey to the team's opening match against the Czech Republic. Within minutes of boarding the train leaving the U.S. team headquarters in Hamburg, I was stopped by a young woman that played soccer for St. Charles High School who acknowledged my Fire jersey. We spoke for several minutes about the Fire, the new stadium and the importance of this World Cup in the eyes of American fans. Little did I know it, but the Fire jersey and similar topics of conversations resonated throughout the day with Chicagoland residents and Fire fans from Schaumburg, Minooka, Lincoln Park, Lincolnshire, Bridgeport, Bronzeville, LaGrange Park and Hammond, Ind.
There were lots of fans in the crowd wearing U.S. team jerseys of DaMarcus Beasley, Carlos Bocanegra and Josh Wolff, who all came up to me to talk about their days at the Fire.
During the post-party at the FIFA FanFest after the U.S. game, a young German woman from Frankfurt who had been to Chicago and to a Fire game said, "Chicago is a great soccer town and they have the best hot dogs I've ever had."
That makes me proud of both being a Fire fan and being able to call my hometown the home of the hot dog from a woman who grew up where the frankfurter was born.
Dan Migala's online journal can be read at http://adidas.usasoccerstars.com. The Chicago-based journalist will be writing Chicago-specific observations for the Chicago Fire throughout his travels in the 2006 World Cup. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.