flight arrangements, bus transportation, hotel room assignments, passport collection, game tickets, finding locations to watch late MLS games, taking attendance on the team bus, game day meal coordination, etc. In-season details like destination cities and hotels are known in advance. But the preseason travel is a different monster altogether.
"Preseason is a long process,"said Stern. "Planning generally starts in September and continues all winter. The three main important things we look for in planning preseason is good weather, good training fields and good competition to play scrimmage games."
The Fire are often solicited by facilities around the globe.
"We were approached by a group in Argentina," he said. "I traveled to Buenos Aires to look around. At the end of the day, it was not in our best interest to go there."
Stern's information is reviewed by the coaching staff, which ultimately decides which of the trips the team should make. Hopefully it all goes right for Stern and the team this preseason, as the team is scheduled to make stops in Florida, Mississippi and Mexico for the next eight weeks before returning home to Chicago on Apr. 2 for the home opener against FC Dallas.
I'm jazzed about the FireWorks For Kids Kickoff Luncheon on Mar. 29. Get your tickets now and get up-close to Fire players and some of the biggest soccer personalities in Chicagoland. Fans will be pleased to know former Fire superstar and Hall of Famer Eric Wynalda will be the keynote speaker at the event. He's a guy who will surely light up the room with great stories and insight on the upcoming season.
The silent auction gives you a chance to walk away with nice gifts, autographs from the new-look Fire and photos with Sparky and the team. I look forward to seeing you there!
Chris Doran is the radio play-by-play and television sideline reporter for the Chicago FIRE. He welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.