The Chicago Fire has announced that the club will host a doubleheader on Saturday, July 17 featuring the Fire versus the MetroStars at 7 p.m. CT and Mexican club favorites Monarcas de Atletico Morelia facing Necaxa at 9:30 p.m. at Soldier Field. The Fire's contest against the MetroStars was previously scheduled to take place at 7:30 p.m. but has been moved a half hour earlier to accommodate the doubleheader. Tickets to the doubleheader will go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m. CT.
Individual game tickets for the doubleheader range 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.
"Our partnership with Monarcas Morelia has allowed us to do wonderful things in the U.S. and in Mexico," said Fire general manager Peter Wilt. "This doubleheader is one of these great benefits as it will showcase fine teams from each country. The Fire-MetroStars games are always exciting, close matches, but it's also going to be a very important conference game. With the large Michoacan contingent residing in Chicago, we feel that Monarcas will provide Mexican soccer fans a chance to see their new-look club up close as well as a great rival in Necaxa."
The Mexican teams are expected to field their full squads as they prepare to enter the 2004 COMEX Apertura (Fall) season in August. The "Monarchs" have recently hired their second coach in two seasons. Uruguayan Eduardo Acevedo last week joined the club as its new head coach, replacing Antonio Mohamed. Acevedo, 44, arrives in Morelia after spending two seasons with Mexican First Division club Tecos of Guadalajara (2003-04). Acevedo made his coaching debut in Guadalajara, leading Tecos to a 9-8-4 record in 2003 (Apertura) and going 3-9-2 in 2004 (Clausura).
The club has also re-acquired Morelia fan favorite Jose Antonio "Tato" Noriega, who spent the 2003 and 2004 Clausura, as well as the 2003 Apertura seasons with Santos. Prior to that, the 34-year-old midfielder spent the 2000-2002 seasons as a "Monarca."
Monarcas Morelia was founded as a second division team in 1924 and in 1974 was promoted to the first division, where it has enjoyed most of its success, capturing the Mexican League "Invierno" (Fall) Championship in 2000 and finishing as runners-up in 2001. The two-time (2002 and 2003) CONCACAF Champions Cup runners-up will be looking to start afresh alongside Acevedo after the club failed to reach the playoffs for the second straight time last season, finishing with a 6-4-9 record and 22 points.
Led by head coach Raul Arias Rosas, Club Necaxa was founded in 1922 and has captured three Mexican League championships (1994-95, 1995-96, and 1998) while finishing up as a runner-up three times in the team's history. In 2004, the team capped off the Clausura season fourth in their group with a 5-8-6 record and 21 points. The club has boosted the likes of Mexican internationals Garcia Aspe, Cuauhtemoc Blanco, Adolfo Rios and is currently led by former Pumas megastar Braulio Luna.
The second game is presented by the Fire's broadcast partner, Univision Radio, with a disc jockey exhibition match between sister stations Que Buena WOJO 105.1 FM and Viva WVIV 93.5 and 103.1 FM scheduled at halftime of the Mexican friendly game.