Fire welcomes D.C. United for first-place fight in East


Fire history vs. D..C United
The Fire has never led the all-time regular season series with United, which currently stands deadlocked at 7-7-3. However, Chicago has pulled even in the rivalry on three separate occasions, with the latest occurrence coming via a 1-0 victory on Apr. 24 at RFK Stadium that gave the "Men in Red" their first victory of the 2004 campaign. The Fire lost the 2003 season series 1-2-1, but the club has been on a roll against D.C. after winning the last four overall match-ups, including a pair of 2-0 victories in the 2003 Eastern Conference Semifinals. The two clubs split last year's season series in Chicagoland, pushing the Fire's record at home against United to 4-2-2. In a pair of matches contested at Naperville's Cardinal Stadium, D.C. defeated Chicago 2-1 on July 12 before the Fire got its revenge with a 3-1 victory on Aug. 16.

Home Sweet Homestand Comes to an End
The Fire will wrap up its season-long three-game homestand this Saturday when it hosts D.C. United on the shores of Lake Michigan. The Fire will look to take advantage of Major League Soccer's best home-field advantage, as the "Men in Red" have racked up a career home record of 62-21-12 (.716), placing them just ahead of the Los Angeles Galaxy's 84-30-13 (.713) mark at home. Chicago's mark is even more impressive in games played at both the old and new Soldier Field, where the Fire has won nearly 75 percent (47-15-4, .742) of its matches. The Fire's supremacy at home has allowed it to surpass the MetroStars in the all-time home wins chart, despite having started play in the League two years later. Chicago's 62 wins in 95 games places the squad ahead of the MetroStars (60 wins in 126 games) and puts the team just one behind the New England Revolution (63 wins in 126 games) in the category.

Fire welcomes Klopas into "Ring of Fire" as part of "Homecoming Weekend" festivities
The Chicago Fire will celebrate its proud history Saturday at Soldier Field when it holds the first official gathering of the Chicago Fire Players Alumni Association (CFPAA) and inducts former forward Frank Klopas into the "Ring of Fire" as part of the festivities surrounding that afternoon's match against D.C. United. The Fire-United match will be preceded by Klopas' addition to the "Ring of Fire," a tribute created last year in an effort to honor members of the team who have made the Chicago Fire a successful organization and displayed the qualities of leadership, dedication and integrity. Only members of the "Ring of Fire" are allowed to elect the newest member, meaning last year's inaugural inductee, former Fire captain and current United Head Coach Peter Nowak, was responsible for naming the homegrown Chicago legend to the distinguished group.

U.S. National Team star Claudio Reyna to appear at Saturday's Fire-United Match
U.S. National Team midfielder Claudio Reyna will be in attendance at Soldier Field prior to Saturday's Fire-United contest to sign copies of his new book, More Than Goals. Reyna will be signing his books on Club Level Two at the lakefront stadium from 1:45-2:45 p.m. and will also be made available to the media during halftime of the match on the press box level. The veteran midfielder, who plays his club ball for English Premiership side Sunderland - became only the seventh player in U.S. National Team history to make 100 appearances for the Senior side on Wednesday night when he was named to the starting 11 for the U.S.'s 4-0 victory over Honduras in Foxboro, Mass.

Quick kicks vs. United
•Former Fire goalkeeper Zach Thornton will also be in attendance at Soldier Field for Saturday's contest, which is the first official gathering for the Chicago Fire Players Alumni Association (CFPAA). Thornton, who departed the Fire in January to continue his career with Portuguese First Division side Benfica, remains the MLS career leader in wins and holds Fire records for games played, games started and minutes played.
•Chicago hit the century mark last Saturday by winning its 100th regular season contest. The Fire's all-time record of 100-63-27 gives the club the highest winning percentage in MLS history (.597), ranking just above the Los Angeles Galaxy's 137-89-28 (.594) mark.