One of my favorite lines from a movie is this:
"It's not Show Friends, it's Show Business" - Bob Sugar, Jerry Maguire
I've even caught myself uttering it occasionally over the years.
This past week, I finally understood why it's such a cold statement.
Next year, a great friend of mine will not be on the sidelines of my favorite MLS team, The Chicago Fire, because the "team decided to go in a different direction."
I sure hope that "different direction" is a clear upgrade. Meaning, they must be looking outside the league for a replacement.
Here is a man who has motivated a team to play beyond themselves for two straight years and get to the conference final only to lose on penalties. For those of you not watching - basically, he had two "big name" stars both of whom were/are on the decent from their highest form. Two players that could not have been more opposite in nature and play. Apart from the superstars -he had a solid goalkeeper who more than earned his pay on many occasions plus a supporting cast, that was average at best with a few potential shining stars; it was a miracle that they got as far as they did these past two years.
I have hesitated all week to write because I am, admittedly, emotionally attached to the situation. After all, the man in question is my friend and we worked closely together the first three years of the Chicago Fire's existence. He was one of two partners who helped me launch the FireWorks for Kids Foundation in 1998 now known as the Chicago Fire Foundation.
But, now looking at it almost a week removed and having slept on many versions of this post the facts are clear.
He was a tenacious player when he played and opened the league as his team's best defender in it's inaugural year in 1996 (there are many who say he could have challenged the league's selection of John Doyle that year - I'm just sayin.) .
He played in a few leagues before MLS and knows the American soccer system as good as anyone.
He has tremendous experience as an assistant and rightfully earned a chance to head coach.
He has a winning record in each of his two seasons as a head coach with two trips to the conference finals.
I get it - no bling - no thing.
I just hope another MLS team scoops him up fast and can't wait for his return to Toyota Park.