Going to away Chicago Fire games is always exciting, but this particular trip was even more exciting than previous ones - we were in a fabulous city, playing at a historic stadium (Stade olympique), and Montreal Impact were playing their first ever home game in MLS.
If you’ve never been to an away game for your club then you might not know that before the match all the traveling supporters meet with one another in a designated area to pick up tickets and walk into the stadium together as a group. An unbelievable atmosphere of camaraderie is created when an away group walks into the stadium together, whether it is 25, 300, or 1,000 supporters, the unique experience is almost indescribable. While hooliganism isn’t a word tossed around when talking about the MLS, it only takes one person from the home or away club to start a little controversy, so walking in as a group also helps as a security measure - this is usually just an extra safety measure on top of official security that is often provided by the home club.
This game wasn’t any different. Most Section 8 Chicago members (#S8OT - Section 8 On Tour) met at the Viau subway station just outside the stadium. (Let me tell you what a luxury it was to be able to take the train directly to the stadium, since in Chicago - I mean Bridgeview, IL - we don’t have a quick public transit route to games at Toyota Park.) From the station we all walked the short distance to the stadium together where we met with other S8 folks, who drove to the game. The horn was played, chants were sung, and we all waited for Montreal security to let us into the stadium.
When we were finally allowed into the stadium we found ourselves purchasing $7 coors light and potato chips. I guess they wanted to keep all the tasty pizza slices, nachos, and hot dogs to themselves! In a dark corner of the stadium we sat surrounded by security and realized that if we sat in the actual seats assigned to us that we wouldn’t be able to see one of the goals on the field. (Thanks, Impact.) Luckily, security kept Impact fans out of the section next to us, so we were able to spread ourselves out a bit and keep our eye on the goal that Oduro would later score on.
The game overall wasn’t an exciting one. Montreal had more attacking opportunities against the Fire in the first half, splitting our defense on numerous occasions. Luckily, Paolo Tornaghi, who was debuting in his first official Fire match, was able to keep a clean sheet in the first half. In the 56th minute Impact scored their first goal on home turf in league history with a cross from Sanna Nyassi that was headed in by Davy Arnaud. Montreal held the lead for 15 minutes, but Dominic Oduro netted a tying goal in the 71st minute of play, which was assisted by Sebastian Grazzini. Luckily a shot from Montreal in the final seconds of the game smacked the crossbar (or was it the post), which saved the fire from a loss and gave both teams their first point of the 2012 season. (Game highlights here.)
The atmosphere at Olympic Stadium wasn’t as impressive as I was expecting. From the corner we were sitting in, it was nearly impossible to hear the chants from Montreal’s supporters, though their visual display, bouncing, and clapping was exciting to watch at moments. A few members of their supporters’ group did come over to our group and introduced themselves by shaking each of our hands, which I thought was a classy gesture in comparison to those dressed as leprechauns, who were continuously trying to heckle us. Overall though, the Montreal fans were not as loud as I anticipated; however, they were certainly exceptional at booing the Fire and doing the wave.
In the end, the trip was a successful one filled with many good memories, as can be expected from the S8OT crew. Thank you to Montreal, my traveling buddies, Chicago Fire, S8OT, and Chicago Fire for another unforgettable experience.
Footy love, nikhak