On May 9th 2012, CJ Brown will be inducted into the Chicago Fire’s Ring of Fire at Toyota Park during half-time of tonight’s game between the Fire and Real Salt Lake. I will be there to honor a true MLS legend and perhaps the most humble star the club has had. CJ retired in 2010 following 13 years with the club - the last Fire original, who played on the inaugural 1998 MLS Cup and US Open Cup winning team.
Brown holds the club record for most MLS regular season appearances (296), MLS Cup playoff appearances (35) and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup appearances (25). Serving as Fire captain from 2008-09, Brown’s 372 appearances across all competitions are also a club record and rank him third all-time behind only Jaime Moreno (415) and Cobi Jones (392) for most competitive games played for one MLS club.
He joins a ring consisting of former Fire captain Peter Nowak, former Fire defender Lubos Kubik, former Fire forward and current head coach Frank Klopas, the Fire’s first General Manager Peter Wilt, former Fire head coach Bob Bradley and former Fire midfielder Armas in the club’s Ring of Fire.
Most importantly, CJ is the Chicago Fire, and made real the words tradition, honor, passion.
If only he was still at the club (he’s now an assistant coach for the visiting Real Salt Lake tonight). Cheers CJ, come back soon.
All pictures by official Section 8 Chicago photographers Marty Groark and Conrad Akier.