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Fire Halfway Home to Toyota Park?

By Todd McClamroch in News on May 8, 2006 3:20PM

Chicago Fire LogoThe Chicago Fire earned another road point this weekend when they escaped Kansas City with a draw. The Fire were outshot 20-4 but managed to tie 1-1 thanks to some stellar goal keeping by Zach Thorton that included stopping an Eddie Johnson penalty kick.

Kansas City remains Major League Soccer's top team (4-1-1) while the Fire are fifth in the East Division. The Fire are managing to stay within reach of the top half of the division during their grueling nine-game road trip and are currently within a point of the New England Revolution and Columbus Crew who are tied for third place in the East. On paper the Fire look to have a great opportunity to score a few wins in the coming weeks. Of the four remaining games on the road trip only Houston (4-2-0) has a winning record while two of their opponents, New York Red Bulls (0-1-4) and Real Salt Lake (0-5-1) are still looking for their first victory. The Fire will also get a chance to take on struggling Chivas USA (1-2-1) before returning to Bridgeview Stadium / Toyota Park (more on that in a moment). With the Fire likely to lose no stars to the World Cup and having 70% of their games at home after this road trip the Fire could move their way up to the top of the division.

The biggest question for the Fire is what the name of their stadium will be when they return to Chicago. For a while it looked as if Bridgeview Bank was going to earn the naming rights but that deal fell through. More recently there has been a rumor that Toyota might sign a sponsorship deal to name the facility Toyota Park. Fuel was added to that fire (pun surely intended) when an ad in a Chicago paper was accidentally released listing Toyota Park as the home of the 2006 Major League All-Star game this August in Bridgeview. Chicago's CBS affiliate quoted Fire President John Guppy as saying, "It was inappropriate ad placement in conjunction with a deal that's not completed". We hope to learn more about the status of the naming rights later this week.