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Chicago Fire Sister Cities International Cup Starts Tonight

By Ben Schuman Stoler in Arts & Entertainment on May 19, 2010 7:00PM

SisterCites.jpg The Chicago Fire's Sister Cities International Cup starts tonight, and here's the deal: Tonight, the Fire play Paris Saint-Germain at Toyota Park at 7 PM, and Legia Warsaw play Red Star Belgrade right after. On Saturday, the two losers play at 6 PM at Toyota Park, and the winners play for the Cup right after. Bam.

Now don't you snark at a meaningless and potentially form destroying tournament in the middle of a season, this thing is legit. It's got a trophy, for one thing, and it even got a weighty Daley Proclo-freakin-mation! Also, did you know that there's an entire website devoted to Sister Citying the crap out of everyone? The list of sister cities confirms what you might have expected: we're part of one messed up foster family trailer park home of sister cities.

Oh, we kid, we kid.

Actually, these sort of friendly soccer tournaments can be awesome. Keyword: can. Sometimes they're total duds. If coaches only bring their reserve squads, for example, or if your star player gets injured, or if the teams and/or fans come to hate each other and the tourney devolves into an international riot - these things can wreck a friendly or two.

We do anticipate Fire coach Carlos de los Cobos will use the tournament to test some untried squad members, and it would be surprising if Legia, Red Star, and PSG didn't do the same. Brian McBride, Patrick Nyarko, C.J. Brown and others might play a bit, but what's the point of risking the MLS season for what is ultimately a worthless tournament?

But putting aside the fatalism, bringing international clubs to town and showing different brands of soccer is fun. And these are, really, storied clubs. Each are prominent teams in their country's capital city. Red Star is sort of like the New York Yankees of Serbia (if such a thing exists), only they're probably most famous for their Serbian nationalism and these 1991 riots. Legia, meanwhile, has its own history, started as it was by Polish soldiers. They both also represent particular political leanings - so be aware what buying a Red Star scarf or a Legia kit can mean.

Lastly, PSG should be bringing their captain Claude Makelele, of Les Bleus, Real Madrid and Chelsea fame, and it's not like we get to see Champions League and World Cup winners at Toyota Park every weekend. So go! Enjoy the beautiful game!