The Chicago Fire Soccer Club is an American professional soccer club that participates in Major League Soccer. Based in the Chicago suburb of Bridgeview, Illinois, the team was founded October 8, 1997, on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In 1998, their inaugural league season, the Fire won the MLS Cup as well as the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup (the "double"). They have also won the 2000, 2003, and 2006 Open Cups. A key feature of the Fire is its complete developmental system consisting of the Chicago Fire Premier (a Premier Development League team and a Super-20 League team), the Chicago Fire Development Academy, Chicago Fire Juniors youth teams and a community based Camps and Training department. The club also administers a charitable community organization, the Chicago Fire Foundation. The official club colors are red and white. Over its history, the Fire has also employed navy blue, sky blue, and black as alternate or accent colors.
The Fire Juniors are the youth club affiliate of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club, with local branches in North Chicago, South Chicago & North West Indiana; regional branches in Mississippi and national branches in Louisiana and Florida. First established in 2004, the original Fire Juniors were formed by the combination of two existing youth clubs in Wheaton, to serve as the initial Chicago youth soccer flagship as a program of the Wheaton Park District. They then absorbed the Naperville Lightning, a successful, existing club in Naperville. The Fire Juniors Technical Director is Academy Director Larry Sunderland and Affiliate Manager is Brian Roberts.
The Fire Juniors is the first of its kind program in Major League Soccer (MLS) and creates a true player development "pyramid" from the beginning recreational player to the professional level. This "pyramid" creates a progressive developmental structure providing players the opportunity to move from introductory play, competitive play and elite youth play into professional academy formats (Fire Academy U16, U18) and professional development programs (Super 20, PDL) - finally, onto the Fire MLS team. The Fire has two current players who have come through this ‘Home Grown’ player pathway: Victor Pineda (Bolingbrook, IL) and Kellen Gulley (Jackson, MS).
The Fire Juniors is a first class, professionally run organization that produces teams and develops players for consistent high-level competition. The Fire Juniors maintains the infrastructure for player and team development that produces the highest quality player and team results. As part of the Chicago Fire Player Development Program, Fire Juniors players have access to unparalleled opportunities for soccer development -- opportunities that no other club can provide. Youth to professional, top quality leadership and coaching, always ahead of the curve and leading the way in the evolution of youth soccer.
The Fire Juniors believe in the Pyramid of Player Development. From the base of the pyramid, where one finds the greatest number of participants from the recreational and beginning player, to the top of the pyramid, where we find our first division professional player - our program has the capacity to meet every player's goals -- male or female. Our professional coaching staff is equipped to meet every player's developmental needs - from bottom to top. We follow a curriculum that is both age and ability-based and allows the flexibility to accommodate those who are excelling as well as those who need additional help. Because of our soccer club's unique distinction as the first program to follow a professional soccer club model - one club, from youth recreational teams to our elite teams and Academy teams - finally to the ultimate, Major League Soccer's Chicago Fire.
The MISSION STATEMENT of the Fire Juniors is-
“To Lead the Evolution of Youth Soccer In the United States”.
The VISION of the Fire Juniors is
“To foster a culture of excellence both on and off the field of play. To create an environment that develops players from grassroots through to college, MLS and National Teams”.
In 2010, the Chicago Fire saw a number of junior clubs join the CFJ family. CFJ South, CFJ North and CFJ NW Indiana signed up from the in Chicagoland area, whilst CFJ Florida joined Louisiana and Mississippi in promoting the Fire further afield. In 2012, Kentucky and Michigan were added.