Unfortunately, much like the MLS season, Thanksgiving is going to look quite different for a lot of us this year.
For me, it is usually spent in New York with 20 members of my family – family from all across the WORLD - packed into my Aunt and Uncle’s house. It is truly my favorite holiday of the year for that reason alone.
I hope that all of you will be able to create some sort of safe Thanksgiving celebration that can still elicit some of the same emotions we typically experience.
One thing we can all participate in, regardless of the circumstances, is expressing our gratitude for what we DO have.
So, while you get geared up for whatever Thanksgiving might look like for you this year, here is my list of what I’m most thankful for - Chicago Fire FC style
I’ll start this section by reiterating my “Final Thoughts” from the recap of the 2020 season: It hurt. I am not trying to overlook that or sweep it under the rug.
However, sometimes the game plan doesn’t always pan out. Like when you set up a “perfect” Thanksgiving dinner and the pie is left in the oven a bit too long, or in our family’s case a few years ago, my uncle sliced his finger cutting the turkey and half of it was covered in his blood. Shoutout Uncle Allan.
Fire head coach Raphael Wicky had a vision for what this team should look like from a stylistic standpoint, and it was WILDLY entertaining. Never this year was there a game in which the Fire didn’t try to put the ball down and pay homage to the beautiful game and express themselves. Sure, the finishing touches lacked on some nights, but his idea of what football should look like gave us all a spectacle to enjoy.
We are thankful of the vision of what football in Chicago should look like and am confident it will only get better with time.
ROBERT BERIĆ’S HEAD, KNEES, FOOT, SHOULDER…
As one of “The Open” segments featured on our broadcasts this year, all 12 of Robert Berić’s goals came in different shapes and sizes. Penalty, header, left foot, right foot, one off of his knee. It didn’t matter. He just found a way to do exactly what he was brought to Chicago to do.
If someone had told you back in March that the No. 9 striker you acquired from Europe was going to score 12 goals in a 23-game season and be in the thick of a Golden Boot Race, most everyone would sign up for that.
It is really difficult, in any walk of life, to find someone who just flat out delivers. Someone who does exactly what they are supposed to do.
Our Slovenian friend always seems to deliver.
He’s that one family member or friend who is responsible for their dish and you can always rely on them.
In my house, it’s typically my cousin Elizabeth who is responsible for the pies. You know what you’re going to get: excellence. She always delivers.
We are thankful for the man who always seemed to come through and deliver his dish, Robert Berić.
THE COMBINATION OF MEDRÁN AND GIMÉNEZ
It’s tough to find a Thanksgiving metaphor for their equal importance and influence.
You could say maybe turkey and stuffing, apple pie and ice cream, mashed potatoes and gravy…
But there is clearly the “main dish” and the delectable compliment that goes with it to create that party on your palette.
I consulted with a number of people on this dire topic and came to a simple conclusion; They are the holiday season on the whole.
Thanksgiving and whichever you celebrate following that, if anything. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or just the New Year.
The Spaniard and Argentinian are THAT good and need to be recognized as such. They each play their part and have emerged as one of the best midfield combos in MLS.
We are thankful for these ballers.
Think of Mauricio as the younger member of your typical Thanksgiving gathering who ends up playing a BIG role on the night in the kitchen. Maybe one of the elders of the family couldn’t attend or wasn’t feeling up to the challenge and a youngin’ was asked to step in and they do so in emphatic fashion.
Supporters’ choice Player of the Year, first Homegrown to start every match in club history, and third in the league in minutes.
I don’t think anyone, including the former Tar Heel, expected him to play THAT big of a role in his first season and he was up for the challenge.
A toast to the Bolingbrook native for whom we are very grateful for.
Shuttleworth, the 33-year-old goalkeeper, was released from Minnesota, out of a job, and signed as a back-up for the 2020 season.
He ended up being the starter for 17 games and made some truly incredible saves to keep the Fire in virtually every game he played.
You sometimes just have to have a plan B on Thanksgiving. As mentioned before, sometimes the vision for the perfect Thanksgiving deviates. You gotta roll with the punches.
Bobby Shuttleworth is about as good as a plan B as you can ask for in MLS, and he will make a serious case to be Plan A in 2021.
Break out the charcuterie board, it’s going to get a little cheesy.
I don’t think - I know - I speak for everyone at Chicago Fire Football Club when I say, we are grateful for you, the fans.
Our gratitude cannot be expressed adequately in words or any medium for that matter. You all have endured 2020 and all of the challenges that have come with it and despite all of that, have made time for CFFC and continue to support us.
Whether it be tuning in on WGN and ESPN+, rocking your CFFC gear, or just having that phone call with a friend arguing about whether it should be Frankowski or Aliseda who starts.
We couldn’t share Soldier Field together this year.
We couldn’t share a Medrán nutmeg or a thumping Berić header in person.
Some of you won’t be able to share turkey and stuffing with your loved ones.
Some of you won’t be able to share those gut-busting laughs at the dinner table.
The only thing we at CFFC can say this year is thank you.
Thank you for sticking with us. We will continue to stand for you, Chicago.