The Away End | Chicago Fire with Max Thoma

Away End CHI Wide

New York City Football Club take on the Chicago Fire on Saturday evening.

For this edition of 'The Away End' presented by Berkeley College & Rennert International, we spoke to Max Thoma, English Radio Play-by-Play Broadcaster for the Chicago Fire.

Hi Max, thank you for speaking with us. How long have you been covering the Chicago Fire?

This is my first season covering the fire, my partner Dasan Robinson and I started as the first-ever English radio broadcasters for Chicago Fire FC in late April. 

What has been your highlight in that time?

I’d say my favorite two highlights over that time would be the first goal I ever called for the club, a Kei Kamara header vs New York Red Bulls in the first game we did, and the 4-1 thrashing of Inter Miami in front of a sellout crowd of over 62,000 that shattered the club’s attendance record.

How would you evaluate Chicago's 2023 season?

2023 truly has been a roller coaster. In July the Fire were blazing, they’d just won two games on a three-game road trip and returned home to snatch three wins in 8 days (while getting that final win in stoppage time). But following Leagues Cup the team appeared sluggish and struggled to find goals. Recently they found quality form again with massive wins at NYRB and at home vs Inter Miami, but the 2-0 Charlotte loss really shocked and stunned us all. This is a team that possesses playoff quality but will need things to fall their way this week.

What are your hopes for the team next season?

I think the hope for most Fire fans is to see some big acquisitions going into 2024. The Fire made one addition in the last transfer window and they’ll be hoping for more and bigger splashes in the months to come. Chicago has only made the postseason once in the past decade and haven’t been playoff-bound since 2017, so the most logical hope is to put a team together that ends that drought. 

What do you think will be the deciding factor in the game on Saturday?

I believe the deciding factor will be the play of Brian Gutiérez and Xherdan Shaqiri. When they’re in sync, playing off each other and controlling the midfield, Chicago looks so much more invigorated and dangerous. Shaqiri was sensational vs Inter Miami and if he can repeat that performance alongside the 20-year-old midfielder, Chicago should be able to create chances. Chris Brady is the team’s MVP this year and will also need to show out in net.

For any fans that might be in Chicago for a game in the near future, are there any pregame spots you suggest they check out?

Can’t go wrong with a Chicago Architecture Boat Tour, a beautiful and efficient way to take in a ton of the city. Also if you’re heading to Soldier Field right close by is Grant Park, the Field Museum, and the Shedd Aquarium which are all fascinating places to explore.