It’s an exciting year to be a Chicago soccer fan! Not only is Chicago Fire celebrating a milestone birthday — the big 2-0! — but they’re playing host to the 2017 Target MLS All-Star Game vs Real Madrid at Soldier Field, August 2. The league’s 22nd annual mid-summer match will provide soccer super fans a chance to celebrate the sport and see a litany of top players with mad skills from around the world. Read on for All Star Game scoop and to hear other ways our home team is setting the city on fire this summer.

The need-to-know game day details.
As of press time, plenty of tickets were still available for the All Star game day, which features the MLS All-Star team taking on two-time reigning Champions League winners Real Madrid at Soldier Field on Wednesday, August 2, at 8 p.m. (stadium opens at 6 p.m.). Root, root, root for the home team . . .  Chicago Fire players make the All Star cut! Of the 22 man All Star game-day squad, 4 Chicago Fire players were named to the team. Be sure to cheer extra loud for Bastian Schweinsteiger, Nemanja Nikolić, Johan Kappelhof and Dax McCarty.

Pregame for days.
Leading up to the August 2 game day, there are plenty of opportunities to engage in pre-game festivities with the family.  Beach soccer fields will be open to the public on North Avenue Beach on Sunday, July 30 from 1 p.m.-9 p.m. The all-day, DJ-hosted party will feature appearances from MLS All-Stars and celebrities, classic beach games, speciality swag, prizes and refreshments.

Monday, July 31 from noon-4 p.m. is Community Day! MLS WORKS, Major League Soccer’s community outreach initiative, and Chicago Fire will unveil a new mini-pitch that will support local youth programming, including Fire’s P.L.A.Y.S. program, at Gage Park (411 W. 55th St.). Parents can register their kids for age-based soccer clinics and skill stations and a free play zone with soccer skills challenges, inflatables, games, music and food will be open to the public.

Cheer on players from the US and Canada for the Special Olympics Unified Sports All-Star Soccer Match on Tuesday, August 1 at 4:30 p.m., presented by MLS WORKS and ESPN. All 22 MLS Clubs will be represented as athletes come head-to-head in an East v. West, 11 v. 11 match, consisting of two, 25-minute halves at Toyota Park.  The Unified Exchange program unites people with and without intellectual disabilities who travel from their home city to other MLS markets to compete in exhibition matches with their Special Olympic counterparts. It provides Special Olympic athletes with top-level training and competitive and life experiences they wouldn’t otherwise engage in and promotes an environment of social inclusion.

Give back again on Wednesday, August 2 (8:30 a.m.-1 p.m.) with MLS WORKS’ All-Star Day of Service. Roll up your sleeves with MLS and Wells Fargo team members to lend a helping hand to Chicago and Bridgeview. The day will begin with a  brief prep rally at a central location before buses transport volunteers to various community organizations. To learn more or to sign up to volunteer, email mlsworks@mlsoccer.com.

And one for the adults . . . 
We can’t let kids have all the fun! Dial up the sitter and head to Northerly Island, Monday, July 31 at 8 p.m. for a free X Ambassadors concert. Be sure to register ahead to attend the show. Registration does not guarantee admittance, so you’ll want to get there early.

Can’t make the All Star game? The team shows their love for fans with regular season game day activities.
Catching a game is fun enough, but Fire is upping the ante with themed nights during their regular season games. The next opportunity is August 5 for $2 hot dog night. The exciting 20th Season Celebration takes place on August 19 with a playing card giveaway and commemorative jersey auction. The force of the Fire will be with you August 26 for Star Wars Night, Hispanic Heritage Day takes place September 16, snag a free key chain on September 30 and give yourself a pat on the back October 15 during Fan Appreciation Day. Think that’s all there is? Nah. Check their website for the lowdown on more activities.

Get pumped before regular season games at Toyota Park
Begin your Fire experience with Fire Fest!  Just inside Gate B in the northwest corner of Toyota Park you’ll find pre-game activities that start 2 hours prior to kickoff. Fans can enjoy music, games, giveaways and more before heading into the venue.  Featured activities include an inflatable field perfect for a quick 3v3 game, Chicago Fire Speedshot to test your leg power and how fast you can shoot, 4+1 Stadia to prove you’re the best in this 5-a-side street soccer game, and Soccer Pool, a combo between snooker and soccer.

Sign up for a camp that’s a real kick in the grass.
We’re nearing the end of summer camp season, but it’s not too late to schedule a session with Chicago Fire. Now thru the end of August, they are hosting full and half-day summer camps at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch and at more locations in the Chicagoland area than we can list. So, no doubt, there’s a camp in your neck of the woods. These camps offer mini (and not-so-mini) soccer fans, ages 2-16, the opportunity to learn from professional and experienced staff, regardless of their skills. Every camper receives a dri-fit jersey, soccer ball, player evaluation and a ticket to their Graduation Day event during a Chicago Fire gameday at Toyota Park.

Join the Club’s club for kids . . . Junior Supporters Club.
Be a Club insider by signing up the littles for the Junior Supporters Club. This free program offers fun and engaging ways to interact with the team, including special ticket offers, a monthly e-newsletter, access to exclusive contests and content, an invite to exclusive player autograph sessions and a chance to win Junior Supporter of the Month Matchday Experience.

Not a soccer player (or fan)? Not a problem . . . there’s still a program for you!
You don’t have to be a soccer athlete (or even a highly skilled athlete) to benefit from Chicago Fire’s youth programs. Regardless of preferred sport, kids can sign up for Athlete 2.0, a speed, agility, quickness (SAQ) program. These professional trainer-led classes held at Firehouse Fitness, a state-of-the-art workout facility located at The PrivateBank Fire Pitch, are designed to assist youth athletes in reaching their highest potential.

Have you been to a game this season? We’d love to hear about your experience in the Comments below!

— Maria Chambers

photos courtesy of Chicago Fire and Major League Soccer