After the Fire’s 4-0 rout Saturday of FC Dallas, new owner Joe Mansueto addressed the players in their locker room at SeatGeek Stadium. Defender Jonathan Bornstein said the Fire gave Mansueto the game ball and dedicated the victory to him.
‘‘He was excited,’’ Bornstein said. ‘‘He talked a little about his ideas. More than anything he was proud of the team, and the feeling goes both ways on that end.’’
On the surface, the Fire’s first day under Mansueto’s ownership didn’t feel any different. Despite perfect weather, an announced crowd of only 12,874 turned out to see the Fire’s penultimate game at SeatGeek Stadium. There was no presentation of Mansueto or acknowledgment of former owner Andrew Hauptman.
Mansueto and Fire president and general manager Nelson Rodriguez were unavailable for comment.
The game was effectively over after the Fire scored four times in the first 45 minutes. Twitter comedians joked about how the victory was caused by the ‘‘Mansueto Effect’’ and that the Fire have a plus-4 differential since he took complete control of the team.
Realistically, Mansueto’s impact might be felt more down the line, when he has had some time to implement his plan for the Fire on and off the field.
‘‘Seeing how aggressive Joe is in his stance of making soccer fun in the city again and bringing it downtown [to Soldier Field], all [the] guys know the energy that downtown brings, and to be able to play there, it’s even more motivation and inspiration [to] win for this team,’’ said forward C.J. Sapong, who scored twice.
The success or failure of that move will come down to how well Mansueto runs the team. His purchase of the Fire was greeted with extreme enthusiasm by the team’s fan base, which was sick of Hauptman.
‘‘Section 8 Chicago believes Joe Mansueto will bring in a new era of success for the Chicago Fire and, as such, we embrace this announcement as something wholly positive for the club, its supporters and the Chicago soccer community,’’ Section 8 Chicago said on its website.
The Fire’s players and coaches saw Hauptman differently, but they also voiced support for the new ownership. Coach Veljko Paunovic said he was ‘‘very thankful’’ to Hauptman for his support and their relationship, but he was clearly excited about Mansueto.
‘‘We believe that being the full owner of the club is a great opportunity to move forward,’’ Paunovic said. ‘‘I believe also that there is a very good spirit, and we just want to keep working together. Very positive. I think he is a very experienced man, a man of success, and that’s going to help the club, for sure.’’
Bornstein, who joined the Fire on July 22, said the team was ‘‘extremely happy’’ with what Hauptman did. But he said the Fire are also extremely happy Mansueto is taking over.
‘‘We’re all excited; the players are very excited,’’ Bornstein said. ‘‘He’s talking about making good changes to the club. Obviously going into the city is a big thing for us, and we’re all excited for that. . . . I’m really happy that he takes the team and that we’ll be moving forward with him.’’