For all of the Fire’s off-the-field efforts to bolster the business side of the franchise, they have to be better on the field for that work to really have an effect.
Coach Raphael Wicky knows that.
‘‘We are aware, as coaches and as a team, that the first team is always the locomotive of the train,’’ Wicky said Wednesday. ‘‘We know that we are a very important piece of this club.’’
Though both the business and soccer sides have plenty of work to do, the Fire’s 3-0 victory Saturday against Atlanta United won’t hurt.
Facing a short-handed opponent, the Fire (2-7-2, eight points) got two first-half goals from Ignacio Aliseda on their way to snapping a four-game winless streak. Aliseda also picked up an assist on Przemyslaw Frankowski’s goal in the second half, helping the Fire move out of last place in Major League Soccer.
It was the Fire’s first home game of the season with no capacity restrictions, which allows for around 28,500 fans in the Soldier Field seating configuration the team uses.
Before the game, which drew an announced crowd of 14,898, the Fire unveiled Burnham Downs, a pregame area outside the southeast corner of the stadium that features interactive games, food and drink options and, on Saturday, a Q&A with announcers Arlo White, Tony Meola and Tyler Terens.
‘‘The atmosphere is beautiful,’’ Aliseda said through a translator. ‘‘I love to play in this stadium. I love to play in front of people.’’
Initiatives such as the fan tailgate are worthwhile endeavors as the Fire try to reintroduce themselves to the Chicago sports landscape. But parties, well-received new logos and slick marketing only can go so far when the primary product is a team languishing in the lower reaches of MLS.
A few more games such as the one Saturday would help.
‘‘The club has done a great job in marketing and bringing the club back to the city in Soldier Field and doing a lot in social media, so they are doing a great job,’’ Wicky said. ‘‘But at the end of the day, it’s us on the field who have to deliver, who have to make people want to come back. There’s only one way of doing that, and that’s winning games and playing good football.’’
Defender Boris Sekulic had a similar perspective. After the game June 26 against the Union, Sekulic was thankful for the fans who showed up after driving rains swamped the area. But there’s one way to get more people into the building, regardless of the weather.
‘‘I’m from Europe,’’ Sekulic said. ‘‘In Europe, if you lose eight from 10 games, it’s a little bit different. We feel [the fans’] support even when our results are bad [at] this moment. We cannot expect more people in the stadium until we start winning.’’
NOTE: Captain Francisco Calvo is away on international duty with Costa Rica and didn’t play. Jonathan Bornstein made his first start since May 8 and served as captain in Calvo’s place.