Formed in 1997, Chicago Fire Soccer Club took part in their first Major League Soccer season in 1998. The club is named after the 1871 Great Chicago Fire and was officially founded on the anniversary of the fire. Over the years, Chigaco Fire have developed rivalries with FC Dallas, Los Angeles Galaxy, D.C. United and the New England Revolution.
The club has one of America's most extensive and advanced youth academies, which includes using the former Rockford Raptors, now renamed Chicago Fire NPSL, as a development program and maintaining three other teams, which each serve players of different age groups and ability levels. The Chicago Fire Juniors club nurtures players from Under-8 level upwards and has satellite clubs in Michigan, Louisiana, Mississippi and Florida.
During their first competitive MLS season, the Chicago Fire became an instant success story. They defeated D.C. United 2-0 in the final of the MLS Cup and also overcame the Columbus Crew in the final of the U.S. Open Cup, astonishingly winning the double. Subsequently, the club reached the MLS Cup final in 2000 and 2003, but failed to win on either occasion. The Fire have enjoyed three more U.S. Open Cup wins, in 2000, 2003 and 2006 and won their regular season Conference in 2000, 2001 and 2003. The 2009 season saw Chicago finish as runners up in the North American SuperLiga.
In 2003, the club established the 'Ring of Fire', a hall of fame which honours those who have made a significant contribution to the club's success. C.J. Brown, Piotr Nowak, Chris Armas and Luboš Kubík are some of the players inducted so far. Other notable former Chicago Fire players include Brian McBride, DaMarcus Beasley and Mexican legend Cuauhtémoc Blanco.
Since 2006 the team has played its home matches at Toyota Park in in Bridgeview, Illinois. The stadium has a capacity of 20,000 and is shared with the Chicago Machine lacrosse team.