Chicago Fire loses key cog with Schweinsteiger retirement
For three seasons Bastian Schweinsteiger was the Chicago Fire's player to watch -- a player of supreme skill, grace, accomplishment and intelligence, and almost always with a broad smile on his face.
Schweinsteiger, 35, announced his retirement Tuesday from professional soccer after 18 years. It came just two days after the team's final game of the season, a 5-2 win at Orlando City after which he told his coaches and teammates of his decision.
He arrived in Chicago to much fanfare, having led Germany to a World Cup in 2014 and after years of glory at Bayern Munich and Manchester United. In all he won 23 major trophies.
Schweinsteiger never won a trophy with the Fire, however.
In his three seasons the Fire made the playoffs only once, in 2017, and was immediately eliminated. Schweinsteiger played just 25 minutes in that playoff game due to injury.
"Basti has meant so much to our club," Fire owner Joe Mansueto said in a news release. "It was an absolute pleasure to watch him play. His soccer IQ is so elite, you can see that he's three steps ahead at every turn. He's a leader, a great teammate and a generational player who put Chicago Fire on the world map."
Ironically, Schweinsteiger's announcement came about an hour before, and overshadowed, the team's news conference to make official its move to Soldier Field from its home of 14 seasons, SeatGeek Stadium.
"It was a great pleasure and experience working with Basti during the last three years, and we're honored that we accompanied him in his last adventure as a fútbol player," said Fire coach Veljko Paunovic. "Although we celebrate with him the culmination of a career filled with success, greatness and charisma, we're very sad that he's leaving. We will always remember the powerful moment when he announced his retirement to the team in the locker room after the game against Orlando. It's a memory that will last a lifetime."
In 85 games with the Fire, Schweinsteiger had 8 goals and 15 assists. He arrived as a central midfielder and retired as a central defender.
He and his wife, retired pro tennis player Ana Ivanovic, have seemed to enjoy living in Chicago, frequently posting photos on social media.
Both of their children were born in Chicago.