56 points, MLS Cup champions. 48 points, playoff berth. 57 points, second over all and MLS Cup finalists. 53 points, second over all and semi-finalists. 37 points, playoff berth. 53 points, Supporter’s Shield champions, MLS Cup finalists.
The first six seasons of the Chicago Fire. It’s enough to make a Toronto FC fan weep. Yes, it was during the so-called MLS 1.0 era, but even with that caveat it’s an impressive run – only one off-season and two major championships. If it weren’t for goal differential, the Fire would have added two more Supporter’s Shields as well.
From its launch, Chicago was one of the league’s brightest stars and it remains a solid club that is always in the mix. However, the years highlighted were the glory years. And, the man that was ultimately behind that early success was Peter Wilt.
Wilt was fired by the Fire in 2005. The fans did not react well to the move. Tifos were made. The supporter’s refused to take their seats for the first eight minutes of a game. They demanded answers that they never received.
See, Wilt was unique in management. Although he was successful on the business side of things – Wilt was behind the move to a soccer specific stadium – he was primarily known as a “soccer guy” – with an emphasis on the word “soccer” (as opposed to football). He was also the first MLS executive to reach out and build significant relationships with the rowdy, loud and occasionally over-served fans that sit behind the goals.
An argument can be made that without Wilt, and the successful relationship he built with Section 8 in Chicago, many of the current supporter’s groups in other cities would have never been given the chance to grow and succeed. He was the first to see the groups as a benefit, rather than a pain in the ass.
For his effort he’s effectively been shut out from any other MLS management jobs. There has likely never been a better example of the country club nature of MLS ownership than Wilt’s continued unemployment. Name another example of a sports executive or coach that has had that type of success, but who has failed to find work. Ted Nolan in hockey, maybe? It makes little sense.
CSN confirmed that Wilt reached out to Toronto FC both originally in 2006 and following Mo Johnston’s firing (and CSN advocated for him to be hired at the time). We’ve been told that he reached out following Aron Winter’s dismissal too.
It’s time TFC reached back. It’s been seven years since Wilt worked in MLS. He’s clearly been blackballed for some reason.
Hire him Toronto. Yesterday.