Just how well do Tom Soehn and Denis Hamlett know Chicago, Illinois?
Heading into Sunday afternoon’s match between Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Chicago Fire, there are numerous player and coach connections between the two clubs.
But while many news outlets and media sources will likely be paying close attention to previous records and statistics between the two sides, whitecapsfc.com decided to speak to Whitecaps FC head coach Tom Soehn and his assistant Denis Hamlett about their knowledge of Chicago, Illinois. Born and raised in Chicago, Soehn both played and coached the Fire during his career and helped them capture the 1998 MLS Cup and win two Lamar Hunt US Open Cup titles in 1998 and 2000 before serving as the club's assistant coach for two seasons. Hamlett, meanwhile, spent 12 years on the coaching staff with the Fire, which included two seasons as Chicago's head coach in 2008 and 2009.
With a long history of time spent in Chicago combined, a variety of questions were posed to determine both gentlemen’s memory of Illinois' greatest city. With both men responding with some interesting answers, whitecapsfc.com kept score to determine the winner.
Question one started off simple with an inquiry about the city’s current population. According to a 2010 census taken by the United States Census Bureau, Chicago was determined to have just less than 2.7 million residents. Hamlett answered a guess with a population base of three million people, a respectable claim. However, Soehn’s attempt put Chicago with a population of five million residents, an answer that doubled the amount of residents living in the city.
However, Soehn quickly regained his composure during the second round when asked a question about the city’s most famous musical. Dealt a trick question regarding the title of the Broadway theatrical ‘Chicago’, Soehn quickly nailed the answer without missing the hint. Hamlett, meanwhile, clearly found no satisfaction in theatrical productions, as after a few seconds passed, he responded, "You’ve definitely got me there, I have no idea," which equalled the score at 1-1.
Question three asked the two coaches a personal question about their favourite Chicago sports team. Unfortunately, Soehn answered, “I think I went through different teams throughout different times. For a while, it was the Blackhawks before cheering for the Cubs." With that answer, Soehn lost 0.5 points with a clear blunder in choosing to cheer for the Blackhawks while living in Vancouver, and continued to lose points for cheering for the Cubs - a team that has not won a World Series title since 1908. Hamlett also mistakenly blundered by stating, "Outside soccer, it’s definitely the Cubs." After three rounds, the score remained tied at 0.5-0.5.
After both coaches answered four different questions about Chicago Fire history correctly, two additional bonus rounds were added to determine a winner. Posed with the question "What is the average temperature in Chicago during the months of January and July?", both coaches answered in Fahrenheit. Hamlett estimated a January temperature of 26 degrees and a July average of 84 degrees. Soehn replied with a January average of 26 degrees with a July temperature of 79 degrees. Upon weather research, Chicago’s average temperature in January and July is 23.5 degrees and 84.7 degrees, respectively. After calculation, Hamlett’s understanding of the Chicago climate defeated Soehn, as he took a 1.5 to 0.5 lead into the final question.
With the final question looming, Soehn needed the question to assure a draw. The final question asked the coaches to list as many nicknames regarding Chicago as possible. Soehn thought carefully and replied, “Windy City, Chi-Town, and I think that’s all I know." However, with two strong answers from the head coach, Hamlett was able to dig deep and clinch the victory, as he responded, “Windy City, Chi-Town”, and after a two-second pause noted, “Second City” to defeat Soehn 2.5 to 0.5.
But while the contest may or may not have been a complete success, both coaches' time with Chicago Fire was one they will never forget. "I think it was a great experience, especially in being able to win the double (1998 MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt US Open Cup titles) in front of all my family and friends. I grew up there, so it was really special to be able to play and win championships and also coach there," said Soehn. Hamlett agreed, "I think the things that stick out for me was the winning culture. We always wanted to win trophies, whether it was an MLS Cup, Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, SuperLiga, or CONCACAF Champions' Cup."