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Tomorrow marks the beginning of holiday season for many people across the United States. Families will gather round the TV to watch some NFL action and then will sit down together and enjoy a large meal with their loved ones. Before they dive into their various dishes, many families will go around the table and say what they are most thankful for. It is in this spirit that I am going to give you a few of the many things I'm thankful for - Chicago Fire 2011 edition.

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I am thankful for... The Republic of Ghana - This wonderful country of about 24 million people is the birthplace of both members of the Fire's fleet footed attack up front. Dominic Oduro (Accra) and Patrick Nyarko (Kumasi) make up the most potent of the attacking formations fielded by the Fire in 2011, and they are probably two of the fastest forwards in MLS. Fun fact: When moving the ball up the field Nyarko and Oduro sometimes speak to each other in their native tongue to avoid giving their strategy away to opposing defenders. 

I am thankful for... Club Social y Deportivo Atlas de Guadalajara (Atlas) - This club from Mexico's Primera Division purchased forward Gaston Puerari from the Fire earlier in the 2011 campaign, making room for one of the Ghanaian's to move forward. This move also turned Puerari into a profit for the club since the Fire got him for free. 

I am thankful for... Nation Football Federation of Guatemala - If not for their appearance in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, and their call-up of Fire midfielder, Marco Pappa, this team may have never found it's identity. With Pappa on international duty for several weeks, the club was forced to find other ways to score goals, proving to themselves that Pappa did not have to be, "the man". Pappa is a tremendous player with boatloads of talent, but at the beginning of 2011 he looked like he was trying to do everything himself, seeing the team perform halfway decently in his absence showed him and the rest of the Fire that they had the beginnings of a true team at Toyota Park.

I am thankful for... Tigres de la Universidad de Nuevo León (Tigres) - Another Primera Division side who helped the Fire out this season. Thank you for sending forward Orr Barouch to the Fire on loan. Barouch proved to be a spark plug at times, and the young Israeli was instrumental off the bench on a number of occasions this season. Now, please let us keep him.

I am thankful for... Hans Backe - If it weren't for Hans Backe deciding to send an atrociously bad side to Chicago in the US Open Cup quarter final, who knows if we would've been treated to the wonderful ride to the USOC final? Thank you Hans Backe for not showing up, both literally and figuratively. 

I am thankful for... Frank Klopas - Frankie started the 2011 campaign as the Fire Technical Director. After a poor start to the season he sacked head man, Carlos de los Cobos (Thank you) and took over the on-field duties for the remainder of the season. Not only did he help guide the Fire to an appearance in the USOC final (Thank you, again), but he also took a listless Fire side and whipped them into shape, keeping them in the playoff hunt until the last week of the season. (One more thank you) In addition to all that, he made some crucial personnel decisions that included the mid-season acquisitions of Dan Gargan, Pavel Pardo, and Sebastian Grazzini - integral pieces to this club. (A final thank you)

I am thankful for... Former Chicago Fire midfielder, Jesse Marsch - With only 11 spots available for protection in the expansion draft, the club left a few key players out there for the taking. Thank you to new Impact de Montreal boss, Jesse Marsch, for leaving the Fire untouched, especially for passing on my guy, Dan Gargan.

I am thankful for... Former Fire D/M, Jared Montz - When we were first trying to get our blog started, Jared provided us with a great interview to post to our site. Make sure you check that interview out if you haven't seen it. And check out his sites, here and here

I am thankful for... Baggio Husidic - For always being a great sport when I holler at him from the stands, and for being a fun tweeter.

I am thankful for... Brendan Hannan - For helping the crew at Hook 'N Ladders break into the media side of covering the club, complete with press box, pitch, and locker room access. And for being so friendly to us, and for always providing great insight via Twitter.

I am thankful for... Jeff Krause - Jeff provided me with some great tips prior to my first trip to the press box at Toyota Park, and putting me at ease in a very intimidating setting during my first night in the press box by being incredibly helpful. Jeff also writes some great stuff about the Fire, check it out

I am thankful for... Neil Desmond - Neil has been a friend since high school, and is currently my ticket broker in the Fire ticket office. Thanks for helping me out in 2011, my first season as a STH, and always taking care of me as far as exchanges and extra ticket purchases go. 

I am thankful for... Jeff Harbert - For his wonderful work over at Chicago Fire Blog and his dedication to the Chicago Fire Fanzine. And of course, for allowing us to contribute to it.

And finally, I am thankful for... Ryan Byrne, Chane Keller, and Raul Barraza - Ryan has been a close friend since high school, and this blog would've never been started if it weren't for his help and dedication. His photographic skills are incredible and help us bring an even better level of coverage to our site, and he always has great contributions in writing. Chane and Raul came on board later, but everything they've done so far has been tremendous and I'm thankful for them joining us, and continuing to contribute great pieces.