Jersey numbers can be a big deal in soccer. Who is the team's No. 10? Who is the No. 9?
Nemanja Nikolic, a forward who joined the Chicago Fire this offseason as a Designated Player, didn't have the choice of either number that is famously associated with marquee attacking players because both were taken by returning players on the Fire. Instead, he landed on a number more famous in Chicago sports than in soccer.
Nikolic will be wearing 23.
The Fire announced the jersey numbers for the 2017 season with Nikolic's 23 a part of the list. Every returning player kept the same number as last season.
It goes without saying that wearing the No. 23 in Chicago comes with an extra bit of notoriety. Ever since Michael Jordan donned the No. 23 for the Chicago Bulls, it has been a common sight to find the best player on a Chicagoland high school basketball team wearing No. 23. That doesn't translate to the world of soccer, but in Chicago fans will notice.
A spokesman for the club said the number was more coincidence than intentional MJ reference, but if Nikolic has a good season don't be surprised to see signs at Toyota Park referencing Nikolic's jersey number.
In the preseason some of the players have been wearing different jersey numbers from what they will in the regular season. Nikolic has been wearing No. 9 in preseason matches.
Here is a list of the other newcomers and the numbers they will be wearing:
Jorge Bava: 1
Dax McCarty: 6
Djordje Mihailovic: 14
Daniel Johnson: 20
Stefan Cleveland: 30
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