Schaumburg native Mueller believes Fire can exceed expectations
Chicago Fire forward Chris Mueller has set a goal of bringing back a lost hobby.
No, not soccer. Reading.
The Schaumburg native wrote a book which debuted in June 2021 titled, "Bet on Yourself: How to Build Unshakable Confidence, Tune Out the Noise, and Rise to the Occasion." He plans to donate any share of profits to literacy programs.
"I just learned so much from reading throughout the years," Mueller said. "I had a good mentor and a good friend of mine back at school when I was in Wisconsin give me a book that really just changed my perspective, I guess, and opened my mind to the amount of resources that were out there to help me learn about how to become a better athlete."
So Mueller became an avid reader and decided to make his own creation. He started writing during his rookie season in the MLS with Orlando and spent about four years on the project.
"By donating the proceeds to literacy, that just shows the power I think reading can have on people's lives," he said. "So I would like to provide that back to the community any way I can.
"Ultimately my goal was always to give back. Even if it helps one kid, I always said that would make it worth it."
While trying to give back as an author, Mueller found himself back home with the Fire last year. He was originally the No. 6 pick of the MLS Draft by Orlando City in 2018. After four seasons in Florida, he gave European soccer a try, signing with the Scottish Club Hibernian. That lasted just a few months, though, and Mueller returned to the MLS with the Fire, scoring 4 goals last season.
"I would say I got good things out of the experience," he said of playing in Scotland. "Obviously going to live in another country is an experience in itself and getting to experience European football is completely different from football here in the States.
"I loved Edinburgh, the place that I lived. I wish it could have went on a lot longer and I wish it would have went a little better on the pitch. There was a lot of instability to the club. ... I made the move to come back because I felt that suited my career the best."
Mueller has made two appearances with the U.S. National team, scoring a pair of goals in a friendly against El Salvador in 2020. He's hoping a good showing with the Fire will lead to more chances to represent the country.
Mueller's soccer career began with the Hoffman Rockets in AYSO. He joined the Chicago Sockers club team at age 9 and stuck with it until committing to Wisconsin for college. Mueller met his wife Alyssa while in high school. She went to South Elgin, while he was at Schaumburg.
"It's honestly been really great (playing in Chicago)," he said. "I think it's not something I thought I was going to like as much as I do now, if you would have asked me when I was younger. But being close to my family, my wife's really happy at home. She has her friends around and it's been a really good experience being back so far."
The Fire open the regular season Saturday at Soldier Field against New York City FC. After four straight losing seasons, expectations aren't particularly high for the Fire, but Mueller thinks continuity could be an asset.
"I think our expectations are to make the playoffs at the very least," he said. "We have a lot of returning guys which is always good for team chemistry. I have no doubt the team will accomplish goals this year."
Well, if anyone can get a good read on a situation, it's probably Mueller.