The Chicago Fire have announced today that they have signed Northwestern midfielder Chris Ritter to a Homegrown contract. Ritter is their second Homegrown player signing of this off season and fourth in team history.
Ritter has been a critical part of the Northwestern midfield for four of the past five seasons, accumulating 7,333 minutes of playing time in 84 appearances and providing 15 goals and 14 assists.
Per the press release, here is what Frank Yallop had to say about Ritter:
"Embodying what Chicago loves about its athletes, Chris is a tough, hard-working and skillful player," said Chicago Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop. "Kudos to our player development system for producing players like Chris that can smoothly transition to the First Team."
Ritter had an opportunity to join the Fire in 2013 but passed on the opportunity to return to Northwestern and complete his degree. The Fire organization felt strongly enough about Ritter that the deal was still on the table for him a year later.
A few weeks back, Hot Time did a profile on Ritter. In the profile we included the below video from SportsNight on the Northwestern News Network. We felt that it was worth including the video again in case anyone missed it.
MLSsoccer.com also put together a highlight reel of Ritter as well.
There is a lot to be excited about with Ritter. He might not be the flashiest player, but, under the right tutelage, he could be the future leader in the Fire midfield. Since the end of the season, we took a look at the importance of having an accurate string puller in the central midfield. According to the scouting report on MLSsoccer.com, Ritter could develop into that role.
What Scouts Say: "I'm a big fan of his … Good two-way midfielder who consistently impacts games from deep positions … His biggest asset on the defensive side is he's a great ball-reader … Knows when to step in front, when to get in a passing lane, how to win the second ball, AND he'll have an 85% pass rate at the end of the game ... He keeps things simple, but he always seems to have time on the ball … He has good passing range, he's good on set pieces … He can play deep in midfield and make it in the league … Obviously playing in the middle at the next level is tough, so I could see him move to right back. I haven't assessed his pace, but he won every individual battle he went into … He's good in the air in addition to having good feet … Pace might be a concern at the next level, and he'll need to become a little more disciplined in his role, because Northwestern gave him a little more freedom to get forward."
Ritter will most likely not be able to dive right in to playing and will probably need a season or two behind Jeff Larentowicz to acclimate to the league, but once he is ready, he could be in the starting line up for a long, long time.