The Chicago Fire website featured a big story by the Chicago Tribune's Jack McCarty on the recent open try-outs. In the article, McCarty focuses on the two players I thought had the most appeal, Andrew Lichaj and Steve Purdy. Andrew Lichaj is the brother of Aston Villa and USMNT RB Eric Lichaj. Steve Purdy is a goaltender who attended the University of Illinois-Chicago and was rumored to be a target of the Fire's in last year's draft. In the end, Chicago selected Paraskevas 'Pari' Pantazopoulos as the winner.
“Playing professional soccer has always been a dream of mine,” said Panthazopoulos. “I have been a supporter of the Fire since I moved to the United States in 1998. I am very thankful to the club for this opportunity.”
Both Pari and the Chicago Fire started playing United States soccer in 1998. Hey, a little coincidence like that never hurt and I'm glad to hear he is a fan. Pantazopoulos has not stayed here the entire time though joining Asyl Lisis in Cyprus in 2007 before moving onto Third Division Greek side Zakynthos from 2008-2010. Pari is 22 years old and plays in the midfield. This is probably nothing to get too excited about (you did catch the Third Division Greek side, right?) but it is interesting that the Fire would choose him over Andrew Lichaj. Andrew Lichaj would have generated some headlines (John Rooney anyone?) and provided the opportunity for the Fire to build a better relationship with the Lichaj family. Pari has to be fairly decent for the team to pass that over. Pantazopoulos now gets to join the team for a week of training when the pre-season camp starts Monday, January 31. We wish him luck and we will keep you posted on how he performs.