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Kellen Gulley officially signs with the Chicago Fire

As reported originally on Soccer by Ives a couple of weeks ago, the Chicago Fire have signed 17 year-old striker Kellen Gulley as a Home Grown Player. Gulley comes from the Chicago Fire Juniors - Mississippi and becomes the first player from the three Juniors programs based outside of Chicagoland to sign with the club's first team. Gulley will not be added to the Fire's first team roster until 2012. However, Gulley will arrive in Chicago on Sunday and begin training with the first team on Monday. More on this signing after the break.

Gulley, a Clinton, Miss. product, earned eight caps with the U17 U.S. Men's National Team, tallying four goals during international competition in 2009 and 2010. The 6-foot striker notched goals against Brazil (12/5/2009), Argentina (6/23/2010) and a brace against Mexico (2/24/2010) leading the U17s to a 2-1-0 record in games in which the formidable forward found the back of the net. Gulley was named to U.S. Soccer's U17 Residency program, however, the youthful forward has spent part of every summer locally in Chicago dating back to 2006. In that time, the 17-year-old striker has been involved in various Fire Juniors player pool and identification events, played in three consecutive SUM/Generation adidas Cups (2009-11) and trained with the club's first team, PDL and Super-20 sides during the 2010 season.

Most recently Kellen Gulley contributed to the Chicago Fire's 2011 SUM/Generation adidas Cup team that had 2 wins and 4 loses between July 25-July 31. That record may sound bad but one of the two wins was over eventual Cup champion LA Galaxy. In fact, the Fire were the only team to beat the Galaxy side that at its core was the same group that won the U-16 United States Developmental Academy Championship earlier this summer. That game was Gulley's first competitive match in several months after suffering an ACL injury. Gulley entered as a second half sub and scored within five minutes of taking the field.

That story is a great example of his natural talent for scoring goals but it also shows he has a way to go before getting back to full speed after his injury. He may not be signing with the first team until 2012 but I do expect him to feature heavily in Reserves League games. The remaining games at Toyota Park this year are on Sunday, August 28, 2011 at 10:00 AM, and Tuesday, September 6, 2011 with the time TBD. As for his 2012 impact, well that's debatable too. For those who didn't look get to look at it the first time around, here's our review of how home grown players and other young players in MLS are actually contributing to the league. Don't forget that we signed Victor Pineda last year and he hasn't featured on the bench even. For the roster hounds, here's a look at how the roster shakes out even if Gulley is not officially signing until 2012. This is a big deal but the dividends may not pan out for awhile. Welcome to the team Kellen Gulley.

Team Player Position Roster Type Age
1 CHI Banner Michael D Domestic 26
2 CHI Chaves Diego F International 25
3 CHI Conway Jon GK Domestic 34
4 CHI Cuesta Yamith D International 22
5 CHI Gargan, Dan D Domestic 28
6 CHI Gibbs Cory D Domestic 31
7 CHI Grazzini Sebastian F International 30
8 CHI Husidic Baggio M Domestic 24
9 CHI Maric Marko M International 28
10 CHI Mikulic Josip D International 25
11 CHI Nazarit Cristian F International 20
12 CHI Nyarko Patrick F Domestic 25
13 CHI Oduro Dominic F Domestic 25
14 CHI Paladini Daniel M Domestic 26
15 CHI Pappa Marco M International 23
16 CHI Pardo Pavel M International 35
17 CHI Pause Logan M Domestic 29
18 CHI Segares Gonzalo D Domestic 28
19 CHI Videira Michael M Domestic 25
20 CHI Watson-Siriboe, Kwame D Domestic 24
Supplemental Roster
21 CHI Anibaba Jalil D Domestic 22
22 CHI Barouch Orr F Reserve/Domestic 19
23 CHI Bone Corben M Generation adidas /Domestic 22
24 CHI Dufty Alec GK Reserve/Domestic 24
25 CHI Ferrari Gabriel F Domestic 22
26 CHI Gulley Kellen F Home Grown/Domestic 17
27 CHI Johnson Sean GK Generation adidas /Domestic 22
28 CHI Kinney Steven D Domestic 23
29 CHI Pantazopoulos Pari D Reserve/Domestic 22
30 CHI Pineda Victor M Home Grown/Domestic 18