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.
|23||CHI||Bone Corben||M||Generation adidas /Domestic||22|
|26||CHI||Gulley Kellen||F||Home Grown/Domestic||17|
|27||CHI||Johnson Sean||GK||Generation adidas /Domestic||22|
|30||CHI||Pineda Victor||M||Home Grown/Domestic||18|