With four selections in the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft the Chicago Fire Soccer Club acquired forward Evans Frimpong (9th overall), goalkeeper Carl Woszczynski (15th overall) midfielder Tony Walls (47th overall) and defender Justin Chavez (66th overall). They will join SuperDraft selections Lucky Mkosana and Hunter Jumper, Open Tryout winner Fabrizio Pittaluga and Re-Entry Draft selection Kheli Dube in attempting to win a roster spot with the Chicago Fire for the 2012 season. A little more on each player, other Supplemental Draft thoughts, Yamith Cuesta might be leaving, and Steven Kinney may never return are all after the break.
"We've taken four players in Evans, Carl, Tony and Justin that we feel can come in and challenge for a roster spot," said Fire head coach Frank Klopas. "All four players have performed well at the collegiate ranks and we're looking forward to welcoming them into training camp this week in Florida."
Frank might be telling the truth there but some will have it much tougher than others. Of all the drafted players, including SuperDraftees Mkosana and Jumper and even Re-Entry Draftee Dube, goaltender Carl Woszczynski stands the best chance of making the team. He is 6-5, 210-pounds and hails from Columbus, Indiana. At the University of Alabama-Birmingham, he made 63 appearances, tallying 18 clean sheets and a 35-18-7 all-time record between 2007-11. Woszczynski grew up a Fire fan as evidenced by the tweet that soon followed his selection.
@Section8Chicago couldn't be more excited to be drafted by the team I've always supported, @ChicagoFire!!! #cf97
His fandom isn't what gives him the best odds though, nor is it his ethnicity. Woszczynski has a great chance to make the squad if he can simply be a passable backup goalie in MLS. He has good size and would only take up a spot on the 10-man Supplemental Roster. If Woszczynski can't cut the mustard, the Fire have a bit of a search on their hands. There is no room for another goalie on the 20-man Senior Roster. It's possible that the 3rd goalie will get as much time as Alec Dufty did in 2011 (0 minutes and a couple of bench warmings), but don't forget Sean Johnson is primed to represent the United States in the Summer Olympics. He would miss time making Jay Nolly the first option and Woszczynski the potential back-up.
Evans Frimpong is slightly behind Woszczynski in chances of making the squad as a 5'9 striker. He attended the University of Delaware where he tallied 15 goals and six assists during two seasons with the Blue Hens from 2010-11. In his senior season he lead the team to the Colonial Athletic Association tournament championship. Prior to heading to Newark, he played for N.A.I.A. outfit University of Texas-Brownsville where he appeared in 18 matches, tallying eight goals and three assists during the 2009 season.
Klopas and company seem to be drawn to African strikers that enjoyed success in college soccer they played in the United States. Dominic Oduro, Patrick Nyarko, Kheil Dube, Lucky Mkosana, and Evans Frimpong all excelled on their collegiate teams. If you want to go deeper with the connections, both Frimpong and Dube had to attend N.A.I.A schools before transferring to bigger schools. Mkosana and Dube share a Zimbabwean connection. Oduro, Nyarko and Frimpong are all from Ghana. Frimpong and Oduro were even both born in Accra although that is like finding two Americans that were both born in New York City. The biggest question on my mind is whether or not Frimpong can converse with Nyarko and Oduro in Twi. Not all people in Ghana speak Twi, but the majority do. Nyarko and Oduro would openly converse in Twi during games in 2011 and the opposition had no idea what they were talking about.
The last two picks, Tony Walls and Justin Chavez, don't stand a very good chance of making the team because the former plays midfield and the latter is another central defender.
Walls, a 5-11, 185-pound midfielder, was selected by the Fire from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay where he recorded 18 goals and 11 assists over 79 appearances from 2008-11. A third-team NSCAA All-Region selection in 2011, Walls tallied seven goals and five assists over 19 games during his senior season, en route to being named the Horizon League Player of the Year. An alumnus of the Chicago Fire Premier, Walls tallied a goal and assist in 12 appearances for the side during the 2010 USL Premier Development League campaign. He has a nice Chicago connection but with the deep, deep midfield that could see Daniel Paladini and Corben Bone fighting for the role of midfielder on the bench who doesn't get into games, Walls has a long road ahead of him.
Chavez, a 5-11, 170-pound defender was picked by the Fire from the University of Tulsa where he tallied five goals and four assists in 77 matches for the Golden Hurricane from 2008-11. The Edmond, Okla. Product comes to the club having been named a two-time NSCAA All-Region honoree as well as a two-time Conference USA first team selections from 2010-11. He is not a fullback back though, or at least, not according to college soccer expert Joe Mauceri.
Chavez can play LB, if you don't mind people blowing by him; :) No, he's a solid CB, not athletic enough wide. Smart
Chavez might be smart but he will have to be an Einstein to make it through a crowded center back field of Cory Gibbs, Jalil Anibaba, Austin Berry, Josip Mikulic, Yamith Cuesta, and Kwame Watson-Siriboe. The factors playing in his favor are Mauceri ranked him as the 55th overall available player in this year's Super and Supplemental Drafts. The Fire did well to pick him up at No. 104 overall. Chavez might enjoy some comfort because he has an existing connection with Chicago Fire forward and Home Grown player Kellen Gulley. Gulley's brother James played alongside Chavez at the University of Tulsa. It's a small soccer world.
Walls comfort will come from the fact that he is from the Midwest and played for Chicago Fire Premier. When the Fire selected Tony Walls, it meant that all 14 of the Chicago Fire Premier players that were invited to the MLS Combine were drafted this year. Fire Director of Soccer & Team Development Paul Cadwell confirmed that 18 Chicago Fire Premier players were selected overall. A full list of theFire Premier players and where they were taken is at the bottom of this article.
First though, we get into a bit of news about Yamith Cuesta. FutbolMLS.com reporter Raquel Ortiz had a very interesting throwaway line in a recent article about the on-going saga of whether or not Pavel Pardo is actually re-signing.
Otro que tampoco regresaría es el defensa colombiano Yamith Cuesta. Con las recientes contrataciones realizadas, el Fire cambia hombre por hombre al no renovar a Chaves para traer en su lugar a su compatriota Federico Puppo mientras al defensa cafetalero Cuesta, lo suplirán con el también colombiano Rafael Robayo.
That's not looking good. It has the Diego Chaves situation where he just kind of drifts away written all over it. Maybe this Chavez kid will make the team after all. Cuesta was acquired last March for a 2012 Supplemental Draft pick. Chivas USA used that pick to select Daniel Steres. I think Chicago is going to come out ahead in that deal but it's curious to see them get rid of a promising young center back. Hopefully they have a player in mind they want to use Cuesta's international slot on.
Fire right back Steven Kinney was selected with the No. 45 pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft. With this year's change that made the SuperDraft only 38 picks, Kinney's No. 45 slot would have made him a Supplemental Draft pick in 2012. Kinney looked like he could start at RB in 2010 but then he tore his Achilles tendon in the last game of the season versus Chivas USA. His tendon recovered but he immediately picked up a sports hernia after that in August. Adam Lawson of 'The Pendulum' recently interviewed Kinney for a piece on former Elon University athletes playing professional sports. Kinney's story about being drafted is a heart-warming-must-read giving the draft timing but it also contains a discouragining note:
Unfortunately, the one match he missed was his last one, when a severely sprained ankle kept him out of the 2009 Southern Conference Tournament championship.
"That was heartbreaking," Kinney said.
Kinney played in 13 games for the Fire in 2010, starting the final 10 contests. But the injury bug bit him again as a torn Achilles tendon followed by a sports hernia kept Kinney out of action for the entire year in 2011. He's still recovering from the hernia and hopes to get on the field sometime in 2012.
The string of injuries recall one John Thorrington. It's possible the Fire received one of Kinney's most healthiest spurts he'll ever have. Kinney's timetable for return in 2011 was supposed to be late May/early June. Now he there's no timetable for the 2012 season. He certainly has the heart but Kinney's body may not be able to take the aggressive nature of professional sports. His roster spot is on the 10-man Supplemental Roster and his status as a member of the disabled list would allow the team to place him on the DL, still carry him, and sign someone like fullback and SuperDraft Selection Hunter Jumper.
Fire Premier Players
Once again Hot Time In Old Town extends their collective congratulations to the Chicago Fire Premier program and all of the players that were drafted in the 2012 MLS SuperDraft and Supplemental Draft. Chicago Fire team writer Jeff Crandall has a great write-up on the Chicago Fire Premier class that broke the previous record of players selected in the SuperDraft... despite that fact it was a good 12-16 picks shorter than ever before. Crandall also had the story when the Fire broke that record in 2010 and he wasn't even working for the Fire at the time. It's a small soccer world. At this rate the SuperDraft will be nothing but Chicago Fire Premier players by 2050. Here is the full list of Chicago Fire Premier players along with where and who they were drafted by:
No. 9 - Austin Berry - Chicago Fire
No. 10 - Ethan Finlay - Columbus Crew
No. 12 - Aaron Maund - Toronto FC
No. 15 - Andrew Duran - Seattle Sounders
No. 19 - Tommy Meyer - LA Galaxy
No. 20 - Calum Mallace - Montreal Impact
No. 21 - Chris Estridge - Vancouver Whitecaps
No. 22 - Tyler Polack - New England Revolution
No. 27 - Brendan King - Portland Timbers
No. 32 - Greg Jordan - Philadelphia Union
No. 38 - Kenney Walker - LA Galaxy
MLS Supplemental Draft
No. 10 - Kirk Urso - Columbus Crew
No. 19 - Bryan Gaul - LA Galaxy
No. 21 - Greg Klazura - Vancouver Whitecaps
No. 32 - Krystian Witkowski - Philadelphia Union
No. 43 - Stefan Antonijevic - Sporting KC
No. 47 - Tony Walls - Chicago Fire
No. 60 - Mike Roach - New England Revolution