In the latest evidence of the Chicago Fire's offseason intention to build through youth, CF97 today announced the re-signing of 19-year-old Kellen Gulley and 21-year-old Yazid Atouba for the 2014 season. As usual in MLS, terms of the agreements were not released.
Gulley, a gifted but as yet inconsistent forward who hails from Clinton, Mississippi, first came to the Fire as a Homegrown signing in August 2011 after a scorching youth career for Mississippi Fire Juniors. Despite being on the senior roster for more than two seasons, he has yet to make an appearance for the first team. Gulley spent last season on loan to the second-division Atlanta Silverbacks of the NASL, making 10 appearances without scoring.
Atouba, a tiny but water-bug quick left-footed winger from Yaoundé, Cameroon, was signed by the Fire in March of last year after being drafted with the 30th pick of the 2013 SuperDraft. Atouba made three appearances for the Men in Red, although all came early in the season. Questions about visa difficulties had made his returning to the club somewhat doubtful, but today's announcement indicates those hurdles have been surmounted by the club.
Since head coach Frank Yallop's hirig, the Fire have re-affirmed contracts with their two previous Homegrown players (Victor Pineda and Gulley), recruited two more Homegrowns (Harrison Shipp and Chris Ritter), announced a phenomenal north-side development facility, and re-signed a potentially explosive young talent in Atouba. Youth movement ahoy!