The Chicago Fire have spent most of the offeseason getting younger, shedding older midfielders (in particular) in favor of a passel of younger players - out went Joel Lindpere, Arevalo Rios and Wells Thompson, in came Harry Shipp, Chris Ritter and Victor Pineda. Wednesday morning, that youth movement got stronger with the addition of US20 stalwart Benji Joya, who joined the club via weighted lottery:
Benji Joya to Chicago Fire, according to a source close to the deal. Not confirmed as yet by MLS or club.— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) February 5, 2014
Fire win lottery for midfielder Joya | Chicago Fire Confidential http://t.co/1mPtFgDUNO— Guillermo Rivera (@FireConf) February 5, 2014
Joya, 20, is an exuberant, rangy box-to-box midfielder from the San Francisco Bay area. Most of his reputation, which is considerable, is derived from his time as 'the glue' for Tab Ramos' U20 World Cup team; he and Pineda were teammates on that roster, and it was Joya's play which played a role in Pineda getting very few minutes in France.
As playing time was difficult to wrangle from the highly-paid starters of Santos Laguna, Joya is returning to the USA some two years after turning pro at 18. It's make-or-break time for Benji Joya, and Fire supporters are likely to be happy with the outcome.