On a day when MLS divvied up its remaining draft picks via conference call - in other words, the MLS SuperDraft, rounds 3 & 4 - the Fire picked up one-time US U17 youth starlet Alex Shinsky, lately the captain of a powerhouse University of Maryland squad.
Shinsky, 21, of York, Pennsylvania, has already fought through more difficulty than veterans 10 years his senior. The outside midfielder was rated as the No. 1 recruit in the nation coming out of high school, and started for the US U17 squad in the Youth World Cup in Nigeria in 2009. He'd spent most of his high school years at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. - the same academy that Fire attacker Mike Magee attended a few years earlier.
But injuries don't care about pedigree, and it was injuries that derailed what had seemed a rocket-ship to the pros. A series of meniscus tears - two to one knee, one to the other - diverted his training time to rehabilitation, and he struggled to remain fit enough to play. In four years at Maryland, Shinsky only made 56 appearances, including 10 last season.
Despite that - or perhaps because of the fortitude honed in repeated bouts of grueling rehab - Shinsky was one of the leaders for a Maryland side that routinely made deep runs in the NCAA tournament. Consider this blog entry from Herrman Trophy winner Patrick Mullins, a teammate of Shinsky's at Maryland:
... we all face challenges in our soccer careers. We all encounter opportunities to propel our game to a higher level. The difference between Shinsky and most players is that he isn't afraid to take a risk. He has the fearlessness and self-belief to take on any challenge. Not only take on a challenge but know he will succeed.
Welcome to Chicago, Alex Shinsky. We hope your knee problems are behind you, and wish you nothing but the best.