Your time has come, Chicago Fire fan. It is time for the Fire to reap the benefits of stumbling to a league-worst eight victories in 2015.
All the times Kennedy Igboananike missed the net, all the times Frank Yallop played Harry Shipp out of position, all the times the Fire let the other team score; it will all be worth it for a brief moment Thursday.
Because on Thursday the Chicago Fire will select the No. 1 overall pick at the MLS SuperDraft in Baltimore. Whoever Nelson Rodriguez and Veljko Paunovic believes is the best of the best is guaranteed to be available.
While the decision is ultimately theirs, representatives from all the SB Nation MLS blogs took a crack at selecting the perfect college player for their respective club. Here is what the Fire could do Thursday.
No. 1: Joshua Yaro – Centerback – Georgetown
The No. 1 overall pick seems like a foregone conclusion and I think it is an obvious choice for a Fire team that gave up a league-high 58 goals in 2015. Yaro turned heads his entire career at Georgetown and went into the MLS Combine as the most highly touted player in the class. The reigning Big East Player of the Year could be the best pure athlete in the draft, possessing the speed to make up not only for his mistakes but others as well.
His stint at the combine raised further questions about his size and optimal position. Does his 5’10"-ish frame make him a right back by default, or does his athleticism still allow him to thrive in a centerback role? The answer is really a moot point for the Fire. Chicago needs both. It would be great if he developed into a rock solid centerback, but an explosive right back would be great all the same. With only Eric Gehrig and Patrick Doody as likely back four players, the Fire could use all the bodies they can get to fill the back line. The best collegiate defender in the country would be a good place to start.
Expect the Fire to select Yaro and expect the Ghanaian to be in the opening day starting XI. He has a chance to be a very special player.
No. 33: Ivan Magalhaes - Centerback - Maryland
With the pick acquired from D.C. United in the Patrick Nyarko trade, I expect the Fire to keep the focus on defense. However, if Notre Dame’s Patrick Hodan slips to No. 33 as he almost did in the SB Nation mock draft, Chicago should seriously consider adding the midfielder to reunite what was a potent attack with Harry Shipp in college. That scenario aside, Magalhaes would be a safe if not strong addition.
The Brazilian defender had a good showing at the MLS Combine and is widely considered a top-50 overall player in the collegiate ranks. By the time the Fire pick at No. 33, he could be the best defender left with the likes of Ohio State’s Liam Doyle and VCU’s Dennis Castillo likely off the board. Magalhaes would provide the size Yaro lacks and bring physicality to central defense. His aerial game could become a weapon. He could be a bit too raw or slow footed to start right away and a loan to St. Louis may be in the plans. But if Yaro does move to right back, this gives another option in central defense.
It is impossible to project where these young players may start with the Fire’s roster so incomplete. Ideally, Chicago will sign a veteran centerback to help Yaro while a player like Magalhaes develops in St. Louis. A starting centerback pairing comprised exclusively of rookies is a recipe for disaster, no matter how talented the young men are.
Is Yaro your unquestionable No. 1 pick? Should the Fire double dip on defense or look for offense in the second round?