Editor's Note: All information attributed to Nelson Rodriguez comes courtesy of Guillermo Rivera, of Fire Confidential, and Orrin Schwarz, of the Daily Herald. Both reporters participated in a Tuesday afternoon conference call with Rodriguez.
The Chicago Fire potentially found a late-draft gem Tuesday, landing Creighton right back Vincent Keller along with Butler midfielder Vincent Mitchell.
It is Keller that figures to be a possible steal, coming off an impressive collegiate career and bringing some notable international experience. Keller, a native of Freiburg, Germany, was part of the SC Freiburg squad that won the German Cup in 2011. He had three goals and 10 assists in 82 games for Creighton and was named All-Big East First Team this past season.
The 23-year-old was also highly touted by many experts heading into the draft. According to Matthew Doyle's top prospect list heading into the draft, Keller ranked as the No. 5 right back. The Fire also drafed Doyle's top ranked left back in Brandon Vincent and second ranked center back in Jonathan Campbell, perhaps making them the only club to leave the draft with three players ranked in the top-5 of their respective position.
Fire General Manager Nelson Rodriguez said he envisioned Keller as a right back and called him "intelligent" and "well spoken." Rodriguez also mentioned he saw Eric Gehrig, who played some right back in 2015, as a center back. That would leave Keller with a strong chance of making the team as new addition Michael Harrington is the likely first-option right back, but still in need of a backup.
The Fire drafted another All-Big East First Team player in Butler's Vincent Mitchell. Mitchell, a native of Jamaica, notched 18 goals and eight assists in 51 games for Butler. He was good enough to be invited to the Combine and had the second best points per game in the Big East behind only heralded Fabian Herbers, who was selected sixth overall by Philadelphia.
Late-round selections are always a bit of a long shot, but it would not be surprising to see at least Keller stick around with the club this season.
Rodriguez mentioned the Fire is in frequent contact with St. Louis FC to discuss both clubs' needs, so chances are there will be players loaned out and likely a couple of the five draft picks. Some of the St. Louis FC coaches will also join the Fire in Tampa for training camp to get a close look at some of the potential players that could join them.
With the draft over, the Fire can fully focus on international efforts. Rodriguez said he is still hoping to land three European center backs. Joao Meira, a 28-year-old center back from Portugal, is claiming he signed a deal with the club but the Fire have yet to make any official announcement.
Meira has some top flight experience in Portugal with Belenenses, but he was also dropped by the club prior to the start of the 2015-16 campaign and apparently had a previous eight month suspension for a failed drug test. A couple red flags should the signing prove to be true.