So we know what we want out of the first round of the MLS SuperDraft for the Chicago Fire. It’s possible we might talk about more players later, but right now we need to move on to later rounds.
The later rounds normally don’t mean much (especially to a team with no USL team <insert angry face>), but plenty of Fire legends have come through the third round. And when I say “third round”, I mean specifically the third round (See: Ante Razov, Jim Curtain, Logan Pause, Chris Rolfe, Gonzalo Segares, Quincy Amarikwa, Greg Cochrane, and the man, the myth, the legend, Nick “He’ll Rock Ya” LaBrocca). [Ed. - We gotta have a talk about this ‘legends’ business.]
The Fire don’t have a second round pick anymore, which is a fair trade for a brand new central midfielder. But now it means I have to dig even deeper. And that’s not very easy. So here’s a short little episode with three fun little gems that’ll probably fall way too far right into the Fire’s lap!
Coming from the same wonderful place that gave us Matt Polster, Austin is a 5’11” biology major who has started in almost every single game since his freshman year. He’s not much for goals (unless you count the six he scored this year and ONLY this year), but he’ impressed enough of the right people to merit getting into the MAC Hermann watchlist this past year. Once again, this is mostly a defensive player, but it’s the kind of guy we need. He has all the credibility, winning MVC Player of the Year and Defender of the Year this past year and making it onto the NSCAA All-Region team. Although I don’t see him getting through the second round, I think enough teams don’t have SIUE on their radar the way the Fire does, so we’ve got a shot at him.
This guy led an interesting path to where he is now. Coming from South Africa, he didn’t start off at a big college, but instead he went to JuCo (junior college for those who didn’t watch “Last Chance U”). Apparently he tore it up in Tyler Junior College, netting 34 goals and dropping 19 assists in his two years there. He was named the NSCAA JuCo POY (that’s a lot of abbreviations) in 2014, the same year he lead Tyler to the NJCAA championship. After getting placed on the NSCAA All-American first team, he went to Florida to try to further his education (he was on the Dean’s List and he wanted more!). His first season there saw him get 8 goals and 6 assists, a solid bit of work in a college season. This past year Top Drawer Soccer proclaimed him the next Dom Dwyer. The pressure must’ve gotten to him as he further dropped his numbers, only getting 6 goals. This doesn’t look good for him and his stock has fallen, but that doesn’t mean he’s not good enough. He will take up an international slot, but if he’s on he could be worth it.
Here’s another goalkeeper for you guys. He’s also another foreigner, from Dortmund (like Ruiz, he’s from the city, not the academy). Also like another player mentioned before, he’s a transfer student. He came to the Demons by way of Binghamton University, where he was named America East Goalkeeper of the Year twice and even made it to the NSCAA All-Region First Team. Unfortunately there are no stats from there, so I can only tell you what he did this year. His ERA is comparatively unimpressive to the previously mentioned net-minders, but at 1.36 he looks good for being on a fairly bad team (sorry, Duke). He faced 193 shots and ended up with a .736 save percentage, and ended with a 7-8-2 record. The main focus with this guy would be to put an actually good defense in front of him. Unfortunately, the Fire are still trying to find one, but if we did this guy might shine with that help.
So that’s all the player profiles going into the draft, now it’s time to get into the thick of it. As a young child, my favorite time of the year was the NFL Draft Combine. It was sort of like gladiatorial combat: They were proving themselves worthy to their “kings” and were basically performing feats of strength to save their lives. The MLS Combine doesn’t have quite the same allure, nor does it have anywhere close to the amount of coverage, but it’s what we’re going to be talking about next week! Stay tuned.
<Jiggly’s Note: There may or may not be a few previously mentioned players who are no longer available. Don’t worry, this happens sometimes. I will lead you through my new picks when I get the chance.>