It’s a move that’s been rumored for months and made the most sense for both player and club. And now it’s official: Grant Lillard has joined the Chicago Fire.
The Hinsdale, IL native joins the club as a Homegrown Player, on a contract covering the 2018 and 2019 seasons (with club options for 2020 and 2021).
Lillard will put on the red shirt with a white stripe after an incredible senior year at Indiana University. He started every game for IU in 2017, posting 18 clean sheets and allowing just seven goals. He helped lead the Hoosiers to the College Cup final last month. He was named the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and named to the First-Team All-Big Ten. He was also a MAC Hermann Trophy finalist and named a First-Team All-American by the United Soccer Coaches.
Speaking to the official team website, Lillard said that signing with the Fire is the reward for years and years of hard work.
“It’s a dream come true to sign with my hometown club. After moving here in high school, this is where I set as my goal to play. It’s an unbelievable experience to have it become a reality. Even with the Academy, we always talked about what it means to represent the Chicago Fire and wear the badge. To be able to do it now at the senior level and in front of hometown fans is an unbelievable honor.”
As we wrote last month, this move is a no-brainer for both the Fire and for Lillard. He meets a position of need, his size and physicality will be a huge asset to the squad, and he provides fortification to the spine of the team. Don’t be surprised if the kid starts getting starting minutes sooner rather than later.