After years of waiting, the Chicago Fire finally formed a second team this season with the introduction of MLS Next Pro. We are now two-thirds of the way through the season, and Chicago Fire II sit in 8th place in the Eastern Conference. While the results haven’t always been perfect, some of Chicago’s young stars have been shining for Fire II. It’s certainly worth a trip to Bridgeview to watch the team, but even if you can’t, it’s still worth keeping an eye on some of these players who could make an impact at the first team level in the near future.
Though he already made his MLS debut earlier this season, Victor Bezerra has spent most of this season playing with Fire II. He is the most likely player on this list to make an immediate impact with the first team in the near future, though, as he has been in phenomenal form in MLS Next Pro. Bezerra can play as a 10 but has primarily lined up as a center forward for Fire II. He leads the team in goals with 7, including a 49-minute hat trick in the most recent game against Orlando City B.
Bezerra made a 9-minute cameo against Atlanta United earlier this year, marking his first MLS appearance, but he also played 43 minutes off the bench in the US Open Cup loss to Union Omaha. Since he missed a great opportunity in the closing minutes to win the game for the Fire that night, his form has been excellent, and he has displayed that he is a clinical finisher who can make good runs in the final third. He is already 22 years old, but Bezerra is certainly a player to keep an eye on.
Perhaps the best-known player on this list, Chris Brady is perceived as one of the best goalkeeping prospects on the planet. Some might call it misfortune that Brady happened to come up at the same club at the same time as another elite goalkeeping talent, Gaga Slonina, but in many ways it has pushed him to become even better. While Gaga has been attracting global attention for his exploits in MLS, Brady has quietly been building up a strong resume with Fire II and the US Youth National Team.
Whether it be for national team duty, injury, or, most recently, health and safety protocols, Brady has been unavailable for the second team for most of the year. However, when he has played, he has thrived; in five matches, Brady has tallied 3 shutouts, with only 2 goals conceded. With the national team, he started every knockout game in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship as the U.S.A. qualified for the Olympics and won the trophy, before being named the tournament’s Golden Glove winner. Brady is viewed as the heir to the starting goalkeeper job with the Fire in MLS, and it's clear that that position is in safe hands.
Sergio Oregel Jr.
When Fire II take to the field every week, Sergio Oregel is always the youngest player out there. That hasn’t stopped him from being a huge difference-maker for the team, though, because he has been one of the best players this season. Though he was more of an attacking midfielder in his academy days, Oregel has mostly played as a holding midfielder, a role where he has thrived. The 17-year-old has been the anchor of the midfield and displayed his excellent ability on the ball.
Oregel debuted for the first team in the Open Cup game against Omaha and was one of the Fire’s better performers on the night. He has 12 starts in MLS Next Pro but is yet to play in MLS. Oregel has also been called into camp twice for the U.S. U-19 National Team, scoring against Norway in a 3-0 win last month. He still has some development to do to be ready to play with the big boys in MLS, but it surely won’t be too long before he makes that jump; the sky is the limit for Oregel.
Perhaps the most interesting player in the entire Fire II team is 18-year-old Guyana international Omari Glasgow. The winger is on an MLS Next Pro contract, and as such, is the only player on this list who is not officially a member of the Fire first team. However, all indications suggest that may change soon, and a pro deal could be on the cards. Glasgow has been among the standouts for Fire II, providing 3 goals and 2 assists in just 6 starts since joining the club.
A quick and incisive winger, Glasgow is already emerging as one of the stars of his country’s national team despite his young age. In the most recent set of CONCACAF Nations League matches, Glasgow scored three goals in the space of two games, including a pair of game-winners which have kept Guyana alive in their chase for Gold Cup qualification. He is also excellent on set pieces, scoring a beautiful long-range free-kick against Montserrat last month. If (or when) that first team promotion arrives, it will be exciting to see how Glasgow can translate his talent to the MLS level.