Homecoming | Meet Chicago Fire FC SuperDraft First Round Pick Bryan Dowd

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For Bryan Dowd, being selected sixth overall to Chicago Fire FC is more than a dream come true. 

It’s a homecoming. 

Widely considered as the best goalkeeper in the 2024 SuperDraft class, the Fire were keen on bringing home a familiar face when they were officially “on the clock.” 

With their highest pick since the 2018 season, the Fire entered the draft intent on choosing the Chicago native with the sixth overall selection.

“Bryan was the top player on our draft board heading into Tuesday.” said Eddie Rock, SVP of Football Operations. “He’s a leader, a winner and has demonstrated consistent growth over the past six years.” 

“We are not shy about wanting the best players from Chicago to make up the foundation of our first team. We know that wearing the badge and the city’s colors are going to mean a lot to Bryan.” Rock added.  

On top of being named TopDrawerSoccer National Player of the Year in 2023, the young goalkeeper was also named a United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American.

While it was no surprise that he would be selected in the SuperDraft, he never could’ve imagined that he was going back to where it all started. 

“I blacked out.” Dowd said with a chuckle, “It was such a rush of emotions of happiness and gratitude. I was just so thankful for the moment, you know, to be put in a situation where I get to experience this type of joy and beauty in life.” 

Grateful for the opportunity to return to the Windy City, Dowd emphasized how his tenure at the Chicago Fire Academy and Chicago FC United developed him into the player he is today and the player he strives to become. 

“When I joined the Academy, I was really shown the beauty of the game,” Dowd praises, “With the Fire Academy, I really started to develop from a kid that’s a soccer player into a young adult who loves the game and loves the goalkeeping position.”

It’s no secret that the Fire have a rich pedigree of men between the sticks. On top of developing homegrown talent such as Gaga Slonina and Chris Brady, the Fire have found success at the draft as well, selecting USMNT goalkeeper Sean Johnson in 2010. 

That developmental success is not lost on Dowd, who will be trained by the most decorated goalkeeper in Club history, Zach Thornton. 

“I feel so lucky and blessed [to be training under Thornton]”, Dowd said, “I know the type of products that Chicago Fire FC makes when it comes to goalkeepers, and to be seen as skilled enough to hopefully be a future name of great goalkeepers that the Fire produced, it's truly an honor.” 

The Fenwick High School graduate is a rare kind of athlete, too. 

Not only is he a star goalkeeper, but the Notre Dame senior also serves as the kicker of the Fighting Irish (American) football team.  

Many of his football teammates were at his side when Apple TV host Andrew Wiebe announced his name to the Fire faithful.

“Coach Brian Mason approached me with an unbelievable opportunity to train with the team and see if I was a good fit and I took advantage of it.” Dowd said with pride. “I am still playing with the team, getting ready for our bowl game against Oregon State in a few weeks.” 

Originally a fun idea he ran with, his experience with the Irish football team quickly turned into a teaching moment that made him an even better goalkeeper.  

“I try to soak up all of the wisdom the coaches have to offer,” said Dowd. “One of Coach [Marcus] Freeman's sayings that I've really taken to heart is “One play, one life” and I have that written on my gloves as a constant reminder to take things one play at a time. I've honestly learned so much and it really has made its way into my soccer play.” 

Dowd has had quite a busy couple of weeks. So busy in fact, he couldn’t even participate in the MLS SuperDraft Combine because he was competing for a College Cup title and travelling with his college football program when it took place.  

Despite his busy schedule, Chicago’s football operations staff made the time to interview him and express their interest in him. 

“In the last three, four days, I had some great interviews and great calls with various people from the Fire and that's where I started to realize that this may just actually happen.” Dowd said.  

It happened, indeed.  

The focus now shifts to a bowl game – then the 2024 season for Dowd. 

Welcome (back) to Chicago, Bryan.