Brandon Vincent

On Sunday afternoon, Chicago Fire defender Brandon Vincent was named to the 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game roster after being hand-picked by San Jose Earthquakes manager and All-Star Game head coach Dominic Kinnear.


Coming off Saturday's match at FC Dallas, the 22-year-old was given the news that he was headed to the Bay Area -- where he starred in his college days at Stanford University -- alongside international superstars like Didier Drogba, Sebastian Giovinco, and David Villa.


“It was unbelievable," he said Monday of his selection. "An honor, obviously, and I’m really excited about it. (There's been) a lot of support from the guys and the organization saying congratulations. I’m just really looking forward to representing the club and the fans and doing my best.”


The 2016 No. 4 overall MLS SuperDraft pick was one of two rookies chosen to represent MLS in San Jose in the league’s annual mid-summer exhibition, joining Philadelphia defender Keegan Rosenberry, who was selected one spot ahead of Vincent in January’s SuperDraft. The rookies are among 26 players headed to San Jose's Avaya Stadium with the opportunity to line up against Premier League powerhouse Arsenal (Thursday, July 28, 6:30 p.m. CT, ESPN/UniMas).


“I think it’s a fantastic achievement for him,” Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic said Monday. “Also for our team, because I think everyone on the roster helped him to get such an important achievement in the first year of his professional career being a rookie. We are all happy about it.”


Vincent has become a regular along the left flank for Paunovic’s squad, having started 11 of the 12 games in which he’s appeared this season. He’s registered 53 total clearances, blocks, and interceptions to this point, and added the first assist of his career in the build-up to forward Michael de Leeuw’s game-winning goal in the team’s 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City on July 13. Vincent played a smart ball to midfielder Razvan Cocis off a restart that put him in position for a low service in the box that de Leeuw finished.



“We want to encourage Brandon to keep on working hard and well as he’s been doing so far,” Paunovic said. “For our team, where we have a lot of young players, it’s a good example also that there are people looking at our team and people who value the effort and the quality of our players.”


To call Vincent’s last eight months a whirlwind might be an understatement. In December, the Valencia, Calif. native scored a goal in Stanford’s 4-0 defeat of Clemson in December’s NCAA National Championship game. That was followed by a January call-up to the U.S. Men’s National team camp, where he was among now-teammates Matt Polster and Sean Johnson as his name was called on SuperDraft day.


He then got his first national team cap in the team’s 1-0 victory over Canada in early February, when he came on as a second half substitution. Now, in July, he’s an MLS All-Star.


“When you take a step back and look at it in a big perspective, it’s pretty crazy to think about all the things that have happened in the last nine months,” Vincent said. “I think the most important thing is -- through the ups and downs -- to keep my head on straight and working hard no matter what. That’s what I’m going to try to do and keep on doing.”


As he prepares for another career first in a year that has been full of them, Vincent is aware that all he can control is his approach to his game. If he does that, everything else will continue to fall in line.


“I don’t really know what to expect (in San Jose),” he said. “I’m just going to go there and represent the club as best as I can, everybody else, the fans, and all the people that supported me, and when I get on the field hopefully just do my best and see what happens.”