With MLS SuperDraft week finally upon us, the Chicago Fire soccer operations staff has gathered in Los Angeles to take part in the annual league event that kicks off this Friday, Jan. 13 at 2 pm CT (live stream available via MLSsoccer.com).
To add to what has already been an active offseason from a player acquisition standpoint, the Fire additionally hold the third and 11th overall picks in the first round of this year's draft. That isn't entirely dissimilar to 2016, in which the club ended up selecting in spots four and 12 in the first round after a draft day trade with New York City FC.
Heading into this year's festivities, general manager Nelson Rodríguez and his staff have outlined an approach that he feels will allow them to get the most out of their two first round selections.
"We have our plan built out for the SuperDraft," Rodríguez said, speaking on a conference call with local media this afternoon. "We have contingencies and we have options built within that plan. We think there’s a depth of talent that we feel very good about our selections at No. 3 and No. 11. Of course, we will also consider all options made available to us. That might even include trading up or trading down."
Last year's first round picks - defenders Brandon Vincent (fourth overall) and Jonathan Campbell (12th overall) - ended up playing a combined 59 MLS regular season matches for the Fire. Adding players that similarly challenge those already under contract in Chicago will be an emphasis on Friday afternoon.
"We don’t go into it with a preconceived notion, other than our intention is to build competition on this roster for every spot such that training makes us all better," Rodríguez added.
While it remains unclear which certain players or position groups he and head coach Veljko Paunovic will be targeting on Friday, there has been no shortage of opportunities to get familiar with this year's crop of SuperDraft eligible players. The MLS Player Combine has been in full swing this week, and will wrap up tomorrow with a final doubleheader played among this year's crop of combine invitees.
Click below to brush up which players are trending up and what to be on the lookout for come draft day with a roundup of recent takes and tools from MLSsoccer.com:
- Everything you need to know about the 2017 MLS SuperDraft
- 2017 MLS SuperDraft Live Tracker
- Parchman: Ranking the top 5 MLS SuperDraft prospects at each position
- Doyle: 2017 Mock SuperDraft v2.0
- Stejskal: The top players in Combine testing
In the meantime - with the club yet again set to make a pair of high selections in the SuperDraft - check out the chart below to brush up on Chicago’s history of first-round picks:
|Year||Name||Overall Pick||Games Played
for Chicago (MLS Regular Season)
|2016||Jack Harrison (F)||No. 1||0 (Traded to NYCFC for 2016 fourth overall selection)|
|2016||Brandon Vincent (D)||No. 4||26 (active)|
|2016||Jonathan Campbell (D)||No. 12||33 (active)|
|2015||Matt Polster (M)||No. 7||57 (active)|
|2014||Marco Franco (D)||No. 13||0|
|2013||No first-round pick|
|2012||Austin Berry (D)||No. 9||62|
|2011||Jalil Anibaba (D)||No. 9||96|
|2010||Corben Bone (M)||No. 13||18|
|2009||No first-round pick|
|2008||Patrick Nyarko (M)||No. 7||196|
|2008||Dominic Cervi (GK)||No. 12||0|
|2007||Bakary Soumare (D)||No. 2||111 (two stints)|
|2007||Jerson Monteiro (F)||No. 8||5|
|2006||Calen Carr (F)||No. 10||82|
|2005||Chad Barrett (F)||No. 3||82|
|2005||Jack Stewart (D)||No. 10||14|
|2004||Scott Buete (D)||No. 9||21|
|2003||Nate Jaqua (F)||No. 3||92|
|2002||Kelly Gray (D/M)||No. 5||84|
|2002||Billy Sleeth (D)||No. 10||13|
|2001||No first-round pick|
|2000||Carlos Bocanegra (D)||No. 4||87|
|1999||Evan Whitfield (D/M) *||No. 11||103|
|1998||Ritchie Kotschau (D) *||No. 2||28|