Chicago Looks to the Future After SuperDraft

Fire adds depth and eager college players during the offseason
by Kiran Balan   |   Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Ladder 97 – column on Chicago Fire & the Chicagoland area soccer scene.

The Chicago Fire went into the 2014 MLS SuperDraft with several goals in mind for the upcoming season.

After combing through the vast array of talent on show during the draft, Fire fans will be happy with the decisions the Fire front office made in bringing in new player personnel to the team – players that add depth and an array of talent to a strong team.

With only 1 pick in the opening 2 rounds the Fire selected rightback Marco Franco with the 13th pick of the draft. The former UC-Irvine player who can also play at center back is very excited to hit the ground running and continue to learn from seasoned veterans on the team.

“I want to come in and give it my all but most importantly I want to learn from the other veteran players,” he said. “I’m a student of the game so I want to keep learning every day and push for their starting spot.”

If competition is what Franco wants, competition is what Franco will get. With Jalil Anibaba departing for the Seattle Sounders, Franco faces direct competition from Lovel Palmer for the starting rightback spot.

Franco boasts an impressive resume while playing 4 years at UC-Irvine. In 76 games he tallied 10 assists, and was highly rated by many soccer pundits in the lead up to the draft. He was also named a 2013 NSCAA Second Team All-American. His attacking style of play up the right flank will be another huge asset for the Fire moving forward. He will definitely be one player to keep tabs on in the upcoming season.

The Fire did not have another draft pick until the fourth round in which 3 midfielders were selected by the Fire. Zach Bolden, Kadeem Dacres and Bryan Ciesiulka were selected as the 61st, 65th, and 75th picks, respectively.  Of the 3 players, Yallop was quick to praise their playing abilities in college and mentioned how those qualities fit into the new system he is implementing.

Zach Bolden played at the University of Denver. The midfielder tallied 17 goals and 22 assists in 68 appearances.  During his senior at UD he was named the Summit League Offensive Player of the Year and earned All-Summit League First Team Honors.  If his numbers are any condition of where he plays, he looks to fit the attacking midfielder role, sitting right behind the striker.  His deadly eye for goal will also prove crucial when called upon by Coach Frank Yallop.

Kadeem Dacres, a player who MLS.com called the “steal” of the third and fourth round of the draft will look to break into the starting XI after 2 very strong seasons at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County. In 41 matches he scored 12 goals and provided 7 assists. In 2013 he earned First Team All-Conference and NSCAA All Northeast Region First Team honors. Dacres is also a former US youth international, so he has a lot of potential to be a part of a strong midfield system. He can also play on the wing. As a winger he has the ability to take on opponents on the flank and put in quality crosses to the strikers, another facet of the game that was missing for the Fire last season, and surely plays into Yallop’s overall gameplan.

The final pick for the Fire saw them pick up former Fire PDL and Fire Academy player Bryan Ciesiulka. The Marquette University midfielder was a three-year co-captain for the Golden Eagles. In 69 games he scored 9 goals and had 17 assists. In 2013 he was named Co-Big East Midfielder of the Year and earned 2013 First Team All-Big East honors.  Bryan and I were in the same graduating class at Neuqua Valley, and I was very fortunate to be able to watch a few of his games and he was a cut above the rest.  As a senior in high school, he was named the 2009 Gatorade Illinois Boys Soccer Player of the Year as he led the Wildcats to a perfect regular season. His winning attitude to the game will be crucial when called upon.

The 2014 draft provided the Fire with much needed younger talent while also adding depth to several key positions.  The men in red have been known to build their young players to success and with this draft class the tradition looks to continue. The 2014 season is just around the corner and as the players enter into pre-season training it will be imperative that they establish a strong work ethic while building team chemistry with the new additions to the team.

NEXT UP: March 9 – Chicago Fire vs. Chivas USA, StubHub Center, Carson, Calif. 3 p.m. EST, Unimas.

Kiran BALAN

Nationality:
USA
College:
Illinois State University
Club Domestic:
Chicago Fire
Club Foreign:
Chelsea
Columnist for his hometown MLS team, Chicago Fire. When he’s not flying down the left wing for ISU FC or in a pick-up game, he can be seen watching the beautiful game. A die-hard Chelsea and USMNT fan, he is keen to growing his soccer knowledge.
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