The Chicago Fire Soccer Club selected three players in the 2011 MLS SuperDraft and acquired a fourth via a trade with Toronto FC. With the club’s first overall selection, ninth overall, the club selected 22-year-old central defender Jalil Anibaba from the University of North Carolina. In the third round the Fire picked Jason Herrick (45th overall) from the University of Maryland and Davis Paul (51st overall) from the University of California. The Fire traded the 13th pick in the third round, 49th overall, with Toronto FC for veteran goalkeeper Jon Conway.
“We feel that we selected three young players and acquired a veteran that will improve our team ahead of the 2011 MLS season,” said Fire Technical Director Frank Klopas. “Each of our selections today helped address our specific needs. We feel this young crop of talent, and a proven veteran like Conway, will perform at the highest level while proudly wearing the Fire badge.”
Anibaba, a highly regarded prospect, appeared in 85 matches, starting 84, in a college career split between Santa Clara University and the University of North Carolina. The 6-0, 170 pound defender is the first defensive player selected in the first round by the Fire since 2007 when it selected Bakary Soumare. Signed by MLS prior to the SuperDraft, Anibaba is the first non-Generation adidas player selected by the club in the first round since 2007.
With the ninth selection in the third round, the Fire picked up Herrick, a college senior from Elmhurst, IL. While at Maryland, the target forward notched 29 goals and 13 assists in 81 appearances for the Terps. The 23-year-old garnered First Team All-ACC honors in 2009 and 2010. Herrick played his high school soccer at York Community High School in Elmhurst.
The Fire sent their 13th pick in the third round to Toronto FC for Conway. Conway becomes the third goalkeeper on the Fire’s roster. With the addition of the reserve division in 2011, the former TFC ‘keeper provides support at the goalkeeper position. The 33-year-old broke into the league with the San Jose Earthquakes in 2000 where he made 18 appearances over the course of five seasons. In 2005, Conway was traded to the New York Red Bulls. From 2006-2009, the Media, PA native, appeared in 69 matches averaging 1.345 goals against average. Conway spent 2009 with Chivas USA and 2010 with Toronto FC.
The Fire snagged Paul with the 15th selection in third round. The Upland, California product scored 15 goals and added 21 assists in 78 appearances with the Golden Bears from 2007-2010. At 5-8, 145 pounds, Paul was named NSCAA Third Team All-American and NSCAA First Team All-Pac-10.
The Fire will host Opening Day at TOYOTA PARK against Sporting Kansas City on Saturday, March 26 at 3:00 PM CT. Chicago Fire Season Tickets and 2011 Winter Packs, which give fans the opportunity to witness the Men in Red in action on Opening Day and the Fire’s second home match in 2011, are available by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE (657-3473), via Ticketmaster or by heading to the club’s official website at Chicago-Fire.com. The Men in Red will begin their 14th MLS season during “First Kick” week when they travel to Dallas to challenge Brimstone Cup rivals and MLS Cup runners up FC Dallas at Pizza Hut Park on Saturday, March 19 at 7:30 PM CT.