Brendan King: "I had to go home and play for my hometown team”
Brendan King always had his eyes on a route back home.
After the 27th pick in the 2012 SuperDraft was cast off by Portland at the end of last year's preseason, the Chicagoland-native found opportunities to play in Europe, first for Bray Wanderers FC in Ireland, then for Alta IF in Norway. On Thursday, the Chicago Fire signed the former Notre Dame and US U-17 winger, paving the way for King to return to where it all began.
“My idea was to go to Europe and someday return to MLS when the opportunity presented itself,” King said on a conference call from Norway. “I'm really honored to be given this opportunity.”
The right-footed winger joins a team in immediate need of wide midfielders. King has spent the last few years playing on the left, where the Fire have a hole after the departure of designate player Alvaro Fernandez.
The Fire invited King to preseason camp at the beginning of preseason, but he was still under contract with Alta IF, which was relegated to Norway's second division last season.
King played in just seven games for Alta IF and one for Bray Wanderers, but the experience, he said, made him a much better player.
“I learned a lot in the time that I spent here, and I've become a better player for it,” King said. “The mental aspect of my game has improved … I think all-in-all, [playing in Norway] was a good experience.”
The Notre Dame product will join the Fire in Ventura, Calif., for their second leg of preseason next week. But he's familiar with the Fire organization already.
King grew up attending Fire games, harking back to the days when they played at Soldier Field and in his hometown of Naperville, Ill., where he went to Benet Academy for two years before heading to the US Residency program in Bradenton, Fla.
King played for the Fire Super-20 youth team in 2008 and for the Fire PDL team in 2009, so he knew the club had an eye on him. Still, it was a surprise when they decided to bring back home.
“I hadn't really planned on coming to MLS this year, but when the opportunity came, I thought, 'This kind of opportunity might never happen again,” King said. “Once they made the offer, it was really just a no-brainer. I had to take it, I had to go home and play for my hometown team.”