The Chicago Fire continue to prepare for the 2012 MLS preseason, with the club’s attention shifting to Kansas City, Mo. this week for the league’s annual SuperDraft set for Thursday, January 12. The first round of the 2012 SuperDraft will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN2 beginning at 11:00 a.m. CT with continuing coverage on MLSsoccer.com.
Frank Klopas’ side holds the ninth (first round), 23rd and 28th (both second round) overall selections in this year’s SuperDraft. The team used the ninth selection in 2011 to select defender Jalil Anibaba out of the University of North Carolina, with the Davis, Calif. product going on to tally three goals and one assist over 34 competitive matches. Anibaba won the club’s 2011 Goal of the Year for his long-range strike in a 2-1 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup qualifying victory over the Colorado Rapids, March 30 in Peoria, Ill.
Click here for more on the 2012 SuperDraft, MLS Combine information and history, MLS draft statistics and history as well as Combine participant player bios.
RAFAEL ROBAYO SIGNS WITH THE FIRE
The Chicago Fire announced Monday the signing of Colombian midfielder Rafael Robayo from Liga Postobon side Millonarios.
A mainstay in the Millonarios lineup, Robayo tallied 187 appearances and 20 goals in league play since joining the Bogota-based side in 2005. The box-to-box midfielder made 11 appearances and scored two goals, including one in the championship series during los Embajadores run to the 2011 Copa Colombia title, the club’s first hardware since 1988. Additionally, Robayo helped the side to the semifinals of the 2007 Copa Sudamericana, the best finish in club history. Since early 2010, Robayo served as club captain.
Robayo began his career at the age of 16, attending the Escuela de Futbol Vida in Bogota from 2000-02. From there, he signed his first professional contract with Medellin based Club Atletico Nacional where he made one appearance in 2003 before spending the 2004 season with Once Caldas.
Robayo has earned one cap for the Colombian Men’s National Team, coming on as a substitute during a 2-0 victory at Venezuela on September 3, 2010.
The Colombian becomes the fifth player to join or re-sign with the Fire over the offseason. Keep up with all of the club’s offseason transactions here.
JOHNSON JOINS JURGEN KLINSMANN’S U.S. MEN’S NATIONAL TEAM CAMP
After participating in two U.S. U-23 Men’s National Team camps as well as a 10-day training stint with English Premier League side Everton F.C., Fire goalkeeper Sean Johnson was recently included in Jurgen Klinsmann’s U.S. Men’s National Team training camp in Glendale, Ariz. and Carson, Calif. ahead of friendlies vs. Venezuela (January 21) and at Panama (January 25).
The call-up is the 22-year-old ‘keeper’s first for the senior team since making his debut under Bob Bradley in a 1-1 friendly draw vs. Chile, January 22, 2011 in Carson, Calif. Johnson recently wrote a diary entry detailing camp so far for USsoccer.com. Catch Sean’s entry here.
MATKOVICH, PERCOVICH RETURN AS FIRE ASSISTANTS IN 2012
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced last Friday that Mike Matkovich and Leo Percovich would return to the club as Frank Klopas’ assistant coaches for the 2012 Major League Soccer campaign.
Matkovich, 49, rejoins the Fire as an assistant coach, having previously served in the role for the club from 2009-10. The longtime Chicago-area coach played his first role with the club as the head coach of the Chicago Fire PDL from 2002-06. Hailing from Frankfort, Ill., Matkovich spent 2011 as the Director of Coaching for the Chicago Fire Juniors-South and as an assistant coach for the club’s Academy sides.
Entering his second season as an assistant coach with the Fire, Percovich, 43, is a former Copa Libertadores and Uruguayan First Division champion. A native of Montevideo, Uruguay, he served as a goalkeeper coach with the Colorado Rapids (2006-2007) and Chivas USA (2008-2009) before joining Toronto FC as an assistant coach in 2009.
2012 SEASON TICKET HOLDERS ENTERED TO WIN FREE PRESEASON TRIP TO CHARLESTON, S.C.
All Chicago Fire Season Ticket Holders that have newly bought or renewed their seats for 2012 by Feb. 3 are eligible to be chosen for a trip for two to see the team in its final preseason match vs. the Charleston Battery as part of the Carolina Challenge Cup, Saturday, March 3 at Blackbaud Stadium in Charleston, S.C.
Season Ticket Holders will receive one entry for every full 2012 Season Ticket purchased, with the Fire providing round-trip airfare for two, one night hotel stay and match tickets to the preseason clash.
Chicago Fire Season Tickets are available by calling 1-888-MLS-FIRE (657-3473) or by visiting www.ourcityourclub.com.
FIRE TO OPEN UP 2012 MLS CAMPAIGN MARCH 17 AT EXPANSION MONTREAL, HOST OPENING DAY MARCH 24 AGAINST PHILADELPHIA UNION
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club, in conjunction with Major League Soccer and its national television partners, unveiled the 2012 regular season schedule Thursday. The Fire are slated to appear in a total of 13 nationally televised broadcasts throughout its 15th season of MLS play. The Fire kick off the 2012 MLS campaign with a visit to the expansion Montreal Impact in the club’s first home match Saturday, March 17 at Olympic Stadium (2:00 PM CT). The Fire’s full schedule can be seen at Chicago-Fire.com/schedule.
The Fire host Opening Day at Toyota Park against the Philadelphia Union on Saturday, March 24 at 7:30 PM CT. Chicago Fire Season Tickets 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.
For more information on the club’s 2012 MLS Regular Season schedule, click here.
MIAMI-BASED MIDFIELDER FABRIZIO PITTALUGA NAMED OPEN TRYOUT WINNER
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced last week Fabrizio Pittaluga as the winner of December’s Open Tryout. The Peruvian-born, Miami, Fla. based midfielder traveled over 1,300 miles and emerged from a group of 160 players to capture the club’s annual Open Tryout. Pittaluga will join the Fire for the first phase of preseason training camp in Ave Maria, Fla. beginning Friday, Jan. 20.
Born in Lima, Peru, the 22-year-old midfielder was one of 160 players, representing 10 different countries, who attended December’s Open Tryout. Pittaluga emigrated to the United States with his family in 1991 and went on to play for Miami Kendall FC in the U.S. Soccer Development Academy from 2007-08. The holder of American, Peruvian and Italian passports, Pittaluga has had training stints with Serie A side Cagliari Calcio’s Primavera squad in 2007 before separate sessions with Peruvian clubs Sport Boys Association (2010) and Universidad Cesarvallejo (2010-11).
FIRE IN THE NEWS
Fire sign Colombian midfielder Robayo – Jack McCarthy – Chicago Tribune – Jan. 9, 2012
Klopas names assistant coaches – Jeremy Lynn – CSNChicago.com – Jan. 6, 2012
Chicago Fire 2012 MLS Regular Season Schedule: It’s Here – Tweed Thornton – Hot Time in Old Town – January 5, 2012
Midfielder Pittaluga wins tryout spot for Fire camp – Tina Akouris – Chicago Sun-Times – Jan. 4, 2012
CHICAGO FIRE TEAM WRITER, JEFF CRANDALL FEATURES ON CHICAGO-FIRE.COM
Frank’s Fixtures; Klopas talks 2012 MLS Schedule – Jan. 5, 2012
Skype with Dan Gargan – Jan. 4, 2012
Fabrizio’s Road – Jan. 4, 2012
FOLLOW THE CHICAGO FIRE 24/7 VIA SOCIAL MEDIA