This Day in Fire History – March 28, 2005...
Coming off of what should be deemed one of the most successful MLS SuperDrafts in club history, seven years ago today the Chicago Fire signed third round selections Chris Rolfe (pictured right) and Gonzalo Segares to Developmental contracts.
“I’ll always remember being drafted and when I signed my first contract,” Segares told Chicago-Fire.com. “My dream was to become a professional player. The Fire gave me an opportunity and this is where I’ve grown into who I am today.”
It’s always interesting to look back on a team’s yearly draft class and in this case that’s because the pair that has gone on to 325 combined competitive appearances for the club were the team’s fourth and fifth overall selections behind forward Chad Barrett (3rd overall; R1), Jack Stewart (10th overall R1) and Will John (18th overall; R2).
“I think it’s very special. I’ll always remember the group of guys that came in that year. Dave [Sarachan] and Denis [Hamlett] did a great job of recruiting and lucky for us they gave us the opportunity to come to a great organization. Coming into camp, I think we were all pretty excited to work hard and earn ourselves a spot.”
While John and Stewart wouldn’t make a huge impact for the Fire, Barrett did play a bigger role, appearing in 82 matches and scoring 18 goals, good enough for 12th on the club’s all-time scoring list. Barrett would also go on to be the trade bait that helped bring Chicago-native Brian McBride from Toronto FC to the Fire to allow the U.S. legend to round out his career at Toyota Park.
Looking past that trio, its Rolfe (29th overall; R3) and Segares (35th overall; R3) that truly went on to make a mark in Chicago.
With both starting off on low-wage developmental contracts in 2005, Rolfe would go on to lead the team in scoring with eight goals and set the club’s rookie record for MLS appearances with 29. The product of Dayton, Ohio would tally 36 goals, etching his name into second all-time on the club’s regular season scoring list before heading to Danish side Alborg BK following the 2009 season.
“Chris is a great player with great ability,” said Segares (pictured below) reminiscing on his former teammate. “He was fantastic here for us and I think he’s done really well in Denmark. I read that he’s coming to the end of his contract and I’m sure there’s going to be a lot of options for him. Big clubs in Denmark have shown interest and I can see him moving into bigger and better things.”
Along with the other milestones, Rolfe sits 11th on the club’s all-time MLS appearance list with 123 games played, exactly 26 behind Segares who stands one spot in front of him.
Now in his eighth season with the club, the fiery Costa Rican international had a similarly impressive rookie campaign, appearing in 21 matches with three goals and two assists to his name. His ability to get forward down the left flank has produced eight goals and 12 assists, placing him second all-time in offensive production among Fire defenders behind Lubos Kubik.
Save a six month stint with Cypriot club Apollon in 2010, Segares has made the left back spot his own since that rookie season. If his form holds, he should easily usurp Jim Curtin (151), Ante Razov (155) and Diego Gutierrez (157) by season’s end and with an appearance Sunday at Colorado, he’ll hit the career milestone of 150 games played for the side that selected him way back in 2005.
Asked if he thought he’d still be in Chicago way back in 2005, Segares chuckled and said, “It’s hard to say. I think its always nice when you stay as long as you can in the club you started with. Of course I had the opportunity to play in Europe, but I was really happy the Fire gave me the opportunity to come back. I couldn’t imagine myself being part of another team in MLS.”