CHICAGO (Dec. 9, 2014) – The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Monday that the club has acquired midfielder Michael Stephens from Norwegian Tippeligaen side Stabæk. Stephens will be added to the Fire’s roster for 2015 upon receipt of his International Transfer Certificate. Per MLS and team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“Michael is an experienced player with four valuable seasons as a professional under his belt,” said Fire Head Coach and Director of Soccer Frank Yallop. “He’s a local product who is familiar with MLS and we’re glad to have him join our team.”
Stephens joins the Men in Red after spending the 2014 season in Norway with Stabæk. Stephens made 30 appearances, tallied seven assists, and scored his lone Tippeligaen goal against Molde FK on Aug. 10. The 25-year-old also appeared in four NM Cupen matches.
“It’s very exciting,” said Stephens. “I’ve been a fan of the club for a long time -- since the inaugural season I’ve been following the team. To get this opportunity is something I didn’t think I could pass up. I had a good experience playing with the Fire PDL team, I have connections to the club and to the area so it seemed like a really good opportunity for me.”
The Naperville, Ill. native was selected in the first round (16th overall) by the LA Galaxy in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft after a standout four-year collegiate career at UCLA, where he started 78 of 81 appearances, helping the Bruins to four NCAA tournament appearances, earning 2009 Pac-10 Player of the Year honors.
Stephens, who made his professional debut on March 27, 2010, scored one goal in 25 matches and led all MLS rookies with eight assists. His eight assists were the most by a Galaxy rookie since current Fire assistant coach Clint Mathis’ ten assists in 1998.
In four seasons with the Galaxy, Stephens made 94 appearances, scoring two goals and tallying 12 assists in MLS play. Stephens also scored two goals in 17 CONCACAF Champions League matches and appeared in four Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches during his time in Los Angeles.
Stephens was part of the Galaxy’s back-to-back MLS Cup championship teams in 2011 and 2012, making six postseason appearances and playing 14 minutes in the Galaxy’s 3-1 victory over the Houston Dynamo in MLS Cup 2012.
A Fire PDL product, Stephens provided the opening assist in the Fire’s 2-1 victory over the Toronto Lynx in the 2008 Super-20 North American Finals.
A member of the U.S. Soccer U-17 Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla., Stephens was selected for the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup and the 2007 Pan American Games.
Date of Birth:
April 3, 1989
Signed on Dec. 8, 2014