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Chicago Fire trades goalkeeper Zach Thornton to Colorado Rapids

March 2, 2007 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Chicago Fire News Release

BRIDGEVIEW, IL (Friday, March 2, 2007) - Chicago Fire Soccer announced today that the club has traded longtime goalkeeper Zach Thornton to the Colorado Rapids in exchange for a conditional selection in the 2008 MLS Supplemental Draft. The trade was approved on Thursday in accordance with the roster and salary compliance deadline for all 13 Major League Soccer clubs.

"Zach Thornton played an integral role in helping the Fire build a winning tradition during the club's first nine years, and the atmosphere here will be different as we carry on without him," said Fire President/CEO John Guppy. "With the changes planned at the goalkeeper position we worked hard to find a suitable fit for Zach during the offseason, and we're glad to see that this process has ended in a situation where he will challenge for first-team minutes. On behalf of the entire organization, I want to thank Zach for his outstanding contributions to the Chicago Fire both on and off the field and wish him great success with Colorado."

Thornton's departure from the Fire marks the end of era for the club, as the 1998 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and five-time MLS All-Star selection (1998-2001, 2003) was counted on as the team's first-choice goalkeeper in eight of his nine seasons in Chicago. Thornton was between the posts when the Fire won its first four domestic titles, beginning with the 1998 MLS Cup and Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup crowns and following that with triumphs in the 2000 and 2003 U.S. Open Cups. The Baltimore native ranks at or near the top in a number of the Fire's career statistical categories, placing first with 19,205 minutes played and second with 215 games played and 212 games started. Thornton possesses overwhelming leads in all of the team's goalkeeping statistics, including wins (109), goals against average (1.24), shutouts (57), and saves (801). Aside from a stint with Portuguese side Benfica during the 2004 season, Thornton was a dependable influence for the "Men in Red" since 1998, starting 215 of the Fire's 275 career regular season contests (78%) and all but two of Chicago's 33 appearances in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

"When the name Zach Thornton comes up, you immediately think of one of the 'Fire Originals'," said Fire Head Coach Dave Sarachan. "Zach has been one of the faces of this franchise and, during my time here as head coach, he has been nothing but a tremendous professional. His records and his longevity in this league speak for themselves, but the timing for us means the next chapter of goalkeeping has been passed. I want to personally thank Zach for his contributions to the Fire. I'm very pleased that he's still going to be a member of Major League Soccer and we wish him all the best."

The 33-year-old Thornton began his career as a back-up with the then-MetroStars during the 1996-97 seasons, playing behind U.S. National Team stalwart Tony Meola, but it was his time in Chicago that led Thornton towards the top of the MLS record books. Thornton comes into the 2007 campaign ranking second in MLS history in wins (111), third in shutouts (57) and fourth in saves (821), minutes in goal (19,672), games played (221) and games started in goal (217). Thornton's MLS Cup Playoff credentials are just as impressive, as his 13 shutouts and 0.95 GAA rank first and fourth in postseason history, respectively, while his 17 wins, 31 games played and started, and 103 saves all ranks second in MLS postseason annals.

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