Fire Selects Eight in SuperDraft
KANSAS CITY, MO (Friday, January 17, 2003) - The Chicago Fire selected a team record eight players during the fourth annual Major League Soccer SuperDraft, held earlier today at the Kansas City Convention Center in Kansas City, MO. The Fire selected University of Portland standout Nate Jaqua (pronounced JAY-kwa) as its first-round pick (third overall) -the team's highest pick ever. The Fire acquired the first-round selection via a trade with the Kansas City Wizards in exchange for forward Josh Wolff earlier this month. To view photos of the SuperDraft, please visit www.chicago-fire.com and www.mlsnet.com.
"We're excited to get Nate. I think he brings a certain physical dimension, but he also has good feet for a big man and he's good in the air," said Fire Head Coach Dave Sarachan. "He's not just a big tall guy that is stuck up top. He's mobile for a guy that size. He brings a lot more to the table than some of the other players we thought were available."
Jaqua, 21, joins Chicago as part of the Nike Project-40. A junior at Portland, last season Jaqua led the Pilots in points (27) and goals (10) and tied for first in assists with seven. The Eugene, Oregon native finished his collegiate career among Portland's Top 10 all-time in points and assists. A skillful player, Jaqua has been in the U.S. Under-20 National Team player pool since 2000. He will be joining the Under-23 National Team tomorrow, alongside Fire defender Kelly Gray, for the squad's upcoming tour of Portugal.
"I'm really excited," said Jaqua. "I was really surprised to go this high in the draft. I thought maybe late first round, early second round. It's a surprise but it's great. I've been dreaming about this as long as I can remember. This is a great opportunity for me and I look forward to the challenge."
Damani Ralph, the Fire's second round selection (18th overall), comes to Chicago after spending the last two seasons as one of the top forwards at the University of Connecticut. A native of Kingston, Jamaica, Ralph was named the 2002 BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Year and to the All-Big East Team after notching 18 goals and five assists for 41 points. The 22-year-old striker scored a total of 28 goals and 11 assists in his two seasons with the Huskies.
Chicago made three consecutive selections in the third round, adding University of North Carolina defender/midfielder Logan Pause, Indiana University midfielder Ryan Mack, and Seton Hall forward Phil Swenda as its 24th, 25th, and 26th overall picks.
In the fourth round, Chicago executed a trade with the Dallas Burn, sending its natural fourth round pick in 2004 in exchange for Canadian Olympic team member Rob Friend. The University of California - Santa Barbara product was named a 2002 NSCAA/adidas All-American and was the Big West¹s Co-Offensive Player of the Year. The 21-year-old has recently signed a professional contract with the Moss Football Club of the Norwegian First Division
"It's the deepest draft since I've been at MLS and that helped us get some players we can use," said Fire GM Peter Wilt. "I was pleased to get the forwards in the first and second rounds. Nate and Damani can be special players in MLS. Regarding the other picks, they are players who can give us some depth and have the potential help the Fire last throughout the year. To be able to say that about players you're picking at No. 24, 25, and 26 is an indication of how deep the SuperDraft was."
Chicago's fifth-round pick (44th overall) was University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee defender Chad Dombrowski. The hard-nosed defender earned 2002 Second Team NSCAA All-American and Two-Time First Team All-Great Lakes Region Player honors. The Fire's final pick (54th overall) was UCLA product Ryan Futagaki. The 22-year-old midfielder scored nine points on three goals and three assists and started in 15 of the team's 21 games last season. He was also a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy and was named to the NSCAA All-Far West third team.
Players bios to follow.
2003 Chicago Fire SuperDraft Bios
Name: Nate Jaqua
College: University of Portland (Project 40)
Hometown: Eugene, OR
Born: October 28, 1981
- Named to the 2002 NSCAA All-Far West second team
- Two-time All-West Coast Conference in 2002 and 2001 - 2001 third-team NSCAA All-America
- Member of the under-20 national team pool since 2000
- Father played football for the Washington Redskins from 1970 - 74 and was a member of the Super Bowl team in 1972.
Name: Damani Ralph
College: University of Connecticut
Hometown: Kingston, Jamaica
Born: November 6, 1980
- Named the 2002 Big East Offensive Player of the Year and to the All-Big East First Team
- 2002 M.A.C. Hermann Trophy Finalist - Member of the 2002 UConn/adidas Classic All-Tournament Team and NSCAA/adidas All-New England First Team - 2001 All-BIG EAST Second Team and All-New England Third Team
- MVP of the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA)
Name: Logan Pause
College: University of North Carolina (Project 40)
Hometown: Hillsborough, N.C.
Born: August 22, 1981
- Earned All-ACC honors as a defender in 2002
- Helped lead North Carolina to the 2001 National Championship
- A member of the U.S. U-23 & U-20 National Teams
- Played his first two seasons at midfield, where he started for the Tar Heels
Name: Ryan Mack
College: Indiana University
Hometown: Beverly Hill, MI
Born: November 13, 1979
- One of 15 finalists for the 2002 Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy and preseason All-American.
- 2000 All-American
- Four-time All-Big Ten selection
- Finished career among the top 10 in school history in assists with 34
Name: Phil Swenda Position: Forward
College: Seton Hall University
Hometown: Downingtown, PA
Born: April 22, 1981
- Two-time NSCAA All-Region Selection (2002 First Team, 2001 Second Team)
- Three-time All-BIG EAST Selection (2002 First Team, 2001 Third Team, 1999 All-Rookie)
- Selected to the Region 1 Boys Olympic Development Program Player Pool
- 2002 Seton Hall Tri-Captain finished with 61 Career Points (26 goals, 11 assists)
Name: Robert Friend
College: University of California-Santa Barbara
Hometown: Kelowna, British Columbia
Born: January 23, 1981
- 2002 NSCAA/adidas All-American
- Member of the Canadian Olympic Team, he recently signed a professional contract with the Moss Football Club of the Norwegian First Division
- In 2001, named the Big West¹s Co-Offensive Player of the Year and First Team All-Big West and led the conference in five offensive categories (points, goals, goals per game, shots, and game-winning goals)
- Played on both the national under-20 and under-23 squads and member of Canada¹s under-23 team for the past two seasons
Name: Chad Dombrowski
College: Univ. Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Hometown: West Allis, WI
Born: August 5, 1980
- Fourth on the team with 18 points in 2002 (six goals, six assists)
- Scored 62 points in his four-year career 24 goals, 14 assists
- In 2002, Second Team NSCAA All-American, Two-Time First Team All-Great Lakes Region Player, and Two-Time First Team All-Horizon League Performer
- All-MCC Second Team and All-Newcomer Team in 1999
Name: Ryan Futagaki (Foot-a-GAKI)
Hometown: Fountain Valley, CA
Born: January 17, 1980
- In 2002, finalist for the MAC Hermman Trophy, named to the NSCAA All-Far West third team and Honorable mention All-Pac-10 selection
- 2002 NSCAA All-Far West first team honoree and first-team All-Pac-10 selection for the second consecutive year - In 1999, member of the bronze medal-winning U.S. Pan American Games team where he earned five U-23 caps
- Assisted on a goal in the U.S. U-20's 5-1 victory over Canada in CONCACAF qualifying for the World Youth Championships and also played with the U-16 and U-17 National Teams
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Major League Soccer Stories from January 17, 2003
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