Fire Selects Record Ten at Today's MLS SuperDraft

January 16, 2004 - Major League Soccer (MLS) - Chicago Fire News Release

CHICAGO, IL (Friday, January 16, 2004) - The Chicago Fire established a new record, selecting ten players - the most of any MLS team -- during the 2004 MLS SuperDraft, held earlier today at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, NC. Just prior to the draft, the Fire traded its first round selection (9th overall) to the New England Revolution to complete the transaction that sent former Fire midfielder Peter Nowak to the Revolution last January. In exchange, the Fire received the Revolution's second round selection (18th overall). However, the Fire then got back the 9th overall selection back from the Revs in exchange for a player allocation attributable to Nowak's retirement.

"Overall we feel we had a well-balanced draft positionally," said Fire Head Coach Dave Sarachan. "Buete, Griffin, Ibrahim - we shouldn't discount any of our picks - we feel there's quality there. This being a difficult year with (World Cup) qualifying and the Olympics, we felt depth was important, and competition for positions is always important. Overall we were quite pleased with what we ended up with compared to what we had hoped for."

The Fire selected University of Maryland midfielder Scott Buete (pronounced BYOOT) as its first round selection (9th overall). The 23-year-old, Maryland native joins Chicago after performing as one of Maryland's top midfielders, being named to the All-ACC First Team in 2003, as well as the ACC All-Tournament Team. The hustle player tallied 24 assists with the Terps, tallying the second-most assists (8) on the team in 2002. He is tied for fourth on Maryland's career assists list with 21. He was a finalist in 1998 on the U.S. Under-18 National Team.

"I had no idea, I was very surprised," said Buete. "I didn't expect to be picked this high up, but it feels great. Obviously, Chicago's one of the top teams in the league, with a lot of talented players. I think that the four and a half years that I played at Maryland helped me gain a great deal of experience and confidence. I'm prepared to join the Fire and I look forward to joining the team soon."

The Fire was kept busy in the second round, as the team made three selections and executed a pair of trades. Its 11th overall pick, defender Leonard Griffin, helped UCLA win the 2002 College Cup Championship and led the Bruins' defense to a school record-tying 0.52 GAA in 2003. The Fire then traded its next two picks, sending its 14th pick to Los Angeles for the Galaxy's lowest of three, first round picks in 2005, and its 18th pick to the MetroStars in exchange for a second round pick next year.

Chicago had two more picks in the round, selecting Southwest Missouri State University goalkeeper and former Chicago Fire Reserves player Matt Pickens as its 19th overall pick and University of Maryland standout midfielder - and 2003 M.A. C. Hermann Trophy candidate - Sumed Ibrahim (20th overall), whose 26 assists put him at third on the all-time list at Maryland. A native of Tamale, Ghana, the 23-year-old will not be considered a senior international but instead qualifies as a transitional international until he turns 25.

The team made only one selection in the third round, drafting Khari Stephenson of Williams College (28th overall). The 22-year-old midfielder led his team in goals scored (15) and points (34) in 2003. The Kingston, Jamaica native finished his college career with 40 goals and 18 assists for a total of 98 points. Like Sumed, Stephenson will be considered a transitional international.

"We feel good about the players we got in a draft that many people considered a weaker year," said Fire GM Peter Wilt. "We had our eyes on Scott [Buete] and Leo [Griffin] all week and we were hopeful that somehow we would be able to acquire both of those players. A number of the players in the second half of the draft we feel can compete for a spot either on the full or developmental rosters. We are a better team than we were yesterday."

In the fourth round, the Fire drafted University of Dayton defender Denny Clanton (also former Fire Reserves player) and midfielder/forward Phil Hucles (College of William and Mary) as the 38th and 39th selections, respectively. Clanton, a native of Aurora, IL was named the All-Ohio Player of the Year, while helping the Fire Reserves to the PDL Central Conference Championship.

The Fire's last three selections were made in the fifth and sixth rounds, as the team drafted Cornell University midfielder Ian Pilarski, a two time All-Ivy League selection, as its 49th overall pick. Pilarski was a tri-captain on the team his senior year in 2003, when he also recorded a team-high four assists. Ryan McGowan was the Fire's 51st overall pick. The 22-year-old New Jersey native finished his career at Seton Hall registering eight goals and nine assists for 25 points. The Fire's final selection (59th overall), 23-year-old University of Alabama-Birmingham defender Tony McManus, comes to Chicago having captained the Blazers in 2002 and 2003. In 2002, he anchored a defense that allowed just 1.07 goals per game, which was the second-best in the conference.

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