Brandon Vincent got more of the headlines on draft day as the higher pick, but Jonathan Campbell also figures to be a key part of the Chicago Fire’s future.
The center back who the Fire selected 12th overall in the MLS SuperDraft plays a position of need for the club and is the only young option at the position. While his 2016 role may be to learn the ropes of MLS and being a professional athlete in general while only filling in when needed, Campbell represents an important piece of the longer-term future of the club.
“I don’t think you should look at it as pressure,” Campbell said of being a first round draft pick. “I think it’s just nice that we have a good opportunity here. A lot of change here going on so I think some other guys (in the draft) can go somewhere else that maybe they don’t have very high chances of playing. I think it’s very positive here.”
[RELATED - Fire sign MLS veteran midfielder Nick Labrocca]
The 6-foot-2 defender is getting settled into training as the Fire’s preseason began on Monday. The upcoming trips to Tampa and Portland are just two more stops on a busy stretch of travel for Campbell.
The former North Carolina standout endured the busy month of travel for MLS rookies. First, Campbell made the trip to Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., for the MLS Combine. After playing three games in five days, which Campbell described as stressful, he flew to Baltimore for the draft.
“I actually didn’t pack well for the draft weather,” Campbell said. “Obviously going from warm to cold and now I come to Chicago and then we’re going to go to Tampa and Portland. There’s no chance you can pack properly for being in three completely different cities.”
Living out of a suitcase for the time being is the least of Campbell’s worries. He’s been working on preparing himself for his first taste of professional soccer.
“I think the next level just from college to pro comes down to how many plays you can make right versus wrong and just getting that percentage as high as possible,” Campbell said. “That can be in possession or just making the right play defensively. I don’t think guys are going to be that much different athletically. I think you’ll play against some very athletic guys in college, but I think the tactical decisions is the next level.”
[SHOP FIRE: Get your Fire gear right here]
One thing Campbell said he is working on is being more aggressive attacking the ball on offensive corner kicks. He is confident in his ability defensively on corners, but wants to be more of a threat on the attacking end.
As for the team, Campbell believes the Fire need to get off to a fast start to avoid a repeat of 2015.
“As a team, obviously last year was hard for them so I think the main thing is a switch in mentality,” he said. “If you don’t start off on the right foot, I think it can lead to some negative attitudes, but I think we can get off on a good start and that will be very positive for us.”