The Chicago Fire entered draft day with no second round picks, but traded with Toronto to land two early second round picks.
The Fire sent $75,000 in targeted allocation money to Toronto for the fourth and fifth picks in the second round. The Fire then took Louisville goalkeeper Stefan Cleveland with the 26th overall pick and followed up by taking Guillermo Delgado with the 27th pick.
Cleveland was a college teammate of the Fire's first round pick, Daniel Johnson, at Louisville. The Fire have two goalkeepers under contract in Matt Lampson and recently signed Jorge Bava. Cleveland could be one of the early favorites for the No. 3 goalkeeper spot, although he doesn't have a guaranteed contract and will likely face competition in preseason camp.
"We really like his approach to goalkeeping, his comfort away from the line, his steadiness, there’s an overall maturity to his game that we liked and we really like our goalkeeper corps now," Fire general manager Nelson Rodriguez said. "We think there’s a nice blend of hierarchy, age and experience so we feel very good about how that competition will begin at the start of training camp.”
Delgado, 22, was born in Madrid, but left Spain to play college soccer for Delaware. He quickly stood out with 15 goals and five assists as a freshman. He notched double-digit goals in all four years, including 12 goals and eight assists as a senior. He finished his collegiate career with 49 goals and 19 assists in 78 matches.
"I'm excited and thrilled to give everything I have on the field during the next year," Delgado said on the draft podium.
An extra wrinkle on the Delgado pick is that he would count as an international player for the Fire, as confirmed by the club. That gives the Fire nine international players with only eight international slots for them. That means either Delgado has an uphill climb to make the roster or the Fire have moves coming involving either a trade for an international slot or a move to trade away a current international player.
Soon after the draft Rodriguez was asked if Delgado was worth the pick as another international player.
“We selected him so that’s the answer," Rodriguez said. "What we believe is this is a very good player. A player who is dynamic off the ball, knows how to find space, knows how to exploit it. A proven finisher and has good pedigree. He got his soccer education, if you will, in Spain. Again a player that we believe adds a different element to what we currently have.”