The Chicago Fire have included all the MLS terminology in the club's draft day trades.
After dealing top pick Jack Harrison for No. 4 pick Brandon Vincent and general allocation money, the Fire dealt a player to be named later to Seattle for the No. 15 pick and more allocation money. The Fire then flipped that No. 15 pick, the No. 33 pick and the top spot in the league’s player allocation order, used for incoming U.S. national teamers and former MLS players returning from foreign leagues, to Colorado for the No. 12 and 22 picks and the second spot in the player allocation order.
Colorado likely had a player in mind by trading up, and the Fire may not have been interested or been able to acquire that player. In essence, the Fire were able to move up a bit in the draft without giving up an asset they were going to be able to cash in on. Once Colorado takes a player from the allocation order, the Fire will move back up to the No. 1 spot.
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At No. 12, the Fire drafted North Carolina defender Jonathan Campbell. Campbell is a 6-foot-2, 188-pound center back who was the first UNC player to earn both first team All-American and Academic All-American honors in the same season this fall. He spent this past summer playing with the Seattle Sounders U-23 PDL squad.
With all the moves Campbell admitted on a conference call with media that he didn’t know where he was going to be drafted. Even as his agent was texting him updates, Campbell didn’t see them because he had his phone on silent. He had talked to coach Veljko Paunovic and general manager Nelson Rodriguez in advance of the draft.
“We had a good talk at the combine,” Campbell said. “We talked a lot about player development. We also talked about some situational things, but I thought the player development talk was good. He talked to me briefly about setting up individual plans for the players to see them grow, but then also in broader terms.”
On the live draft stream Matt Doyle of MLSsoccer.com said Campbell struggled during the MLS Combine, but had proven enough throughout the college season to warrant a spot in the first round. He played as part of a three-man back line for the Tar Heels, which Campbell said helped improve his versatility.
“I think they drafted me as a center back, but it does show that I can be a versatile player,” Campbell said. “We played three in the back. I played on the outside of that, in the middle of that. I think that kind of speaks to my athletic ability that I’m not just a big guy in the middle and I can’t really move. For me I think it will help. It always helps to be versatile.”
Campbell was the third UNC player taken in the first round, following Omar Holness (No. 5 to Real Salt Lake) and Jordan McCrary (No. 10 to New England). The Fire previously drafted UNC players Logan Pause and Jalil Anibaba.
At No. 22, the Fire took North Florida midfielder Alex Morrell. Morrell has a smaller build at 5-foot-7, 135 pounds, but is noted for his speed. He picked up Atlantic Sun First Team All-Conference honors this season. He had four goals and seven assists in 18 games this fall and finished his career with eight goals and 19 assists.