The Fire have added the fourth Homegrown Player in team history with the signing of Northwestern midfielder Chris Ritter. Recently ranked as the 10th best college player in the nation, Ritter has been described as an excellent defender who is often tasked with marking the opposition's best player. He's also dangerous on the other end scoring five goals to go along with five assists in 19 games in 2013. At 6-2, 190 Ritter adds some size and could eventually help set piece defending and scoring, an area which was lacking last season. Ritter ended his collegiate career with 14 goals and 13 assists over 84 appearances and is currently ranked as the 76th best collegiate player by Top Drawer Soccer.
A natural holding midfielder, Ritter had an opportunity to sign a Homegrown deal with the Fire after his Junior year at Northwestern after discussions with Frank Klopas and Mike Matkovich but he decided to stay in school and attain his degree. At 23 years old, he has spent time with the Academy and has had an opportunity to train with the first team so he's familiar with the club. There has been some speculation that he could eventually play at center back due to his size and ability in the air but he told reporters this morning that he hasn't played the position at a high level although he doesn't feel the transition is a difficult one.
Ritter was the 2012 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year.
This signing means the Fire will have added two highly regarded college players this offseason without having to expend a draft choice. The Homegrown rule may finally begin to pay some dividends for the Fire in 2014.