The Fire selected 7th and 28th in today's annual MLS "SuperDraft" and came away with two additions that have been been playing relatively close to what could be their professional home. Matt Polster is a 6'-0" defender from Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville who made three appearances with the Fire PDL squad last year. The second pick, Kinglsey Bryce is an attacker with some size (6'0", 185) who played at Saint Louis University.
The selection of Polster with the seventh pick overall surprised some observers but Frank Yallop said they had him ranked second on their board of players that they felt would be available. "I had him very high," said Yallop. "We had him second on our list of possible guys to take. Once the other fellow was gone, and it's all really on speculation, you've got to know what's going to go in the 1-2-3 slot and then reality sets in. The one in front of Matt went pretty early and that was my next choice."
When asked if the Fire drafted for need, best available, or both, Yallop indicated that several factors weighed into the selection. According to Yallop, many of the coaches at the combine liked Polster but he also fills a need for depth at centerback. "I felt that Matt Polster was a very athletic, good on the ball, clean, and simple player. He looked like an MLS guy. We scouted him this season and liked what we saw. I thought he stood out definitely in the combine," said Yallop. "He's got some versatility. I see him as a centerback that can play central midfield and play outside back too. Right now I'm looking at him as a central defender."
The fact that both players played close to Chicago may have helped them both with Technical Director Brian Bliss getting good looks at them over the last few seasons while in Chicago and Columbus. Bryce in particular may have been helped by his proximity. "St Louis is pretty close to us. Our scouts had seen him quite a bit and I thought he had a strong combine. He plays the wide right position that we're kind of a little bit slight in with not bringing Grant Ward back," Yallop explained. "You tend to scout closer to your home because it's not a big, big journey. Brian (Bliss) has seen a lot of the player over the years so in talking and discussing it with everybody we felt he's got a chance."
Polster's selection was helped by the Fire's familiarity with the player and his performance at the MLS Combine against the best of his peers available this year. "My scouts have seen more of Matt than I have," said Yallop. "I've been pretty busy since the end of the season getting after our main signings so that was my job to do that."
Whether or not either player can help the Fire in 2015 will be determined by their performances at the next level in training camp and Yallop says he'll give them a shot to compete. "Every coach will tell you the same. What you see and what you get are sometimes different and sometimes they work hand in hand and what you see you get. Hopefully both of these kids really work out and can be with Chicago for as long as we can keep them. We feel pretty confident that both guys are capable of doing well. It's up to them, in their mindset and the way they go about it themselves but the signs are good so far. We haven't seen them in training yet but I'm looking forward to working with both kids."
The third and fourth rounds of the Draft will be completed next Tuesday via conference call. The Fire have one selection at number 68.