MADISON, Wis. – Wisconsin men’s soccer senior midfielder Drew Conner has been signed as a Homegrown Player by the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer (MLS), the club announced on Thursday.
A native of Cary, Illinois, Conner is a former Fire Academy and Premier Development League (PDL) product. The Fire also signed forward Joey Calistri, making Conner and Calistri the seventh and eighth Homegrown Players in club history.
Per MLS and club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.
“It felt great to get the call,” Conner said. “I remember going to Chicago Fire games as a kid when my dad used to take me. Going through this whole process and coming through their development system has been an honor. I remember when I came on my recruiting trip and Coach Trask talked to me, he promised me that he could get me to the next level. Hats off to the coaching staff here at Wisconsin for developing my game. I’m just really happy that this day has finally come. This is the team I grew up supporting, so it’s just really cool and truly an honor.”
“We’re super excited for Drew,” Wisconsin head coach John Trask said. “I think the Chicago Fire is very fortunate to get Drew. He’s a homegrown product from Chicago, and as I said to their head coach, it’s Drew’s home club. To be a member of the Chicago Fire, his hometown team, now it’s up to him to go and prove it as a professional player. We think we’ve prepared him well and we’re just wishing him all the best. We know that we’ve got fantastic alumni out there speaking well about our program, Drew included.”
The unquestioned leader of the Wisconsin team this past season, Conner was a four-year start for the Badgers and captained the team as a senior. He started all 73 games he played in over the course of his collegiate career and led the team to an NCAA tournament berth in 2013. Recently named to the 2015 Big Ten Men’s Soccer All-Tournament Team, Conner started 17 games this season and finished with five points on one goal and three assists. Conner was a second-team All-Big Ten honoree as a sophomore in 2013 and was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2012.
“We’re very excited to have Drew and Joey with us,” Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic said in the team’s release. “I like their personality on the field and their overall character. They have a great desire to learn, improve and give their best. They share the same values and passion as our community and we can’t wait to start working together. We welcome them to the Chicago Fire family.”
(courtesy Wisconsin Athletic communications)d