The Chicago Fire drafted former Loyola men’s soccer player Elliot Collier with the 49th pick in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft Jan. 21.
Collier scored 15 goals for the Ramblers in his 2014-17 career. Scoring four goals during his first year on the team, he earned a spot on the Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) all-freshman team. Over his tenure with Loyola, he also earned second team All-MVC awards in 2014 and 2015, a first team All-MVC accolade in 2016 and a first-team All-West region award in 2016.
Loyola men’s soccer head coach Neil Jones said he’s happy for Collier and excited for what his drafting means for the program.
“It’s very exciting for him, for our program, for us as a staff and for me personally being from New Zealand and taking a chance on a young New Zealand player five years ago,” Jones said. “To see him come through our system and develop as a player and a person and now have a chance at the big leagues is exciting for all of us. It says that we can develop good players into great players.”
Collier isn’t guaranteed a spot on the Fire’s first-team and may get sent to the team’s developmental team. Jones said he isn’t sure how the Fire will evaluate Collier’s abilities but he knows Collier can work hard enough to make it.
“He could very well end up at [the developmental team], but he gets to prove himself in training camp with the first team and hopefully beyond,” Jones said.
“There’s a chance he could earn a first team contract, so that’s exciting. I do think that he’s got the work ethic and the attitude and the desire that you need to play at the pro level. Ultimately it will come down to whether the coaches think he’s good enough.”
Collier is the first player in Loyola’s program history to be selected in the MLS SuperDraft. The SuperDraft is the MLS’ only draft, which started in 2000 and combined the league’s college draft with its supplemental draft.
Loyola has one other former player who reached the highest level of American professional soccer, Eric Gehrig. Gehrig played for the Ramblers from 2006-09, helping lead the team to two Horizon League championships and two NCAA tournament berths. He also earned three first team All-Horizon League honors in his career.
In 2011, Gehrig was signed by the Columbus Crew as a free agent where he spent three seasons before being traded to the Chicago Fire. Gehrig retired from the Fire in 2017 and was immediately hired by the team as an assistant coach.
Jones is comforted by the fact that a former Rambler will be there to help Collier learn the ropes and watch out for him.
“[Gehrig] is a great guy, he’s going to look out for [Collier]. They’re both Ramblers,” Jones said. “They have a unique connection, they know each other already, he’s come and trained with us. I know [Gehrig] will look after him and give him some pointers.”
Collier will graduate in May and is excited but nervous and anxious about starting his professional career, according to Jones.
Collier is on the Fire’s training camp roster. He will have a chance to earn a spot on the first team in training camp Jan. 23-26.