FRISCO, Texas — If everything goes to plan, Dallas draftee Charlie Campbell could be suiting up against some old friends — and the team he supported growing up — when FCD open their season on March 19 at Pizza Hut Park.
A native of Illinois, Campbell said he grew up rooting for FCD’s Brimstone Cup rivals, the Chicago Fire, and calls Fire standouts Patrick Nyarko and Baggio Husidic good friends. But now that he's on the books with Dallas — who face the Fire during First Kick weekend — he obviously backs his new club.
“I support my friends and grew up watching the Fire," he said. "I played club with [former Fire assistant] Dave Sarachan’s son, Ian. When Dave was the coach, we used to go to training up in Lake Forest with the Fire. We’d hang around the locker room with those guys. It was fun to follow the Fire growing up, but now I’m an FC Dallas fan.”
One big part of his pre-draft preparation was working out with a number of current professional players back in his native Chicago. He said that those sessions helped him transition to the MLS game.
“Playing with them, I know I have a better feeling of the speed of play and the standard that players demand once you get to the professional level,” Campbell said. “I hope that will help my transition, playing with these MLS players all winter break from various clubs.”
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Despite his Windy City connections, Campbell is still coming to a team where he knows at least one of his new teammates.
“I grew up playing against Eric Alexander and then we played on the ’88 Regional ODP team,” he said. “We traveled to Italy together. Playing in the ACC, I remember playing against [Zach] Loyd and a couple of the other guys."
As a senior at Louisville, the 5-foot-10 Campbell had six goals and two assists in 20 games for the Redbirds, who advanced to the NCAA College Cup Final. Prior to that, Campbell spent three years at Virginia Tech. As a sophomore he was part of a Hokie team that advanced to the College Cup for the first time in school history.
“He’s coming out of a good program and can play that right back position or he can play that right midfield position,” Dallas technical director Barry Gorman said. “I know the coach well at Louisville, so I know he’s had some very good coaching there.”
Campbell knows that incredible versatility that has seen him play in every outfield position except for center back was a big reason why FCD took him in the second round.
“I have a blue-collar work ethic," he said. "I like to go forward and I have an attacking mind but I’ve always been taught to hone my defensive skills. So, I think I fit well at an outside back but also think I can play right mid.”
Campbell doesn’t turn 23 until Jan. 15, but the midfielder said he feels like he got an early present when FC Dallas took him with the 35th overall pick in Thursday's SuperDraft.
“I'm pretty elated right now," Campbell told MLSsoccer.com. "It’s a fantastic honor to be drafted, especially by a club the caliber of FC Dallas with the success they’ve had over the years and most recently. It’s a great honor and I couldn’t be happier.”