Cal men’s soccer defender Josh Morton drafted by Chicago Fire

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Aditi Raghunath/File

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After an impressive four years at Cal, Josh Morton was selected in the fourth round of the MLS SuperDraft this weekend by the Chicago Fire. The defender from Brentwood, California, was the 84th overall selection.

“Josh had a great four year career at Cal and he has been rewarded for it by his selection in the MLS Superdraft,” said head coach Kevin Grimes in a press release. “He follows a long list of Cal players that have moved on to the MLS. The Chicago Fire will be happy with his continued progress and development over the next few years.”

In Morton, the Fire will gain a defender who has been a model of consistency throughout his time with the Bears. He started in 63 of his 65 career collegiate games and played a total of 1463 minutes in his senior season alone. After a particularly impressive performance in his final season, Morton earned All-Pac 12 Honorable Mention.

Morton is no stranger to the MLS scene, having come up with the San Jose Earthquakes Academy system for three years during high school.

There was some speculation that the Earthquakes would sign Morton to a homegrown player contract back in early, but an invitation to the MLS combine in uprooted those rumors.

At the combine, Morton scored a flashy backwards header goal, demonstrating the defender’s versatility on both sides of the ball.

The Bear alumni contingency is gaining some traction in Chicago, where Morton will join fellow Fire defender and former Bear Christian Dean, who was drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2014 after three seasons at Cal. Dean was acquired by the Fire in a trade in 2017 and played in three games before his season was cut short because of an injury.

With Morton’s departure, the Bears will look to rising sophomore Christopher Grey to fill the hole on defense. Grey saw 1199 minutes in his rookie season with Cal, starting in 12 of the 16 games he played. Rising junior Brian O’Hara could also see an increase in playing time next season; he tallied just 44 total minutes in 2017.

The Fire will hold training camp beginning Jan. 28 in Tampa, Florida, and the team will play its first preseason game Feb. 8 against the Philadelphia Union.

The regular season opens March 10, with the Fire taking on Sporting Kansas City at home.

Morton took to Twitter following the draft, saying, “I am beyond honored to be drafted by @ChicagoFire. I am very much looking forward to this opportunity and I cannot wait to get started!!”

Adriana Ghiozzi covers men’s soccer. Contact her at [email protected].

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