After seven years away pursuing a soccer career, Naperville native Brendan King is coming home.
The Chicago Fire announced Thursday it signed the 22-year-old midfielder, ending his stay in Europe that included stops in Ireland and Norway.
When the Fire contacted him, coming home was "a no-brainer. I had to go home to my hometown team," King said by telephone from Norway, where he appeared in seven matches for Division I side Alta IF in 2012.
King played two years of high school soccer at Benet Academy in Lisle before leaving to train in Florida with the U.S. U-17 national team. After playing at Notre Dame, he was drafted in the second round of the 2012 MLS SuperDraft by the Portland Timbers, "but for whatever reason it wasn't going to work out for me."
Instead King went to Europe, and he said he became a better player for his brief stay abroad, improving mentally and physically.
"I'm thankful for the time I've had over here," King said.
That time ends Friday morning, when he boards a plane to Chicago. King -- who grew up a Fire fan watching the team play at Soldier Field and North Central College and has played for the Fire's Premier Development League team -- will spend just one night here before heading to California with the Fire on Saturday for the second phase of preseason training.
"Brendan is a local product that we have watched over the years," Fire president of soccer operations Javier Leon said in a team statement. "He is a talented, versatile player and it speaks highly of our player development system that we are able to add him to the first-team roster."
King is a right-footed player who prefers the left side but is versatile enough to play anywhere across the midfield, and after losing Marco Pappa and Alvaro Fernandez the past few months, the Fire has a need for outside midfielders.
He describes himself as a technically sound player who works hard and likes to run at players.