Fire releases Prospect's Pantazopoulos

 
 
Posted3/11/2012 4:41 PM
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  • The Chicago Fire released defender Pari Pantazopoulos on Sunday. The former Prospect High School star made the team last season after winning an open tryout.

    The Chicago Fire released defender Pari Pantazopoulos on Sunday. The former Prospect High School star made the team last season after winning an open tryout. George LeClaire | Staff Photographer

Pari Pantazopoulos' storybook run is over.

The Fire announced Sunday it released the Mount Prospect resident, the decision coming a little more than a year after he won the club's open tryout against more than 200 players and then surprised everyone by winning a first-team roster spot.

"It's a shocking thing," Pantazopoulos said of his release. "It's kind of hard to think about it. It's shocking.

"It was fun. Obviously, it's every kid's dream, hometown, getting to play for a team I rooted for, grew up watching."

Pantazopoulos, 23, backed up veteran left fullback Gonzalo Segares in 2011, playing in a U.S. Open Cup match and getting a couple of minutes on the field in July's friendly against Manchester United at Soldier Field.

The Fire, however, drafted defender Hunter Jumper out of Virginia in the second round of January's SuperDraft, and Pantazopoulos saw little action during the preseason.

Pantazopoulos got the news Friday when he was called into coach Frank Klopas' office.

"He just told me you did everything by yourself. He said it was just really, really hard for them to release me," Pantazopoulos said.

Known for his positive attitude and work ethic, Pantazopoulos said he made one last trek to Toyota Park on Sunday to clean out his locker and wish his ex-teammates well.

"When I came in today to clean out everything, it was tough," he said.

He said he hopes to stay in the United States, catching on with a team in the USL or NASL with the hope of working his way back to MLS.

"You gotta move on, taking things in a positive way. Gotta stay motivated and humble," Pantazopoulos said.

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