Fire bolster midfield with Colombian import Robayo

Photo courtesy of Chicago Fire

The Chicago Fire bolstered their midfield with their first international pickup of the offseason on Monday, adding Colombian midfielder Rafael Robayo from Club Deportivo Los Millionarios.

The 27-year-old midfielder joins the Fire from Colombian Liga Postobón and will be added to the club’s roster as an international upon the receipt of his International Transfer Certificate (ITC) and P1 Visa. Per league and team policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Rafael Robayo has an excellent work rate, good defensive energy and will provide support on both sides of the ball,” Fire head coach Frank Klopas said in a statement. “Rafael is a sizable player who can get in and create around the box. He will join our core group in preseason camp as we continue to build toward the 2012 campaign.”

A mainstay in the Millionarios lineup, Robayo tallied 187 appearances and 20 goals in league play since joining the Bogota-based side in 2005. The box-to-box midfielder made 11 appearances and scored two goals, including one in the championship series during los Embajadores’ run to the 2011 Copa Colombia title, the club’s first hardware since 1988.

Additionally, Robayo helped the side to the semifinals of the 2007 Copa Sudamericana, the best finish in club history. Robayo served as club captain since early 2010.

Robayo began his career at the age of 16, attending the Escuela de Futbol Vida in Bogota from 2000-02. From there, he signed his first professional contract with Medellín-based Club Atlético Nacional where he made one appearance in 2003 before spending the 2004 season with Once Caldas.

He has earned one cap for the Colombian men’s national team, coming on as a substitute during a 2-0 victory at Venezuela on Sept. 3, 2010.