The Chicago Fire took another step in their rebuilding process Tuesday, signing midfielder John Thorrington to a multiyear contract. Thorrington, a U.S. international who was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, most recently played with Grimsby Town of England's third division.
"We are very excited to have John join us in Chicago," said Fire head coach Dave Sarachan. "I have known and kept an eye on John for several years when I have traveled overseas, and I feel that he'll be a tremendous addition to not only our team as a right sided player, but to our league as well. I have no doubt that he will make a great contribution to our club."
Thorrington, 25, began his professional career with Manchester United in 1997, but he was unable to break out of the English giant's reserve team and moved to Bayer Leverkusen of the German Bundesliga in 1999. At Leverkusen, Thorrington played alongside former San Jose Earthquakes star Landon Donovan on the reserve squad, but again was unable to crack the first team lineup.
Thorrington finally got a shot at first team soccer with English club Huddersfield Town. After joining the Terriers in January 2001, Thorrington followed the club down from England's second division to the fourth tier over the course of three calendar years.
After making 74 appearances and scoring eight goals in all competitions with Huddersfield, Thorrington found his chances to start limited in the first half of the 2003-2004 season due to injuries and a formation switch. Manager Peter Jackson told the club's official website in March 2004 that though Thorrington was "an excellent servant to the club" and "a consummate professional," it was only fair to allow him to move to a club where he would find more opportunities.
Thorrington then moved to Grimsby Town, who were in the midst of a relegation battle in the third division. After making only three appearances for the Mariners, Thorrington was released at the end of the 2004 season as the club went down to England's fourth level.
Since finishing last season with Grimsby, Thorrington has been a man without a team, but the California native spent part of this past summer training with the Los Angeles Galaxy to stay fit. Thorrington has one international cap to his name, having played 19 minutes in a 0-0 draw against Ecuador on June 7, 2001, in Columbus, Ohio. Thorrington also made four appearances for the U.S. under-23 team in 2000 and scored one goal in nine games for the U.S. under-20 team in 1999.
"John is a talented young player who's had some tough breaks along the way," said Fire general manager Peter Wilt. "We are confident that he will make the most of this new opportunity in Chicago."
Jason Halpin is a contributor to MLSnet.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Soccer or its clubs.