The Chicago Fire and the San Jose Earthquakes today executed a trade that sent Fire defender/midfielder Kelly Gray to the Earthquakes in exchange for San Jose's natural second round selection in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft.
"Kelly has been an important part of the Chicago Fire on and off the field the last four years, but our depth this year was making it hard for him to get the playing time he needs," said Fire GM Peter Wilt. "This move will give Kelly a better chance to play regularly in MLS and will allow him to return to his hometown.
"The trade will allow us to promote Matt Pickens to the senior roster, Gonzalo Segares to a senior developmental position and opens up a spot on our developmental roster. It is important to me that the Fire is well-stocked on the field and in next year's player draft after I leave the Fire," added Wilt. "This deal helps achieve that, because it gives the Fire its third second round selection and the fourth of the first 24 picks in 2006."
Gray's last appearance for the Fire was on May 31 for the final 52 minutes of the team's 2-1 loss to the MetroStars. The 23-year-old Gray will be leaving the Fire for the Earthquakes, which is currently ranked third in the Western Conference.
"Kelly Gray has been a very good young professional for us over the last four years," said Fire Head Coach Dave Sarachan. "An opportunity came for Kelly that we felt would be a good situation for both him and the team. This move will get Kelly back to his home city and he will be a part of things that will allow him to continue to grow as a professional. I would like to thank Kelly for his efforts and we wish him luck as he moves along in his career."
Gray was selected by Chicago in the first round (5th overall) of the 2002 SuperDraft. In his four years with the Fire, Gray posted six goals in 84 games and started in 20 matches per season for his first three seasons. His six goals tie him for 15th on the Fire's career list, having scored the first goal of the Fire's 2005 season on April 2 at FC Dallas. The San Jose native has proved his versatility on the field time and again, having been slotted in seven different positions - left, central, and right defender, holding midfielder, left and right flank midfielder and forward. Gray also was successful in his three-season career at the University of Portland, where he racked up 32 goals and 12 assists.