It took until the fourth round, but the 2019 MLS SuperDraft finally became relevant in Pennsylvania on Monday when Douglassville, Pa. native Mark Forrest received a phone call informing him that he had been drafted by the Chicago Fire.
The Lehigh University standout over the last four seasons who starred at The Hill School in Pottstown and for Lehigh Valley United in his high school days was drafted with the 77th pick overall by the Fire on Monday afternoon. Forrest’s ties to the region include the time he spent time back with LVU playing for the club’s USL League Two (formerly PDL) squad in 2017 and with their division rivals Reading United last summer.
“I’m thrilled about it obviously and understand that this is where the hard work starts,” Forrest said on Monday. “I’m excited for what the future brings and I’m massively grateful to Chicago Fire and all my coaches and teammates.”
The England-born forward, who moved with his family to Berks County when he was five, finished his career at Lehigh as the second all-time leading scorer with 41 goals and 21 assists and was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row. He was named a third-team All-America in 2017 after finishing third in the nation in D1 scoring with 15 goals.
“I’m really happy for Mark and proud of all of his accomplishments as a student-athlete in our program,” Lehigh head coach Dean Koski said in a news release. ”Getting drafted by the Chicago Fire is a capstone to his high school, club and college career and the beginning of a new chapter in his professional career. I have no doubt that if Mark sets his mind to making it to the first team, he will eventually get there.”
Forrest is the fifth player from Lehigh to be selected in the MLS draft and the second to be drafted by the Fire. Adam Welch was drafted by the New England Revolution with the 57th pick in 2010, Adam Williamson by the Revolution with the 35th pick in 2006, Kevin Jackson with the 68th overall pick in 2000 by the Fire and Andrew Mittendorf was the eighth overall pick by the Columbus Crew in 1999.
After trading away four picks in the first two rounds for $150,000 in allocation money and Herbers from the Philadelphia Union, the Chicago Fire drafted defenders Ebenezor Ackon from Bowling Green and Grant Stoneman from Loyola Chicago in the third round on Monday before selecting Forrest, who at 6-foot-3 has the frame to play with his back to goal but also displayed playmaking prowess during his time leading the Mountain Hawks attack.
The Fire currently have 18 of 30 roster spots filled. Nemanja Nikolić is the lone target forward on the roster and three additional players listed as forwards on the roster: Elliot Collier, Fabian Herbers and Diego Campos. Seven players on the current roster are former SuperDraft picks.