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Konopka drafted into MLS by KC – Ocean County Observer
January 19, 2007

Konopka drafted into MLS by KC

Published by the Ocean County Observer on 01/19/07


Former Toms River High School East goalkeeper Chris Konopka yesterday was selected by the Kansas City Wizards of Major League Soccer in the third round with the 29th overall pick of the MLS 2007 Supplemental Draft at MLS Headquarters in New York City.

“It’s a little bit of a relief to be drafted, I guess,” he said. “When it’s all said and done, it comes down to who needs a goalkeeper and luckily they saw something in me that they liked and they picked me up. That’s a good thing.

“I had no clue as to where I was going to go. There was talk that I was not going to be drafted as there are some teams in Europe that are interested in having me play for them. That may have hurt my selection a little bit. I’m just happy to be picked up.”

Konopka said he learned of his selection from his agent, Patrick McCabe of First Wave Sports in Boston.

“I was excited to hear I was chosen,” Konopka said. “He called me at around 3:30 in the afternoon. I looked at my phone, saw it was him and picked it up. He said, “Congratulations, you have been picked by the Kansas City Wizards.’ ”

Konopka becomes the first player in Providence College history to be drafted by a Major League Soccer team. Konopka wore the Friars’ uniform for four years.

He also becomes the only goalkeeper selected by Kansas City in both the 2007 MLS Super and Supplemental Drafts. The former Friar was one of five goalkeepers nationwide who participated in the 2007 Adidas MLS Player Combine at Lockhart Stadium, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., earlier this month. He was rated by several sources as the most consistent among the five in attendance.

“I played pretty well at the combine,” Konopka said. “I was named to the all-combine team.”

Konopka brings a 6-foot-5, 215-pound frame to the net.

“I feel if you are 6-2 or under you are considered small,” he said. “A lot of teams look for a keeper with size. They want a keeper who can control the box, do things in the air and get to the balls that other keepers don’t have the size to get to.

“This should be a good experience for me. Prior to going to the combine, I went overseas and got my feet wet. I will try to fit in with the team and see where I stand.”

Konopka, 21, trained last summer with MLS’ Red Bull New York alongside current Wizards assistant coach Chris Henderson and spent time during 2005 training with two MLS clubs — the New England Revolution and former NY/NJ Metrostars.

In Kansas City, Konopka would join former New Jersey standout Peter Vermes, the Wizards’ current technical director who grew up in Delran before starring at Rutgers University and with the United States Men’s National Team.

Vermes ended his 15-year professional soccer career with Kansas City three years ago.

During his Providence career, Konopka finished third all-time in most games played by a Friar goalkeeper. He allowed only 57 goals for a 1.17 career goals against average, made 199 career saves and had a career save percentage of 77.7 over four years.

He also re-wrote some of the Friars’ record books.

In 2006, Konopka garnered All-Big East Conference second-team honors, becoming only the second goalkeeper in Providence College history to receive all-conference honors. He also set a Friars’ record in 2006, posting seven Big East regular-season conference wins, the most in school history.

He led Providence to 13 overall victories, just one shy of the school’s all-time regular season win total of 14 set in 1984.

A 2003 East graduate, Konopka also became the first goalkeeper in Providence history to appear in consecutive NCAA Division I tournaments (2005 and 2006) and the only keeper in Friar history to lead Providence to three Big East Tournament semifinals (2003, 2005, 2006).

Konopka finished his last two seasons among the top Big East Conference statistical leaders in all categories, posting a goals against average of 0.94 each year.

On the club side, Konopka made 14 appearances for the United States under 19 Regional Team in domestic and international competition in 2003-2004, back-stopping the United States team in France and Belgium against reserve teams from Ajax (Holland), Real Sociedad (Spain), Boavista Porto (Portugal), 1860 Munich (Germany), Osasuna (Spain) and Aalborg (Denmark) among others.

Konopka is the second former East player to be drafted by a Major League Soccer team, joining former Raiders standout Ted Gillen, now the school’s head boys coach.

Gillen was selected by the former Metrostars with the 59th overall pick in the 1996 MLS Inaugural Draft.

A long-time Jersey Shore Boca Soccer Club veteran, Konopka was a member of Boca’s youth system, Super Y-League, Under 20 and Under 23 teams. He was a member of Boca’s Premiere Development League (PDL) team in 2003.

Konopka will receive a computer graphics and design degree from Providence in the spring.