The Chicago Fire's open tryouts typically do not bring in a first-team player, but Mount Prospect's Paraskevas "Pari" Pantazopoulos is an exception to the rule.
The Fire announced Monday that Pantazopoulos, who topped the 210-player pool to win the 2011 open tryout in January, has signed with the club.
"Playing professional soccer has always been a dream of mine," Pantazopoulos said. "I moved to Chicago in 1998 and grew up idolizing Fire players like [Ante] Razov, [Peter] Nowak and [Frank] Klopas, and now I'm part of this team. I'm thankful to the Fire organization for this unbelievable opportunity."
The 6-foot, 22-year-old midfielder was born in Athens, Greece, starting his soccer career with Vrilissia Academy as a youth before his family moved to Mount Prospect. Pantazopoulos then played for Green and White (1998 to 2002) and the Chicago Magic (2002 to 2007). He joined Asyl Lisis in Cyprus in 2007, then returned to Greece to play for Zakynthos from 2008 to 2010.
"Pari worked tirelessly to earn his spot," Fire technical director Frank Klopas said. "His undeniable charisma and passion for this game, coupled with his experiences in Greece and Cyprus, were defining factors in us signing Pari."