Chicago Fire Announces 2008 Year – End Awards Recipients

Chicago Fire

2008 Chicago Fire Defender of the Year: Bakary Soumare

Generation adidas player Bakary Soumare appeared in 28 of 30 games this season, missing just two games due to yellow card accumulation suspensions.  Soumare subbed out of just one regular season game in 2008, leaving the field in the 84th minute of the season opener at Real Salt lake on March 29.  He is the only defender to record two blocks, one on Oct. 18 at Toronto and one on Oct. 23 versus New York, through his 2,514 minutes played.  Soumare showed his ability to support the offense as well, as he tallied his first career assist on May 25, in the 5-1 win over the New York Red Bulls.  The University of Virginia product was drafted in the first round (2nd overall) of the 2006 MLS SuperDraft, and in his two seasons with Chicago has played in 47 games.

2008 Chicago Fire Golden Boot: Chris Rolfe

While appearing in 26 of the Fire’s regular season contests, starting 23, the University of Dayton product notched nine goals and seven assists, for a total of 25 points this season. Rolfe recorded his first career hat trick in the regular season finale versus New York, becoming just the fourth Fire player to score three in a match, and the first Fire player to do so in the first half alone.  Three of Rolfe’s goals proved to be game-winners; May 25 at New York in a 5-1 win, May 3 at New England in a 3-0 win, and versus New York in the 5-2 win on Oct. 23, while Rolfe also supplied three game-winning assists.  Rolfe earned Sierra Mist Goal of the Week honors for his game-winner against New England in the 29th minute on May 3, and was named the MLS Player of the Week for Week 31 following his three goal, two assist performance in the last week of MLS play.

2008 USSF Fire Humanitarian of the Year: Diego Gutierrez

The Fire is honored to once again announce Diego Gutierrez as the USSF Fire Humanitarian of the Year.  This past year, Diego has played a very active leadership role serving as a national spokesperson for the Nothing But Nets campaign.  Working together with MLS W.O.R.K.S, the United Nations Foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Fire Works For Kids Foundation, and other local Chicago sports, civic and faith based organizations, Diego has formed his own Nothing But Nets fund raising team to raise money to fight Malaria in Africa.  Gutierrez was honored for his work in the fight against malaria last season with an invitation to attend the White House for a visit with President Bush and the first lady in the Rose Garden.  This season, Gutierrez and Lt. Governor Pat Quinn teamed up to raise awareness and money on the first “World Malaria Day”.

“Team Diego” has developed Public Service Announcements and has helped raise over $400,000 to purchase insecticide-treated bed nets which protect children and adults while they sleep and help reduce the staggering number of deaths each day due to the Malaria outbreak in Africa.  Gutierrez also supports local Chicago organizations such as the SALUTE program of the Rehab Institute of Chicago. SALUTE, Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing awareness and support of issues facing active military personnel, veterans and their families, and to provide financial support through advocacy and fundraising.  Among other involvement, Gutierrez has helped to support to the Foglia YMCA “Kids Need Heroes” program which assisted the YMCA in raising over $275,000 to help offset membership costs and program fees for those less fortunate.  Additionally, through the Lake County YMCA’s and the Boys and Girls Club of America’s “Dare to Dream” programs, Diego represents the Fire and serves as a motivational speaker. Gutierrez received the Fire’s 2006 and 2007 Humanitarian of the Year awards as well.