Former Duke goalkeeper James Belshaw was selected with the 49th pick in the Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft. The All-American was taken in the third round by the Chicago Fire.
“It’s unbelievable,” Belshaw said. “It’s something that you work for from when you’re a kid. I was shocked, and it took a good while to sink in and process what had happened, but I’m ecstatic and ready to start the next chapter of my life.”
Belshaw was initially projected to be taken in the opening two rounds of the MLS SuperDraft that took place Jan. 17 in Indianapolis, but the Nottingham native’s international status may have been a disadvantage. MLS rules cap the number of international players on each roster, and Belshaw said he thinks that teams were hesitant to take him since he is not a U.S. citizen.
After his name wasn’t called during the MLS SuperDraft, Belshaw had to wait and see if he would be selected in one of the four rounds of the MLS Supplemental Draft.
“It was tense,” Belshaw said. “I’m so thrilled that [Chicago] liked what they saw in me and that they will give me a chance, and at the end of the day whether you’re drafted with the first pick or the last pick, everyone’s in the same boat.”
Prior to the MLS SuperDraft, Belshaw was invited to participate in the 2013 MLS Player Combine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Throughout the course of five days, Belshaw played in three games with his assigned adiZero team and met with coaches and officials from interested MLS clubs on off days. Belshaw’s squad went 2-0-1 to win the MLS Combine title.
“I wanted to go and prove to coaches that I could play at the next level, and I think I did that,” Belshaw said. “I got positive feedback from all the MLS coaches and media that were down there, so I felt that I gave a good account of myself. I’m just glad Chicago liked what they saw in me and invited me to camp.”
Wednesday Belshaw will fly to Florida to meet the team and begin preseason training. There are three preseason camps taking place in Florida, California and South Carolina before the season begins Mar. 3 against the Los Angeles Galaxy. During these camps and exhibition games, Belshaw will fight to earn a contract and an official spot on the roster.
Belshaw left a lasting legacy at Duke. A captain for the Blue Devils for the past two seasons, Belshaw earned All-ACC honors in both seasons and was a 2012 NSCAA All-America selection. In his senior season, Belshaw recorded a career-high eight shutouts in 2012 for the Blue Devils, keeping opponents to a career-low 0.69 goals per game.