March 25, 2010

FORMER RAM DYKSTRA EARNS STARTING NOD FOR CHICAGO FIRE’S OPENER SATURDAY ON ESPN

CHICAGO, Ill. – In the mid-late 90s, SportsCenter hosts Keith Olberman and Dan Patrick would open the show with a catch of "Welcome to the Big Show."

That's kinda how Monday felt for former Virginia Commonwealth University men's soccer standout Andrew Dykstra as he learned he would be the starting goalkeeper for the Chicago Fire in the season opener against New York Red Bulls, Saturday night on ESPN.

"It was just a big shock, that's the only word for it," Dykstra said. "I know these opportunities are very rare for young keepers. It usually takes a few years to break into a starting role, so I'm very excited right now and ready to help my team in any way possible."

Dykstra is the true testament to what hard work and dedication can do for someone as he arrived in training camp in February of 2009 knowing that a spot on the Fire roster would be unlikely. However, at the end of camp, the team decided that they liked his potential and kept him on as the third-string keeper.

A couple months later he was promoted to number two and his hard work finally paid off on Monday when first-year Fire head coach Carlos de los Cobos called him into the office and told him he would be the starter.

"It's a tough situation, but I really owe a lot to Jon Busch, our former keeper," Dykstra said. "He was my mentor. That's how I viewed him. He taught me how to be a professional, things like the day-to-day business that makes somebody good, and I used his example to get to where I am now."

For the Black & Gold, Dykstra was a four-year starter from 2005-08. He played in 73 matches and over 6500 minutes between the posts. He earned All-CAA honors twice and finished his illustrious career with 18 career shutouts.

Dykstra and his Chicago Fire teammates take on the New York Red Bulls live on ESPN and ESPN Deportes, Saturday evening at 7 p.m.