The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced on Wednesday that they have signed Indiana defender Grant Lillard to a Homegrown Player contract.
Lillard wrapped up his tremendous, four-year career with the Hoosiers in 2017 with a stellar season. A MAC Hermann Trophy finalist, Lillard was a unanimous First-Team All-America selection after being named the Big Ten Defender of the Year and First-Team All-Big Ten. He also earned First-Team United Soccer Coaches All-Midwest Region, College Cup All-Tournament Team, Big Ten All-Tournament Team and Academic All-Big Ten honors this year.
“It was an honor representing IU the past four seasons,” Lillard remarked. “Indiana soccer is special for what it accomplishes on the field, but for me it's the people that have made my experience the best I could have ever imagined. Coach Yeagley and coach Maisonneuve helped me grow off the field as much as they did on. They have helped me work and grow into this position I am in now and I am forever thankful I was lucky enough to attend Indiana and play soccer here. Lastly, I just want to thank my teammates I've had while being at IU. Every team I've played on was different and I enjoyed every second of it because of them. I couldn't have been luckier with the group of guys I've gotten to play with over the past four seasons. I'm a Hoosier for life.”
The Hinsdale, Ill. product started 25 matches for the Hoosiers as center back, helping lead one of the best defenses in the country. IU led the nation in shutouts (18), goals allowed (7) and goals-against average (.260). He has also contributed offensively this year, totaling two goals and two assists.
"The Chicago Fire is signing a bright young star,” Indiana head coach Todd Yeagley remarked. “Grant is capable of stepping into substantial role in his rookie year if he continues to make strides. Grant will go down as one of the finest defenders to wear the IU jersey. We are excited to see Grant join an organization that is going to be a deep playoff team in the years ahead."
For his career, Lillard started all 86 matches in which he appeared for IU, totaling 14 goals, nine assists and 37 points. Lillard was a two-time All-America honoree and earned All-Big Ten honors all four seasons, including First-Team accolades the past three seasons. He was also a four-time All-Region honoree and the Big Ten Rookie of the Year in 2014.
Lillard is the third player in Indiana history to sign Homegrown Player contract, joining Patrick Doody (Chicago Fire, 2015) and Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes, 2014).