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Paladini looks to catch Fire

Former St. Francis High standout Daniel Paladini adjusting to role as midfielder with Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer

July 19, 2011|By Charles Rich, charles.rich@latimes.com

Having admirably excelled as a forward at the high school level before becoming a top-flight midfielder/forward in college, Daniel Paladini ultimately hoped his impressive body of work would lead to a professional soccer career.

While playing for the St. Francis High boys' team and Cal State Northridge men's program, Paladini continued to impress with his play-making skills. He found ways to score big goals and thread crisp passes upfield for equally big assists.

Yet, having been bestowed with plenty of accolades for his accomplishments on the field with St. Francis and CSUN, the humble Paladini knew he needed to work harder at his craft in his quest to become a pro.

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"It's what I wanted and it's every kid's dream," Paladini said. "If it happens, it happens.

"You have to keep improving your all-around skills and hope that it can get you to where you want to be. I'm thankful to be where I am."

For Paladini, the 2002 All-Area Boys' Soccer Player of the Year, that place is with the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer.

Things have come along well for Paladini, who is receiving his share of playing time as an attacking midfielder for a Chicago squad that's earned its share of ties this season while competing in the league's Eastern Division.

He hasn't forgotten the arduous path he had to take to land in Chicago following stints on the Galaxy and Chivas USA developmental teams. His saving grace came when he moved to the North American Soccer League with the Carolina RailHawks from 2009-10.

It was a decision the former All-Mission League Most Valuable Player and Big-West Conference standout wouldn't regret.

"I got to play with the Galaxy and got a little more time playing with Chivas," said Paladini, who appeared in eight matches with Chivas in 2008 after being taken in the supplemental draft by the Galaxy in 2006. "I made a decision to go to Carolina and work on my all-around game and that helped me get to Chicago.

"It's one of the best things I could have done going to Carolina. I said to myself that I had to do well down there. The team and I did well and the hard work paid off."

Paladini arrived in Carolina in late-2008 and became a go-to player for the RailHawks. He was named the club's most valuable player in 2009 and offensive player of the year in 2010. In 51 matches with Carolina, Paladini finished with 12 goals, prepping him for a move up to the MLS.

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