MLS- Chicago Fire

The Best MLS Draft Speech Ever

If you didn't happen to be one of the few people still in the ballroom at the St. Louis Convention Center when the fourth and final round of the 2009 MLS Draft wound down, you probably missed your chance to see one of the best speeches delivered in MLS draft history (or at the very least, the best draft speech this year).

The speech was delivered by Campbell University midfielder Richard Jata, the last undrafted player left in the ballroom. The Chicago Fire selected him with the 58th pick in the draft, the third to last pick. Rather than just take his Fire scarf and go home, Jata took to the podium and delivered a heartfelt speech that the people still in attendance at the draft definitely enjoyed.

The folks at MLSnet.com were kind enough to include the speech at the tail end of the latest episode of Extra Time. Here is the speech (skip to the 4:00 mark to watch the speech):

What did you think of the speech? Will you be rooting for Jata to make the Fire roster?

Share your thoughts below.

  • howie1976

    Awesome speech… my favorite line was when he got choked up and said “I’d like to thank my dad. This has been our dream since I was born.” Classic!! Go Luck Richard!!


  • Dr. Rockzo, The Rock N' Roll Clown

    How can that not make him an instant fan favorite? If I were a Chicago fan I’d be pissed if they end up cutting him.


  • andrew

    I saw myself in the footage of the maryland game. Good luck to richard. Good luck omar, graham, AJ, Jeremy, Rodney and all former terps.


  • Cindy

    that was adorable! i’m a fan of Richard Jata himself now! i love when people are genuinely thankful, it’s a nice thing see and hear.


  • brett

    i agree with cindy, the fact he was genuinely thankful made the difference… not to mention he had a sense of humor about things….

    im hoping the kid succeeds, and the short stint i watched of the youtube clip above, it seems he could do well…. hopefully he goes out and impresses…


  • Jonathan

    His teammate and my former student, Ahmed Buazza, said Jata has what it takes to play pro. Hopefully things will work out for him with Chicago. I know Campbell was devestated they didn’t make it the tourney.


  • Isaac

    Damn his right hand was in action.

    Naw but really nice to see someone so appreciative. Shows that when he gets out there he’ll give it his all.


  • Jacob A.

    I think I want a Jata jersey.

    Partially cause I think “Jata jersey” is a fun thing to say, but mostly because that guy seems AWESOME.


  • baldguy

    The smile tells the tale. So sincere. The world needs more good people to shine. Hopefully he’s one of them! Good luck Richard. Chicago’s happy to have you.


  • RedLine55

    let’s hope he keeps that right arm spasm thing to a minimum when/if he gets on the field at TP… that could be huge trouble in the box. welcome Jata!


  • Tim K

    I am a fellow Campbell Grad and went to school with Jata. I watched him play several times. As a Fire fan I am excited and hopes he brings that kind of passion to the pitch!


  • Brett

    Is there a reason he couldn’t have done this in an interview after the draft?

    I’m happy for him that he got drafted, but this just seems unnecessary.


  • John

    It quickly became pretty obvious that he was from a special family…..his brother was “everywhere” promoting him on the internet.They apparently care a lot about each other….I wish him the best.


  • Travis in Miami

    Brett (the 2nd one) – i was shocked by your first comment. it was so NICE! Then after reading the second one I realized the first one wasn’t you… I thought you may have gotten swept up in the new President’s call for change and positivity but like he said change won’t be easy….


  • wally

    from the clip he looks to have great technical ability on the ball, a soft first touch and a vicious right foot (although speed and size appear less noteworthy). The speech was great – funny and genuine. I’ll be rooting for him.


  • Homey Boehme

    @Brett – Explain to me who exactly would be interviewing the 13th pick from the 4th round of the MLS draft. NO ONE! Honestly, no one cared that this guy got drafted.

    The point is, it meant a great deal to him, and although he knew that no one else probably cared, he wanted to let his family and coaches know how much it meant to him.

    @Ed Ho – Your post was a waste of time.


  • david

    i’ve been watching Campbell soccer for 10 years, and if Jata can focus on the game, he can change a game just being on the field. i’m glad he got drafted, and hope that he does indeed end up being a diamond in the rough for the Fire!


  • CU Alum

    Too bad he’s actually a (jerk) in real life. Went to college with him for two years (two years too many) and he’s arrogant, conceited, and downright rude.


  • doug

    maybe arrogant, conceited and rude, but a situation like this may humble him. put down the haterade and dont hate on him cause he’s pro and youre a joe, CU Alum.

    You should take pride in someone representing your school on the pro level.


  • Firepower

    I’m really proud of this kid. He’s the type of player who knew what he wanted to do with his life at a young age, training non stop day in and day out.

    Jata has made the sacrifices that all professional players must do if they want to succeed in the long run and it’s great that his opportunity is finally here.

    Good luck with the Fire Jata! You deserve it!


  • Ron

    I thought his speech was hearfelt and moving when he thanked his Dad, but the rest of it was pretty bad. In any case I hope he does well on the pro level.


  • sirfallsalot

    I was at the draft. He was the absolute LAST player in the room, so in our minds he earned his time at the podium.

    What the video doesn’t show is that the applause came from everyone in the room. Not just the fans, but the MLS coaching staffs and the media alike. It made it worth sticking around until the end.


  • Travis

    Good for him. Just hope he can get something out of his chance.

    Its nice to see a sincere player for once.


  • Danny

    The only thing he could have said to sound like an idiot would be:

    “Guy sounds like an idiot. Perfect pick for the Fire.”

    Truth is, guys like this make MLS what it is. People complain because MLS is a “lesser” league, but they fail to see the stories of dreams coming true. Kids playing a game for a living. Hard work paying off. There are very, very few Ronaldos in this world, but that doesn’t mean quality football isn’t being played. MLS provides that in our country and this kid is EXACTLY why MLS should be supported. Even if it isn’t your first choice, it should still be supported and not looked down upon, ESPECIALLY by Americans. We have enough Euro snobs and we don’t need more.


  • Jorge Parada

    To the Campbell Alumn:

    Number one, you are the person who is rude and arrogant for two reasons. You obviously didn’t know richard jata, only saw him walking around campus and at social event. also you only stayed two years because you are dumb enough to not be able to spell conceeded thew right way(by the way i am foreign and CAN spell). I knew Jata very well, and I am gonna say I feel lucky for being able to share time with someone as genuine and funny as he was. You simply hate him because he was popular, the girls liked him, and also was one good athlete with talent.

    Number two, I am glad to see that he made it, thanked everyone, didn’t change the way he is and I can’t root harder for him to succeed.

    Jata, you are a genie and most of us like you and miss you and will root for you but of course, because you are so good some idiots will hate you and be jealous

    Go get it Ricardo!


  • This Guy

    He should be an instant fan favorite. I’ve been a Fire supporter since the Bocanegra and Beasley Bros. days and I’m for him. I’m also a season ticket holder which once meant something to the Fire organization.


  • Experience Dogood

    I’m happy he made the speech, and it is refreshing to see an athlete be so genuine during such a moment. However, what he said was mostly unoriginal. It’s how he said it that made it somewhat special.



  • Kevin

    I was one of the traveling KC fans that attended the draft, and we were going to leave after the Wizards final pick. But Jata was sitting next to us, and it was heart-wrenching to see him sit there and get passed over pick after pick.

    We decided to stay for when he got picked, and I am glad he got his moment in the sun.

    Hopefully this drives him to succeed and make the roster and become a good player in this league. Good luck Jata.


  • Lone Star

    If that is the best speech in draft history, it explains why MLS is irrelevant commercially.


  • Steven G

    I know Richard personally and have played ball with him for several years as we both grew up in Port Richey, FL. We also played sand soccer together for the last 5 years. I must say he is one of the most talented players I have ever played with… and I played Div. 2 soccer with a top 10 team for 4 years. I guarantee you that he is a “diamond in the rough” and will make the Fire squad. He is a great friend and an amazing individual. Anybody who says otherwise on here does not know him personally. He truly deserves the best.


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