Soccer

New USL club Fresno FC signs a hometown hero in Christian Chaney

Fresno Fuego forward Christian Chaney heads the ball over Burlingame’s Drew Skundrich in a Premier Development League playoff match Tuesday, July 19, 2016, at Chukchansi Park. Chaney, a Fresno native, will again call the Chuk home as one of the latest players to sign with USL expansion club Fresno FC.
Fresno Fuego forward Christian Chaney heads the ball over Burlingame’s Drew Skundrich in a Premier Development League playoff match Tuesday, July 19, 2016, at Chukchansi Park. Chaney, a Fresno native, will again call the Chuk home as one of the latest players to sign with USL expansion club Fresno FC. ckohlruss@fresnobee.com

A little more than a year ago, Bullard High alum Christian Chaney took a big step in his pursuit of a pro soccer career – one that took him all the way out of town.

The latest leap has him feeling right at home.

Chaney, 23, signed with United Soccer League expansion club Fresno FC, with the forward agreeing Wednesday to a contract ahead of the Foxes’ inaugural season in 2018, pending league and federation approval.

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Fresno FC signee Christian Chaney was a finalist for Premier Development League MVP during his 2016 season with the Fresno Fuego. FRESNO BEE FILE

Chaney appeared in nine matches for Sacramento Republic FC in 2017, including one start in 259 minutes played. He signed with Republic FC in 2016 after a banner season with the Fresno Fuego that saw him finish with 13 goals in 12 regular-season games and make the list of finalists for Premier Development League MVP.

“He’s scored a lot of goals on this field and I’m hoping the memory banks are triggered and he can recreate what he did for the Fuego in 2016,” said Fresno FC coach Adam Smith, already familiar with Chaney as a former Republic assistant. “There’s a lot more to come from Christian.

“I think it’s a important to look for homegrown talent. There’s nothing better than a local boy doing well, becoming a success story and playing for his own town.”

Among Chaney’s memorable moments at Chukchansi Park was a four-goal game against the Las Vegas Mobsters on May 19, 2016.

“It’s very exciting,” Chaney said. “I can’t stress enough how much I enjoy and how much it helped me playing for Fuego and in front of the Fire Squad (booster club). When people ask me about Fresno, the one thing I mention is that the people here are diehard fans and loyal supporters and it really helps. It’s really an incredible feeling.”

In 2015, Chaney signed with FC Ararat Yerevan of the Armenian Premier League after facing them in an exhibition while with the Fuego. Chaney starred at Fresno City College, where he was a JC All-American as a sophomore. He is a product of the Cal Odyssey Soccer Academy.

The Fresno FC roster currently numbers six. Two were signed Tuesday: defender Mickey Daly and midfielder Agustin Cazarez. And on Thursday, Fresno FC was assigned three players from its Major League Soccer affiliate, Vancouver Whitecaps FC: goalkeeper Sean Melvin, midfielder Matthew Baldisimo and forward Terran Campbell. All three are products of the Whitecaps’ residency program and made their pro debuts in the USL with Whitecaps FC 2 – the franchise that Fresno is effectively replacing in USL.

Fresno FC will kick off its inaugural season in the USL in March 2018. Season ticket information is available at 559-320-2525 or FresnoFC.com.

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