Born: April 14, 1985
Town: Toms River
Christopher Konopka was born April 14, 1985 in Toms River. His parents, Walt and Debbie, encouraged him to participate in the town’s various youth sports programs, as well as the Jersey Shore Boca soccer club. Tall and rangy, with great leaping ability, Chris excelled in basketball and as a soccer goalie. He lettered in both sports for Toms River East High School and earned regional All-America honors as a senior in 2002. He was also All-Conference and All-County, and was invited to participate in the Olympic Development Program.
At 6’5”, Chris had the physical attributes to become a world-class goalkeeper. He honed his game at Providence on a soccer scholarship, becoming a starter as a junior in 2005. The Friars qualified for two NCAA tournaments while he performed for the varsity. After graduating in 2007, Chris set his sights on a pro soccer career. He improved his appeal to European clubs by obtaining dual citizenship status through his Polish ancestry. He was drafted by the Kansas City Wizards of MLS but rode the bench for the entire 2007 season.
In 2008, he crossed the Atlantic to play for Bohemian FC of the League of Ireland. He saw action as a sub on the Bohs, who went on to win both the league championship and the FAI Cup. In 2009, Chris won both medals again, this time as a back-up for Sporting Fignal. His best game came in the semifinals of the FAI Cup, when he scored a 4–2 victory over Bray Wanderers. Chris played the 2010 season with Waterford United.
Chris returned to the U.S. and made himself available as part of the MLS Goalkeepers Pool. Between 2011 and 2014, he spent time with the Columbus Crew, New York Red Bulls, Philadelphia Union and Toronto FC. It was with Toronto in 2015—at age 30—that Chris finally got a chance to shine. He beat our Joe Bendik for the startong job and played 21 games for the club, going 11–7–3, with 4 shutouts. His 11 victories established a franchise record. Chris became a fan favorite after defeating the arch-rival Montreal Impact with an amazing double-save, and then taking a swig of a fan’s beer as the game ended. He was also suspended during the season for a dangerous tackle.
Toronto released Chris after the season. As the 2016 season approached, he was the odds-on favorite to become the #1 goalie for DC United.