Academy Philosophy

Letter from Academy Director Larry Sunderland

Hello To All Chicago Fire Academy Families!

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank you all for supporting the Chicago Fire Academy in 2014 and wish you and your families the very best for the upcoming 2014/15 season!!!

This past year we have expanded the reach of what Chicago Fire Player Development does by welcoming the Kentucky Fire Juniors, Michigan Fire Juniors and the Indiana Fire Academy to the Fire family.  Behind the scenes we have worked hard to change our competitive platforms in order to better serve our player development needs. Additionally, we are taking part in a global coaching initiative to provide continuing professional development for our coaches.  We continue to explore numerous plans to improve our training facilities and field equipment here at Toyota Park.

Over the years we have collected many trophies, won many matches, placed players in the top college programs and moved players on to the pros.  Our programs are considered amongst the top in the country, you can read about our accomplishments on numerous media outlets and over the past decade we have been mentioned on a regular basis as an influencer of positive change on the American soccer scene.

While these accomplishments might be quite satisfying to many organizations we are a little different here at the Fire. Everything mentioned above is done for one reason build better soccer players.  The introduction of the first funded, comprehensive Academy starting at U10 is the most visible commitment the Chicago Fire organization has made in Player Development.

The word "uplifting" is often associated with something spiritual in nature.  For me, and I think I am speaking for the entire staff when I say there is nothing more "uplifting" than to see our players implementing a style of play that has become synonymous with the Fire Academy.  There is nothing more "uplifting" than to watch our teams string passes together, work as a unit to defend, and implement the tactical ideas that connect all of our Academy teams.  There is nothing more "uplifting" than to hear players coaching one another on the field and sounding like their coaches do in training and on the sideline.

While we certainly have our share of struggles on and off the field I am continually uplifted by our Academy players and their teams.  The future is promising great rewards.  While that has something to do with winning, trophies, accolades and the tangible spoils of success, it has everything to do with YOU!  Your commitment, you child's passion and a gift we are all working together to fully develop.  The Fire Academy is about a culture of beautiful football!  That is what we celebrate and that is what uplifts us.

Larry Sunderland
Director of Player Development

Academy Director/Head Coach

Mission and Vision


To cultivate professional soccer players


To identify promising young soccer players, introduce them to a professional soccer environment with the purpose to advance the most talented of the field to the professional ranks of the Chicago Fire Soccer Club

Philosophy Chart