Player Development Update

In a combined eight matches this past week between the Fire Academy U18 and U16 teams, PDL and Super-20 teams, the club went an impressive 6-2-2 and three of four of the sides finished the week on top of their respective divisions. Here’s a breakdown of how all four teams fared over the past seven days.

Chicago Fire Academy

Following a flurry of matches over the past two weeks both at the Academy Showcase in Sarasota, FL and back here in Chicagoland, both Fire U16 and U18 Academy sides qualified for the USSF Development Academy’s national playoffs to be held June 25-29 in Browns Summit, NC.

Despite going 1-2-0 on the week, the Fire U18s qualified for the national playoffs following their 1-0 defeat of the Chicago Magic on June 2. Midfielder Patrick Doody’s 60th minute free kick was enough to lead the U18s past their cross-town rivals and into the top three of the USSFDA’s Frontier Division.

With qualification assured, the U18s rested players on the weekend, falling 2-0 to the Chicago Sockers on June 5 and going down 4-3 to FC Milwaukee the following day. 

The U18’s finished the Academy regular season with a 15-7-4 record overall (10-4-3, 3rd in Frontier Division).

 The U16s left it late but went 2-0-1 over the past week. On June 2, Victor Pineda’s 40th minute free kick stood up as the only required strike in the Fire’s 1-0 win over the Chicago Magic. At the weekend, the side needed a minimum of four points from their final two matches to clinch playoff qualification and they got it in the form of a 0-0 draw on Saturday with the Chicago Sockers and an emphatic 2-0 win over FC Milwaukee which clinched a playoff spot and the Frontier Division championship for the younger Fire side.

The Fire U16s finished the Academy regular season with a 12-5-9 overall record (10-4-3, 1st in Frontier Division). 

This is the first time both Fire Academy teams have advanced to the National Playoffs in the same season.

Both Academy teams will travel to Browns Summit, NC for the USSF DA’s National Playoffs to be held June 25-29.

Thirty-two teams from both the U16 and U18 age level will descend on Browns Summit, NC for the USSF DA’s National Playoffs from June 25-29. Both age brackets will consist of eight groups of four (to be determined this Thursday), with teams playing a straight round-robin and having each group winner advance to the National Finals at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA next month.

Fire PDL

The Fire bounced back from missing out on their second straight Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup appearance with two victories last week over the visiting Michigan Bucks (2-1 on June 3) and away over the Kalamazoo Outrage (5-0 on June 5) which took the club to the top of the Premier Development League’s Great Lakes Division.

The hosts found themselves down 1-0 to Michigan in the 54th minute when former Fire SuperDraft selection Simon Omekanda beat keeper David Meves. It took the side just under 10 minutes to respond when Sam Redmond found Domenic Barone in the 63rd minute.

The equalizer saw the game’s momentum shift and the Detroit-based side sat back in an effort to absorb the offensive pressure and hit the Fire on a counter attack. Few opportunities were had for the Bucks and the plan almost saw the match end in a draw before forward Tom Oatley’s 93rd minute strike was bobbled by Bucks keeper Mitch Hildebrandt and fell to the feet of left winger Mark Blades for literally the last strike of the match.

Two days later, the Fire traveled to Kalamazoo, MI and came out emphatic 5-0 winners over the Kalamazoo Outrage at Loy Norrix High School. Attacking midfielder Kirk Urso led the way with two goals and an assist, while Andy Adlard, Sam Redmond and Barone recorded single tallies. Goalkeeper Alex Riggs earned his second shutout win of the season and remains unbeaten after three matches with a 2-0-1 record.

With a 4-1-1 record, the Fire currently sit atop the Great Lakes Division on 13 points, just one ahead of professional side Dayton Dutch Lions and the Michigan Bucks. The team travels to Cincinnati Wednesday night, looking to avenge the only blemish on their record, a 2-1 defeat at Toyota Park on May 25.

Fire Super-20

The Fire Super-20’s began their quest to add to their 2008 North American championship with a 3-0 victory over TKO at Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo, MI. 

Ryan Foreman’s brace was complimented by a single strike from Javier Torres, giving the younger Fire side the perfect start to the Super-20 campaign.

The Fire Super-20’s will look to move to 2-0 Wednesday night when they visit Kings Soccer Academy in Wilder, KY.