PD Pride

Academy, PDL teams earn big wins

The Chicago Fire Player Development Department took a major
bow this week with three big victories over longtime rivals the Michigan Bucks
(PDL) and Chicago Magic (Academy).

Wednesday night, both the Fire U16 and U18 Academy teams
downed their cross-town rivals with matching 1-0 score lines at Brother Rice
High School in Chicago.

Getting the night started, the Fire U18’s played a strong
game, allowing the side to create a number chances but failed to find the back
of the net in the first half. Coming out of the gate in the second frame, the
Fire buildup towards goal improved and they got their marker when Midfielder
Patrick Doody’s left footed free kick beat Magic goalkeeper Miles Herbert in
the 60
th minute.

The Magic’s attempts at an equalizer were thwarted and the
Fire U18s came away 1-0 victors with Tom Serratore earning the clean sheet in

The U16 match that followed was a much more chippy affair,
seeing four Magic players shown red cards by the end of the 90 minutes. The
result and the goal were much the same as the U18s match with Victor Pineda’s
free kick on the cusp of halftime holding through the rest of the match. Robert
Euler stood tall in the Fire goal to earn a matching clean sheet.

“You take pride in winning games against a local rival,”
said Academy Head Coach Larry Sunderland. “We obviously look to compete more
with the Academy sides from MLS teams but this one is important as well. I
thought through long stretches of both matches we played some very good soccer
and stayed out of the physicality that the Magic were trying to bring. I’m very
proud of our guys  for their performance
and now we look ahead to the possibility of both teams qualifying for the
playoffs this weekend.”

Thursday night the Fire PDL welcomed long-time rivals the
Michigan Bucks to the Toyota Park Turf Field, coming away 2-1 winners over
their Great Lakes Division foes.

In a tale of two halves, the Detroit-based side probably
should have gone into the interval with the lead, having dominated the first
half shot count 8-2. Fire goalkeeper Patrick Meves made all three of his saves
in the first half and was strong off his line claiming a number of dangerous
Bucks crosses.

The Bucks finally capitalized on their first half
performance when 2006 Fire SuperDraft selection Simon Omekanda broke up the
right side and sent a low cross to Rubin Bega who buried the chance past Meves
in the 54
th minute.

Nine minutes later the Fire responded on a similar play when
defender Sam Redmond’s cross found Domenic Barone, netting his second goal of
the PDL campaign in the 63
rd minute.

In a physical affair that saw a number of tough challenges
the two clubs traded blows, with Michigan leading in the yellow card count 4-1.
As the 90
th minute loomed the Fire began to takeover offensively,
earning two of their three corner kicks in second half stoppage time.

Bucks goalkeeper Mitch Hildebrandt made a number of save to
keep the match level but it was a former teammate that proved too much for the
Oakland University backstop.

 Teammates with the
Kalamazoo Outrage during the 2009 PDL season, Fire striker Tom Oatley rocketed
a shot at Hildebrandt which the Michigan keeper bobbled, resulting in the ball
falling to the feet of Mark Blades. The Fire left back, turned wing midfielder
finished the chance from close range in the 93
rd minute of play,
giving the home team an invaluable three points.

“Games against the Bucks are always intense and this one was
no different,” said PDL Associate Coach Mark Spooner. “It’s a game where we
didn’t always have the best of the play but we learned a lot about our guys
tonight after two disappointing results last week with Cleveland Cincinnati.
They battled to the very end, knowing three points was available and we’re
proud to take the win.”

With the result, the Fire PDL side moves to 12-6-1 all-time
against the Bucks since 2001. The victory also puts the team at 3-1-1 and
second in the PDL Great Lakes Division, just one point behind the Dayton Dutch
Lions. The side will take on the Kalamazoo Outrage on Saturday night at 7:30pm
for the return leg of the two club’s 2010 series. The Fire downed the west
Michigan side 2-0 in their opening match on May 19.