Player Development Update

Both Academy teams qualify for national playoffs

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 60
th 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, 3
rd in Frontier Division).

 The U16s left it late but went 2-0-1 over the past week. On June 2, Victor
Pineda’s 40
th 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, 1
st 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 54
th 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 63
rd 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 93
rd 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.