Player Development Update

Super-20’s Qualify for North American Finals

The Chicago Fire Super-20 team qualified for its fourth-straight United Soccer Leagues North American Finals last Friday, July 2 with a 2-0 win over Cincinnati United Premier in Cincinnati, OH. The victory was the first of two in Ohio that weekend as the team defeated the Columbus Crew Juniors 2-1 the following day at Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH.

Friday night the 20’s were spurred on by two players that are also Fire PDL regulars. Midfielder Sam Redmond (Wake Forest) recorded a goal and assist while striker Tony Walls (UWGB) tallied the other goal in the Finals-clinching victory over United Premier.

The next day the Super-20 team traveled north to Columbus, as their match with the Crew Juniors preceded the two MLS sides’ game that night at Crew Stadium. Despite qualifying the day before, the Fire 20’s were still playing for pride as the two clubs MLS rivalry has spilled over into the player development realm.

Joining the team for both matches in Ohio was Chicago Fire Juniors-Louisiana product Patrick Mullins, who became the first player from a CFJ satellite club to progress to the Super-20 team. Set to play at the University of Maryland this fall, the striker’s presence was huge in Columbus as he scored the winner in Saturday’s 2-1 victory. Redmond added the first goal while former Fire Academy product Ian Christianson (Georgetown) assisted on both tallies.

The win moved the Super-20’s to a perfect 8-0-0 record as the team rounds out its Midwest Division schedule this weekend in a return leg with the Crew Juniors Friday at 3:00pm before closing out the regular season Sunday with the Kings Soccer Academy. Both matches will be played at the Toyota Park Turf Field.

The side will have a two week break before hosting the USL Super-20 North American Finals in Rockford, IL. Set to take place July 29-August 1, 2010 marks the second straight year the club will host the tournament at Rockford’s Sportscore II Complex.

Fire PDL

The Chicago Fire PDL are mired in a tough Great Lakes Division battle as they currently sit in a three-way tie for second place on 23 points with the Michigan Bucks and Dayton Dutch Lions.

The Fire played only one match the past week, a 1-1 draw with current division toppers Forest City London on Monday, July 5 at the Toyota Park Turf Field. Out of action since a 2-1 loss in Dayton on June 26, the Fire looked a bit sluggish against a speedy Canadian side that did well to stretch the Fire all over the field in the first 45 minutes.

The second interval was a different story as the Fire pressed the attack, forcing FC London goalkeeper Pat Eavenson into eight second half saves. Pushing numbers forward in search of a win, the Fire were caught out as London countered with veteran striker Alan McGreal earning a penalty kick which he slotted calmly past keeper David Meves (Akron) in the 85th minute. Things looked bleak for the hosts as the side began playing ball-after-ball into the penalty area in hopes of finding the equalizer before the death.

It finally came in the fifth minute of stoppage time when Robert Younger’s (UIC) prayer of a cross connected with striker Tom Oatley who headed past Eavenson from closer range. With four matches remaining, the result keeps the Fire alive in the fight for the Great Lakes Division’s two playoff spots. The team returns to action in its last away game of the season this Saturday, July 10 at 6:30pm CT against longtime rivals Michigan Bucks at Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, MI before closing the PDL campaign with three consecutive matches at Toyota Park.

U16 Academy

The Chicago Fire U16 Academy continued preparations this week for the US Soccer Development Academy’s National Finals to be held at The Home Depot Center in Carson, CA next week.The team will depart for Los Angeles early tomorrow morning before taking on the Chicago Sockers the next day, DC United (July 12) and De Anza Force (July 14).