Super 20’s Earn Four

Win and draw in Thursday’s Finals Opener

The Chicago Fire Super-20 team sits tied atop Group A with
four points after playing their first two group matches of the 2010 USL
Super-20 North American Finals in Rockford on Thursday.

Because of an uneven amount of 11 teams present at the
Finals this year, the Fire’s group is being contested by three teams, playing
each other twice in abbreviated 60-minute games.

One of the favorites coming into the tournament with a
perfect 10-0-0 regular season record, the Fire opened their fourth straight
Super-20 Finals with an emphatic 5-0 win over Alpharetta United (GA).

The Fire got things started in the 14th minute
and never looked back after Javier Torres buried a feed from Harrison Petts.

Six minutes later the Fire kept up the pressure and were
rewarded when Callum Mallace finished a set piece to take the match to 2-0.

Just before halftime, Ethan Finlay streaked into the box
from the right and cut back a pass to Greg Jordan who made no mistake in
finishing past the United keeper, sending the match into half time at

After the interval, the Fire continued the onslaught,
holding a majority of the possession while threatening the United goal a number
of times.

The side added a fourth goal with 15 minutes remaining when
Finlay’s redirected free kick fell at the feet of a streaking Harrison Petts
who finished calmly to raise the score line to 4-0.

Just before full time, substitute midfielder Felipe Carrasco
hit a low-driven shot that tucked just inside the bottom right corner of the
United goal to finish the match at 5-0.

“Our game this morning was a good outing for us,” said
Super-20’s head coach Larry Sunderland. “We jumped on them early, we moved the
ball around well and we made sure we made the most of our time with these
shortened halves. Once we got the first goal we settled in and it was simple
from there.”

 Things went
differently in Game 2 Thursday afternoon as the Fire took the first blemish to
their record on the year, drawing 1-1 with Beachside FC (CT).

Though the club held the majority of the first half
possession, it was the New England-based club that drew first blood when
Beachside striker Scott Brown pounced on Krystian Witkowski’s poorly hit back
pass to goalkeeper Jordan Godsey. 
The Fairfield University striker rounded Godsey and finished easily into
the open net in the 12
th minute.

Frustrated but undeterred, the Fire responded with two
quality chances within 10 minutes of each other.

Midfielder Ethan Finlay’s cross from the right drove through
the box but left back Callum Mallace put the ball back in, finding Finlay whose
low effort was saved on the line by defender David Barna in the 19

Just before the half, Harrison Petts cutback back a pass to
Javier Torres, but the striker’s sliding attempt went just over goalkeeper
Sergio Lara’s cross bar.

The Fire came out into the second half with composure,
holding the lion’s share of possession but didn’t get a quality chance until
midfielder Jaymie Bullard’s half-volley from 25 yards out was saved by Lara in
the 38
th minute.

After a few yellow cards were handed out to Milan Tica and
Greg Jordan in the 41
st and 44th minutes respectively,
the Fire finally found the back of the net when Finlay broke up the left wing
and centered a left-footed pass across goal which Torres first-timed into the
back of the net, evening things at 1-1 after 48 minutes.

Looking for the go-ahead goal late, Finlay again played
Torres through on goal up the left, with the striker forcing an impressive save
out of Lara. His rebound effort trickled just wide of the right post and the
referee blew the final whistle seconds later.

“We came out flat this afternoon,” said Sunderland. “I
didn’t think our intensity was what it should have been after winning 5-0 this
morning. Beachside is a physical, run-and-gun, very direct team, which on the
small fields tend to favor. They managed to take advantage of our mistake in
the first half and just battled and made it hard for us to find any sort of a
rhythm. Credit to them, they did a great job in breaking up our play.”

The result moved both teams into a tie atop Group A with
four points following Beachside’s 4-2 win over Alpharetta United earlier Thursday
afternoon. Though tied on points, the Fire currently hold the tiebreaker with a
+5 goal difference compared to Beachside’s +2.

The two sides will meet again Friday afternoon at 1pm,
before the Fire take on Alpharetta United again at 5pm.