The Chicago Fire U23 side became the club’s second player development team in 10 days to take home a national championship Sunday, as they downed Maryland Bays 4-2 in extra time at the USASA U23 Amateur Cup in Overland, KS.
The U23s advanced from group play with a perfect 3-0-0 record after defeating FC Maryland and the Arizona Sahuaros with matching 3-0 score lines on Friday July 23. The following day the side punched their ticket to Sunday’s championship match with a 4-0 win over Futsoc USA Enigma (FL), scoring 10 goals and conceding none in their three Group A matches.
Waiting the Fire in Sunday’s USASA U23 Championship was Maryland Bays who advanced from Group B with a 2-0-1 record.
The Fire looked like they would easily take the title as they ran out to a 2-0 lead in the first 11 minutes. They got on the board three minutes in when Dorrin Oprea’s cross from the right found A.J. Konchar at the back post who calmly put the side up 1-0. Eight minutes later, Matt Eliason found himself in alone on goal and finished past the Bay’s keeper to put the Fire up 2-0.
The Fire closed out the first half by providing high pressure to keep the Maryland side scoreless, but gave up two goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half to equalize. The Bays pressured to find the winner before regular time ended but couldn’t come up with the third goal and the ref blew the whistle for extra time.
The first half of the extra frame ended like the first 90 minutes with the teams deadlocked at 2-2, but the Fire finally broke through early in the second half when Taylor Bond won a penalty kick which Anel Bajrektarevic calmly finished to put the side ahead 3-2.
With two minutes left and Maryland looking for the goal to send the match to penalties, the Fire got an insurance marker as James Potton put the match out of reach.
The championship is the Chicago Fire’s second youth title in 10 days time and the club will go after its third this weekend as the Super-20 team hosts the USL North American Finals at SportScore II Complex in Rockford, IL.