The Chicago Fire Super-20 team advanced to the USL Super-20 North American Finals Friday afternoon with a 2-1 victory over Beachside SC (CT) in their third of four Group A matches.
After playing to a 1-1 deadlock with the Connecticut-based side Thursday afternoon, the Fire got things started early when Javier Torres streaked up the left flank and fired a low-driven shot which was saved by goalkeeper Sergio Lara, but Ethan Finlay was there to bury the rebound in the 2nd minute.
As the side looked for the second goal, midfielder Kirk Urso stepped up the attack, providing three dangerous sequences in the span of five minutes.
The UNC product crossed from the right, finding a sliding Finlay who put the ball just over the bar in the sixth minute. Just seconds later, Urso’s 25-yard blast was deflected out for a corner kick. The Lombard, IL native finally came good with a beautiful give-and-go with Domenic Barone, putting the Michigan State striker through one-on-one with Lara, finishing coolly in the 10th minute.
Beachside responded almost immediately with Scott Brown marching down the field and finishing past Fire goalkeeper David Meves in the 11th minute.
The Fire controlled possession throughout the half, but couldn’t find a third goal before the interval.
A number of Fire opportunities went begging as the hosts outshot Beachside 11-0 but couldn’t find the insurance goal as Lara thwarted the team six times to keep the match 2-1. The score line was enough to clinch the Fire’s qualification to their fourth consecutive North American semifinals with one group match left to play later in the day.
“I thought it was a good win,” said Super-20 head coach Larry Sunderland. “We played better with the ball today than we did with them yesterday but we still squandered a lot of chances and Lara made some very good saves. I don’t know whether the score was necessarily reflective of the game but credit to Beachside -- they counterattack, they get after you, they work really hard throughout the game. At the end the 2-1 result is fair enough and we’re happy to be moving on.”
Fire down Alpharetta United 5-1
Despite having already qualified for the semi-finals, the Fire defeated Alpharetta United (GA) 5-1 Friday afternoon.
Greg Jordan put the Fire ahead in the 17th minute and then it became the Ian Christenson show, with the Fire Academy product striking in the 26th, 27th and 47th minutes of the match, before MichiganState striker Cyrus Saydee added a fifth goal with nine minutes remaining.
United salvaged a consolation goal late in the match to put the full time score at 5-1.
With the win, the Fire finish atop Group A with 10 points, taking their overall record to 13-0-1 in 2010.
After Monday morning’s results, the Fire will meet the Los Angeles Galaxy in the tournament’s semifinals, with the two club’s first teams set to face each other in a regular season match Sunday night in Carson, CA. The Super-20 match kicks off at 6pm at Wedgebury Stadium on the campus of SportScore II in Rockford, IL.