The Chicago Fire Academy teams went unbeaten (1-0-1) over Chicago Magic at the College of Dupage, Saturday.
In the first match of the day, the U-17/18 team (9-5-6) drew 1-1.
“A tie was probably fair in a sloppy game,” said Chicago Academy Director Larry Sunderland. “Whenever we play the Magic, it's a very emotional match for them. It's their derby game -- it’s very important for them".
Sunderland said the measuring stick for his team is how they perform against fellow MLS Academy teams.
"Our mission is very much different than youth clubs. Our goal is to develop players who will one day help to raise the level of play in this country. By playing a style of soccer that is not seen too often here. If, as a byproduct of this we win - that's great. We have been fortunate so far"
Forward Jeffrey Farina gave the Fire the lead off a header from back post across the goal from a corner in the 29th minute. The goal was the New Trier High School product's team-leading 15th in 19 games this season.
The Magic’s Dzenan Nezirevic strike 14 minutes later canceled out the tally.
“[The goal came] on a casual play on our part. It was a poor clearance and a sloppy goal.”
Farina picked up an injury early in the closing stanza limiting the Fire offensively for the remainder of the match.
For the second straight weekend a player picked up a red card, as Ricardo Aldape forced the Fire to play short for the final five minutes.
The Fire U-17/18 squad currently sits in fourth in the USSFDA Mid-America Division and eighth in the wild card playoff standings.
In the second game, the Fire U-15/16 squad topped the Magic 2-0.
“It was a very good performance start to finish,” said Sunderland. “The 16s were good on the ball. Their soccer outmatched the intensity and emotion of the other team.”
Forwards Brian Werchek and Alex Underwood provided goals in the 52nd minute and 70th minute, respectively.
“Alex got a real nice second goal -- it was a sequence that set him up in front for the finish. The first goal was a second effort as the keeper bobbled it and he snuck it through.”
Defenders Mauricio Pineda (brother of Fire first-teamer Victor Pineda) and Cristian Sanchez held down the middle of the backline in the shutout. Midfielders Collin Fernandez, Shannon Seymour and Martin Alba controlled the game from the center of the park.
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“We got a lot of good performances from a lot of guys. Our center backs on the day were good. Our interior [midfield] triangle was very good.”
The Fire currently sit second in the Mid-American Division with a 12-3-6 record.
The Academy teams are back in action this Saturday against another local foe in Sockers FC at the Toyota Park Turf Field.
The U-17/18 side kicks off at 11 a.m. followed the U-15/16 squad at 1:30 p.m.
“[They are] going to be [tough games], they bunker in,” Sunderland said of Sockers FC. “They try to hit you on the counter they don’t give up a lot of goals. They make the games long and are difficult to beat.”