The Chicago Fire and San Jose Earthquakes weren’t the first teams to debut on the Toyota Park pitch in 2010, rather it was the Fire’s Academy side who took on the United States U-17 national team Saturday afternoon leading into the first team’s home opener that night.
In contrast to the professional’s result, the mixed side of U16 and U18 Fire Academy players thoroughly dominated the national youth selection, making good use of the pristine pitch in their 4-0 victory.
Spending the first 10 minutes feeling each other out, Fire striker Chris Prince began to flex his muscle up top, continuously stretching the U.S. backline. On 13 minutes, Fire winger Emanuel Guzman cut in from the right and centered a low cross to Prince, whose effort trickled just wide left of Wade Hamilton’s goal.
Hooking up again in the 20th minute, the two found success when Guzman sent a dangerous cross from the right inside the six. Prince beat Hamilton to the ball, flicking a header to the opposite post and giving the Fire a 1-0 lead.
Dominating in possession, the Fire tested Hamilton twice more before the interval. First in the 28th minute when midfielder Victor Pineda’s shot from the top of the 18 was well saved by Hamilton. Second half stoppage time saw Prince nearly earn a brace when the striker beat U.S. defender Russell Cannouse, before firing a rocket from the top of the penalty arc that screamed just wide left of the U.S. frame.
“The first half was decent,” said Fire Academy head coach Larry Sunderland. “We were dealing with windy conditions and we had some trouble getting rhythm with some of the players having not played together before. Despite the obstacles we did well to maintain possession and we were happy with the lead at halftime.”
The second half saw a number of changes with more Fire U16’s taking part and the youngsters settled in early, scoring twice inside the first eight minutes of the half.
First Tyler Engel put Pineda through on goal, with the attacker finishing past Hamilton in the 46th minute. Two minutes later, second half substitute Elliot Borge crossed for fellow match newcomer Luis Medina, with the resulting finish making it 3-0 Fire.
The U.S. U17’s best chance came when midfielder Zachary Pfeffer struck a driving ball from the top right of the 18 towards the opposite post. Fire goalkeeper Charlie Lyon made a diving save, holding on to the ball in the process.
The Fire youngsters continued to pepper the U.S. net, with Engel coming within inches of earning a brace, watching his 57th minute strike roll just right of frame.
The Fire rounded out the scoring in the 66th minute, this time with Medina sending a low cross in the box to Borge. The midfielder possessed the ball, cut back to fake a defender and sent a powerful strike to the back of the net.
“The second half was much more settled and by the end of the game eight of our 11 players on the field were from our U16 team. They settled in quickly and looked confident throughout the interval and we’re obviously happy with a victory over some of the country’s best youth talent.”
The Fire Academy will take the result into this weekend’s USSF Development Academy matches, when they host Real Colorado and the Colorado Rush on Saturday, April 17 and Sunday, April 18, respectively. All four matches will take place at the Toyota Park Training Field.
For more information on the Chicago Fire Academy, please visit //www.chicago-fire.com/content/fire-academy
U.S. U17 MNT vs. Chicago Fire U16/U18 Academy XI
Saturday, April 10, 2010
CFA – Chris Prince (Emanuel Guzman) – 20th minute
CFA – Victor Pineda (Tyler Engel) – 46th minute
CFA – Luis Medina (Elliot Borge) – 48th minute
CFA – Elliot Borge (Luis Medina) – 66th minute
United States U17’s: 1-Wade Hamilton, 2 Nathan Smith, 4-Russell Cannouse, 6-Brody Hickey, 3-Ive Burnett, 7-Zachary Pheffer, 10-Irvin Gijon, 5-Atsou Ayah, 8-Eric Gonzalez, 9-Martin Arrieta, 11-Ethan Decker
Chicago Fire Academy: 25-Charlie Lyon, 42-Mitch Albrecht, 56-Billy McGuiness, 58-Peter Beasley, 59-Scott Lakin, 48-Drew Connor, 47-Patrick Doody, 52-Trevor Wheeler, 46-Emmanuel Guzman, 55-Victor Pineda, 54-Chris Prince