Player Development Update

Fire Developmental Academy Update


The Chicago Fire U-18 and U-16 Academy squads again went undefeated this past weekend in U.S. Soccer Development Academy Great Lakes Division play. The U-18s defeated Crew Soccer Academy 4-0 (Saturday) and Internationals of Cleveland 3-0 (Sunday). The U-16s were also victorious in both of their games, defeating Crew Soccer Academy 2-1 and Cleveland Internationals 2-0.

The U-18s kicked off Saturday, April 21 against fellow MLS academy squad Columbus Crew at Obetz Training Facility in Obetz, Ohio. The Fire went ahead in the 36th minute when the Crew's Ryan McLaughlin knocked in an own goal. Minutes later, Keaton Albert added to the Fire's lead with a goal in the 38th minute. The U-18s weren't done however, and doubled their lead after the half with goals from Andrew Oliver in the 67th minute and Jesus Medina in the 75th to give the side a 4-0 victory. Christian Lomelli started in goal and recorded the shutout.

In the second match of the day, the Fire U-16 squad also challenged the Crew at Obetz Training Facility. Marcus Epps opened the scoring early with his goal in the 11th minute and Anthony Smith added to the Fire's lead with a goal in the 74th. The Crew would draw one back minutes later courtesy of a 77th minute goal from Noah Hutchins but it wasn't enough as the Fire went on to win 2-1.

On Sunday, April 22, the Fire U-18 squad took on Cleveland Internationals at the Pinnacle Sports Complex in Medina, Ohio. After a scoreless first half, the Fire continued to attack and saw Joey Calistri breakthrough in the 61st minute, to put the Fire up 1-0. Just one minute later, the Fire doubled their lead off a goal by Chisom Ogbonna. Calisitri added his second goal of the game in the 84th minute to give the Fire a resounding 3-0 victory, while Zak Allen played in goal as the U-18s recorded their fourth straight clean sheet and ninth in 13 matches this season.

In the afternoon fixture, the Fire U-16s came away with a 2-0 win over the Internationals. The Fire drew first blood when Luca Giovine scored in the 14th minute. The Internationals' Michael Bowden knocked in an own goal in the 42nd minute and the Fire came away with a 2-0 victory. Kyle Anthony Dal Santo was in goal to earn the shutout.

The Chicago Fire Academy teams return to action on Saturday, April 28 when the U-18 and U-16 teams take on Indiana United Fire Academy at the Toyota Park Practice Field. This is the first meeting between the clubs since the Chicago Fire and the Indiana United Soccer Club announced their formal partnership in September 2011. The partnership, which brought Indiana United under the Chicago Fire umbrella, allows outstanding players in Indiana with a local option to be connected to Fire, which has one of the top player development programs in the United States.


With dominating wins and an impressive shutout streak, the Chicago Fire U-18s currently sit atop the U.S. Soccer Developmental Academy standings. In six conference games, the Fire have a perfect 6-0-0 record.

Joey Calistri leads the team with ten goals in the six conference games, four of which came against Vardar SC Freiburg on March 24. Calistri entered the game as a substitute in the 61st minute and made an immediate impact, tallying goals in the 69th, 76th, 80th and 88th minutes.

Zak Allen and Christian Lomelli have split time in goal this season, combining for shutouts in five of the last six games.

In 13 games across all competitions, the U-18s have recorded nine shutouts and have eight games where they have scored three or more goals.


Last week the Chicago Fire hosted Atletico Madrid U-16 Academy Coach  Rafa Carmona. This visit was made possible through the strategic alliance between the clubs, which along with Club América and Sport Club Internacional, was created to bring the organizations together in the spirit of synergy as it relates to the growth of soccer on and off the field.

Carmona, who has a lead role in developing the coaching methodology for Atletico Madrid, spent the week immersing himself in all aspects of the Fire’s technical and player development side, including attending first team practices and Fire Academy practices and games. Carmona also took in both the Fire first team and reserve matches against the Houston Dynamo.

In addition to meeting with club officials, Carmona lead an informational session on April 16 to discuss all aspects of player development, including game model creation.


The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Friday a strategic merger between Naples Youth Soccer Club and the Florida Fire Juniors program. The expanded Florida Fire Juniors are one of eight clubs in the Chicago Fire Juniors family and one of five outside of the Chicagoland area. Since 2008, the Fire’s youth development program has grown from 400 to more than 10,000 across seven states.

In 2010, the Florida Fire Juniors were formed by the union of Florida Premier Soccer Club, Gulf Coast Soccer Academy and Southwest Florida United Soccer Academy in an effort to provide a long-term development pathway for its players. The Florida Fire Juniors maintain the infrastructure for player and team development that produces the highest quality player and team results. It was this strong player development philosophy that encouraged the Naples Youth Soccer Club Sharks into developing a partnership with the Fire.

Founded in 1978, the Naples Sharks have been a community focused club with 350 players that take part in all levels of soccer in the state of Florida.

The Chicago Fire Juniors program was formed to train area youth in a professionally run environment and has since expanded to include branches in Chicago, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky. Through the Juniors program, players ages eight-years-old to 18-years-old receive professionally developed curriculum to help build skill and knowledge of the game. The Juniors program has seen direct results, including the signing of Mississippi Fire Juniors product Kellen Gulley to the first team.