EppS Farina DL
Jason Minnick

Fire U-16s Look to Exact Red Bull Revenge at Academy Finals Thursday Night

The Chicago Fire U-16 Academy will look to exact a little revenge for the first team when they take on their counterparts from the New York Red Bulls Academy in their second game of the 2012 U.S.S.D.A. National Finals in Houston, Texas.  

The two sides clash in an all-important group match just a day after the MLS Red Bulls defeated an entrenched Fire side 1-0 behind a 71st minute wonder strike from Thierry Henry.

Fire U-16 Head Coach Larry Sunderland said he placed the defeat in the mind of his players Wednesday, pointing to the team as a big part of the overall club.

“We were following the match and were disappointed to see the result,” he said Wednesday morning from Houston.  “I think both teams here have a fair amount of respect for each other – that’s the case any time you play another MLS Academy. From our standpoint though, I’ve used it as motivation telling the guys they took one from us yesterday, let’s get it back for the first team tonight.”

Both teams enter the game coming off of matching 3-1 results Tuesday night – the Fire defeated Charlotte Soccer Academy while Red Bull took down Pateadores (Calif.).

Continuing their form from last month’s national playoffs in Frisco, Texas, Jeff Farina and Marcus Epps each bagged a goal inside eight minutes to force their influence on the match.  Pateadores pulled one back two minutes later but second half substitute A.R. Smith bagged the icing goal in the 64th, just one minute after entering the match.

Red Bull has restocked its team, returning four players that have been down at U.S. Soccer’s U-17 Residency program in Bradenton, Fla., for the tournament. With the likes of Wesley Wade, Christopher Lema, Kevin Politz and Evan Louro joining the team in Houston, Red Bull was dubbed early tournament favorites, something that Sunderland jokingly welcomed.

“The way people talk about them down here, it sounds to me like they’ve brought in the whole national team. I don’t know if Juergen [Klinsmann] is coaching them but everything I’m reading is that they’re going to walk through this group. I think that’s good. Our guys are ready for the challenge. We’re fine being the underdog.”

With both teams holding three points going into the game, Sunderland concedes that the winner Thursday night will likely be the team to advance from the group to play in Monday’s National Championship match.

“That’s the scenario. Nobody’s out of our group right now. I think for sure, you’re highly favored to go through if you win this match. I think a lot of people look at tonight as what a potential championship game could have looked like. We’ve drawn a lot on similarities and our experience from 2010 and we know what’s at stake tonight.”

Follow the match LIVE via @ChiFireMatch beginning at 9pm CT.