Colin Fernandez
Jay Dunwell

Chicago Fire Academy goes unbeaten vs. Columbus Crew, Internationals

It’s hard to complain when three teams head to Ohio, all of them play two games, and none head back to town with a loss.

That was the case for the U18, U16 and U14 teams this weekend, as all three teams faced the Columbus Crew on Saturday, then traveled to Cleveland for another match Sunday.

U18s win a pair

The U18 squad walked away with two clean wins, soundly taking out the Columbus Crew 5-2 before beating the Cleveland Internationals 3-0 run their Mid-America Division record to 4-0-0.

The Fire jumped all over Columbus on a wet Saturday, finding good fortune off set pieces to open a 4-0 lead by halftime.

Collin Fernandez played a part in two goals: His pass from out on the left side led to Michael Jimenez finishing, and he also headed in a goal off a corner kick to make it 3-0 in the 37th minute.

Oscar Gonzalez opened the rush with a goal off a free kick in the 22nd minute and Jeff Farina capped the first-half barrage with a goal off a corner kick.

About a minute after Columbus scored in the second half, Qudus Lawal responded with a goal in the 77th minute. Columbus added a goal in the 90th minute for the final margin.

On Sunday in Cleveland, super sub Lawal struck again, finishing with two second-half goals in a 3-0 win over the Internationals.

“He’s been on fire every time he comes off the bench,” said Academy staff coach Victor Fernandez

Shannon Seymour (right) put in a first-half goal, with Colin Fernandez picking up another assist.

U16s tie twice

In a wild weekend, the U16s settled for two ties, in two very different matches.

They tied Columbus 4-4 in a topsy-turvy match, then had a scoreless draw against Cleveland. They're now 1-1-2 overall, good enough for a tie for sixth in the Mid-American division.

On Saturday, they came out flying against the Crew, with Rogioberto Rojas putting away two goals not even 15 minutes in.

But the Crew responded with four goals during a 12-minute stretch in the second half. Mauricio Pineda, brother of Fire first teamer Victor, cut the deficit to one in the 63rd minute and Jack Shaw found the equalizer in the 77th minute.

The Fire even had a later chance to take the lead but missed an open net.

Sunday’s tie against Cleveland didn’t have the same fireworks. The Fire came out clean, and Pineda, Jake Fernandez and Joseph Lee controlled play in the midfield, but they couldn’t put a goal away in a 0-0 match.

U14s win twice

The U14s walked away winners of two matches, beating Columbus 4-2 on Saturday before crushing Cleveland 6-1 the following day to move to 3-0-1. With 10 points, they trail only the Chicago Magic (4-0-0, 12 points), which they play Sunday at College of DuPage, in the Mid-America division.

Against Columbus, in a game moved to a turf field because other matches and rainy weather had damaged the original field, the Fire had to come back from an early hole.

Nick Markanich put in a pair of goals, the first tying the match after Columbus took the lead from a steal and upper-90 finish in the 24th minute.

Vitalis Takawira Jr., son of former Kansas City Wizards striker Digital Takawika, put the Fire up 2-1 at the break with a goal in the 33rd minute while Markanich added his second goal in the 44th minute.

Columbus put in its second goal on a Fire miscue on a free kick in the 67th minute, but David Gorniak made a run down the left side and finished to solidify a two-goal win.

On Sunday, the Fire dominated from the start against Cleveland.

Part of a four-goal first half for the Fire, Adrian Ortega finished from the top of the box in the third minute.

Gorniak put in his second goal of the weekend in the 11th minute, hitting in a one-timer with his left foot on a cross sent toward the top of the box.

Takawira added another goal in the 25th minute and Anthony Markanich, Nick’s twin brother, made a run up top from his left back position and scored to finish off the first-half burst.

There was a little drama in the second half, as backup goalkeeper Kyle Orciuch received a red card on a foul after a giveaway. Cleveland converted a penalty kick to make it 4-1.

Down to 10 men, the Fire still added two more goals, as Sebastian Padua and Paul Fulop both scored to cap the rout.

And cap a good weekend overall for all three teams.

As Victor Fernandez put it, all three teams needed points, and all three got some.

“They came out with 14 out of 18 points for the weekend, which is pretty good,” he said.

All three teams are back in action this Sunday when they visit Chicago Magic at College of DuPage. 

Chicago Fire U-18s vs. Chicago Magic U-18s - 11:00am CT
Chicago Fire U-16s vs. Chicago Magic U-16s - 1:00pm CT
Chicago Fire U-14s vs. Chicago Magic U-14s - 3:00pm CT