Two Chicago Fire Academy teams matched each other in a good way this past weekend: one close win, one big win. Another lost two matches but did come much closer in its second match.
The U18s and U14s both went 2-0, beating Michigan-based sides Vardar and the Crew Soccer Academy Wolves (Ohio). The U16s lost big to Vardar on Saturday, but did regroup to only fall 1-0 to the Crew on Sunday.
U18s get two well-earned wins
The U18s dominated Vardar early in a 4-0 win Saturday, then beat the Wolves 2-1 on Sunday in the best game of the weekend.
Collin Fernandez scored the first two goals in the win against Vardar, the first coming just a few minutes into the match to set the tone.
Two subs came on to make an impact, as well. Qudos Lawal knocked in a goal, and Daniel Hayes scored with about 10 minutes left for the final margin.
In a thriller against the Wolves the following day, Jeff Farina put in the game-winner in the 83rd minute, knocking in a James Myall cross.
That was about nine minutes after Lawal came up big again, scoring off a cross from Alex Underwood.
The Fire went down 1-0 in the opening minutes but fought back.
They now sit 7-1-3, second in the Mid-America Division.
“I thought the 18s had a very good weekend,” coach Larry Sunderland said. “They looked sharp throughout.”
U16s battle but fall twice
The U16s got off to a tough start to the weekend with a 5-1 loss to Vardar on Saturday, but showed themselves better in a 1-0 loss to the Wolves on Sunday.
Luis St. John scored the Fire's only goal Saturday.
On Sunday, Ben Rhoder created several chances, but the Fire couldn't break through. A turnover in the back led to a breakaway and score in the 72nd minute.
Goalkeeper Jacob Rooth kept the Fire in the match with several big saves, but his team came up short.
The Fire U16s are now 3-5-3, tied for eighth in the Mid-American Division.
U14s continue to roll
The U14s continued to impress, dominating Vardar in a 6-1 win Saturday before getting a 1-0 win over the Wolves in a well-played game Sunday.
Against Vardar, Vitalis Takawira Jr. and Adrian Ortega both scored twice, all within the first 24 minutes in a blowout win.
Paul Fulop added two goals in the second half to cement the victory.
On Sunday, the U14s took another thriller. David Gorniak got enough of his foot on the ball during a scramble in the box to knock in a first-half goal which proved to be enough.
Goalkeeper Kyle Orciuch earned the shutout, with defenders Alfredo Guzman, Manual Cerriots and Nick Markanich also helping.
"The 14s are looking quite sharp and continued their undefeated run through the Development Academy fall season," said Sunderland.
All three teams host Sockers FC, another Chicago area team, on Saturday with the U18s kicking off at 10:00am, U15s at 12:30pm and U14s at 2:30pm.
The U16s and U18s will then prep for the annual USSFDA Winter Showcase to be held December 11-15 in Sarasota, Fla.
Wednesday, December 11
Chicago Fire U18s vs. Vancouver Whitecaps U18s – 11:15am CT
Thursday, December 12
Chicago Fire U18s vs. Players Development Academy – 9:00am CT
Chicago Fire U16s vs. Vancouver Whitecaps U16s – 2:30pm CT
Friday, December 13
Chicago Fire U16s vs. Real Salt Lake AZ U16s – 9:00am CT
Saturday, December 14
Chicago Fire U18s vs. LA Galaxy U18s – 8:00am CT
Sunday, December 15
Chicago Fire U16s vs. Real So Call U16s – 8:00am CT