Chicago Fire U-16s fall to Aspire Qatar despite a strong performance in AlKass International Cup

The Chicago Fire U-16 Academy side put in a strong performance but ultimately fell 1-0 to hosts Aspire Qatar in their opening match of the 2014 Al Kass International Cup on Tuesday in Doha.
Leading into the game, the pre-game commentators didn’t seem to give the Fire much of a chance against the favored hosts but save for an errant pass at the back  in the 14th minute that led to the game’s only goal, the Fire U-16 side showed well in defeat, even dominating possession for swaths of the first and second half.
“We started sloppy with our nerves apparent,” Academy Director Larry Sunderland said. “Aspire played with great desire early on - clearly with something to prove.”

Still, somewhat comically, the official tournament website described the play leading to the goal as a “ten-pass sequence”, but trust me when I say, this wasn’t the case.
“After the goal we began to connect passes through the middle of the park allowing our wide players to isolate on the backs,” Sunderland continued. “We created some quality looks heading into the half and it seemed we would get the goal back in time.”
After the half the Fire recommitted to possession, brought the front line up higher and looked to get in behind a bit quicker.
The result was the majority of possession and greater pressure on Aspire and a very quality scoring chance in the 69th minute when Liam Fraser picked out Jacob Montes who put his header off the bar.
“In the end, while our quality through the middle of the park and final third entries enabled us to dictate play, we couldn’t find the final pass that would lead to the tying goal.”
Sunderland pointed to solid play from Jack Shaw and Aiden Daniels while Malik Johnston proved dangerous. Younger players David Portugal was quite good off the bench and Ramon Rosas (99) was solid on the night.
The Fire U-16 Academy can still advance from their group but will likely need a win in Wednesday’s finale vs. Manchester City. Catch the game live at 10:40am CT via