Noah Kettle Dl

U-14, U-18 Academy sides pushing the top of U.S. Soccer Development Academy League

The Chicago Fire U-14 Academy side continued their unbeaten 2013/14 run this past weekend with a 2-0 win over Crew Academy Wolves (Michigan) on Saturday and 3-0 victory over Vardar (Michigan) on Sunday.

The results take the Fire U-14s to an overall 13-0-3 record on the campaign and make them one of the top U-14 sides in the country. The weekend wins were also achieved without the services of David Portugal who is currently in U.S. U-15 camp.

“While results are not the most important thing with the U-14's, we are very happy to say that playing ‘the Fire Way’ has resulted in our U-14 Academy team being one of only four undefeated teams in the USDA,” Academy Director Larry Sunderland said.

As Sunderland alluded to, the U.S. Soccer Development Academy does not keep standings for the U-14 age level but the team’s current record, joining the New York Red Bulls, Dallas Texans and Weston FC (FL), could put them in good standing for the Federation to choose the side as the DA’s representative at the Manchester United Youth Cup this summer.

“While we often recognize the individual talents on all of our teams, it is very important to say that the collective play of this group has been fantastic.”

Meanwhile, the Chicago Fire U-18 team also pulled two wins from the weekend, scoring matching 3-0 victories over the Crew Wolves (Saturday) and Vardar (Sunday)

On Saturday, Oscar Gonzalez hit a brace within six minutes (18’ and 24’) before Luca Giovine killed the game off late with an 81st minute strike.

On Sunday, Jeffrey Farina, Cameron Lindley and Shannon Seymour all tallied to give the side a 3-0 win  over Vardar. The weekend results keep the team atop the Mid-America Division with a 12-1-4 record.

“The 18's continue to dominate on the field,” said Sunderland. “Individually and as a collective unit they are among the top groups in the country. This team is loaded with young talent and is a special group that we expect great things from down the line.”

The Chicago Fire U-16s went 0-1-1 on the weekend, using a 49th minute goal from Louis St. John to pull a 1-1 draw with Crew Academy Wolves on Saturday before a narrow 1-0 defeat to Vardar on Sunday.

The results take the U-16s to a 4-8-5 record on the 2013/14 campaign. Despite the record, Sunderland said he’s seen tremendous growth in this squad over the course of the season.

“This group continues to rapidly improve,” he said. “The team is made up primarily of first year Academy players most of whom were born in 1998 and playing up a year and we see the pieces are beginning to come together.  This group controls most of the play as we continue to link up the phases of the game. Next for them is to become better around the opponents goal, something we're beginning to introduce in training now.  Once this happens, the results will begin to turn their way.”

All three Academy sides are back in action this weekend as they visit the Chicago Sockers at Nike Park Turf Field in Naperville, Ill. The U-18s clash Saturday at 11:30 am followed by the U-16s at 2:00pm. The U-14s face each other Sunday at 11:30am.