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2013 McGuire Cup Preview | Chicago Fire Academy (IL)


Region II - Chicago Fire Academy (IL)

How they got to Nationals
Much of the players on the Chicago Fire Academy (IL) have been together under coach Larry Sunderland for some time, but this will be their first taste of the US Youth Soccer National Championships.
With much of the squad already in college, Sunderland said the team enjoys any chance it gets to come back together and play. Now, the Fire will be looking to work together to win the oldest trophy in youth sports — the McGuire Cup.
After advancing as Illinois state champions, the Fire ran into some difficulties at the US Youth Soccer Region II Championships. Some injuries, along with several games against tough competition tested the Illinois side as it played for a spot in Overland Park.
The Fire got off to a good start in Des Moines, Iowa, with two dominant wins to begin the tournament. However, a 1-0 loss to NFC 93/94 Blue (NE) in the final preliminary game left the Fire sitting in second place in Group C. Fortunately for Chicago, the decisive early wins helped the Fire move through to the semifinals on goal differential.
After a tight 2-1 win in the regional semifinals, the Fire advanced to the championship game for a rematch against NFC. Chicago jumped out to an early lead on Chisom Ogbanna goal in the 7th minute and added a 90th-minute tally by Jourdan Gooden to win, 2-0, and take the Region II title.
The Fire is now one of four squads with the chance to play for the coveted McGuire Cup. Sunderland said it would be an honor to win the title, and he can remember going to the McGuire Cup when he was a kid and getting autographs from the players after the game.
It’s now his players that will be impressing young viewers as they vie for the trophy, and they’re aware of what it would mean to lift it as champions.
"They know the significance of the McGuire Cup," Sunderland said of his players. "They do know the history of the McGuire Cup. That’s one of the reason we entered it because there is such a great history and tradition. I think it should be one of the most important championships in the United States."
RII_U19B Chicago Fire Academy (IL)
Team Strength
Sunderland said his team’s strength comes from its style of play and ability to keep possession. "We play good soccer. For us, it’s not about winning. We’re happy we’re successful, but in the end for us it’s about playing good soccer," he said. "…Our strength is definitely our style of play, our ability to keep the ball and kick the ball around."
Key Players
Center back Anthony Torres is recovering from a broken foot. If he can play, Sunderland said Torres is a key defender who plays with intelligence and composure. The coach also highlighted Andrew Conner’s ability to keep the ball and act as a playmaker from his center midfield spot. Up top, the Fire is led by Joey Calistri, who led Northwestern University in goals as a freshman.
College Programs
Zachary Allen – Northwestern
Joseph Calistri – Northwestern
Manuel Chavez – University of Illinois at Chicago
Andrew Conner – Wisconsin
Marcus Epps – South Florida
Michael Frasca – Dayton
Jourdan Gooden – Florida Gulf Coast
Michael Kozielek – DePaul
Benjamin Kucera – Creighton
Daniel Lojek – Notre Dame
Jesus Medina – Oakton Community College
Chisom Ogbanna – Robert Morris (Ill.)
Joel Salmeron – University of Illinois at Chicago
Reid Strain – Indianapolis
Anthony Torres – Belmont
Parker Victor – Gonzaga
Travis Wannemuehler – Indiana
Tanner Witsken – Butler
Coach Background – Larry Sunderland

Playing experience
o   New York Express of the Major Indoor Soccer League
o   Milwaukee Wave of the National Professional Soccer League
o   Chicago Power – Part of the 1990-91 championship team
Coaching experience
o   Technical Director/Head Coach of the Chicago Fire youth club
o   USSF ‘A’ License and USSF National Youth License
o   NSCAA Advanced National Diploma
o   Joined the USSF National Instructional Staff in 2000 and the NSCAA Associate
o   National Staff in 2002
o   US Youth Soccer ODP coach for Region II, Illinois and Wisconsin teams
Chicago Fire Academy Schedule
Tuesday, July 23
9:30 a.m.
vs. Pateadores ANA
Field 1
Wednesday, July 24
10:30 a.m.
vs. Plantation Copa
Field 6
Friday, July 26
9:30 a.m.
vs. Lehigh Valley United 93
Field 7
Saturday, July 27
6:30 p.m.
McGuire Cup Final
Field 1