Chicago Fire Juniors South (IL) earns scrappy 2-1 win


Chicago Fire Juniors South (IL) defeated Dix Hills Elite (NY-E) 2-1 to claim an important three points in 19/20U Boys Group A play. The win gives Chicago four points in group play, placing them in second place which puts them in a great spot to advance into the knockout round.

“With the birth year all of these guys are almost playing a year up here,” said Chicago Fire head coach Mike Skupien. “So it’s amazing for them to come to Nationals and have four points after two games.”

Chicago started the game by weathering a fierce Dix Hills attack. The Eastern New York side controlled most of the possession creating multiple chances to take the lead early. The early pressure led to a great Dix hills chance but Riley Sullivan’s curling effort from the left side of the box went just beyond the upper right corner. Dix Hills kept pounding away but a defensive miscue led to the Fire’s first great opportunity of the game which was shot harmlessly over the crossbar.

Chicago gained a man advantage in the second half and seemed to gain momentum but Dix Hills kept pushing and saw a great chance pulled just wide left. The deadlock finally broke in the 80th minute, with Chicago making use of the extra space on the field to play some great combination passing to create its chance. After working the ball down the field, Christopher Sullivan slipped a pass into Elijah Monjaras who slid his shot past the fully stretched Dix Hills keeper.

With Dix Hills needing at least a tie to stay in the hunt, they pushed for an equalized and were awarded a penalty kick for a hand ball in the box. Brian Flynn stepped up and buried his chance into the upper left corner of the net to tie the game.

After the ensuing kickoff, it took Chicago Fire less than 60 seconds to regain its advantage. Chicago got the ball deep into the Dix Hills end and hit a shot that was saved by the Dix Hills keeper. The rebound bounced in a group in front of the goal and then was smashed home close range by Nicholas Markanich.

Dix Hills pushed everyone forward at the end, including the goalkeeper, as it earned multiple corner kicks in the final minutes but couldn’t convert. With the final whistle, Chicago Fire stays alive in the pursuit of the 19/20U Boys James. P McGuire Cup.

After the game, Skupien talked about the difficulty of the competition here and how playing in the US Youth National League has helped prepare them for this stage and the chance to compete for the McGuire Cup.

“We were lucky to play in the National League the past two years as every single one of those games is an absolute grind and here it’s even more so,” continued Skupien. “Every game, every five minutes, every 50-50 is an absolute battle here.  To be high school kids, competing at this level and to have a chance to compete for the McGuire Cup is the best experience these boys could ask for.”