March 3, 2012

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DA Wrap: Chicago Fire academy teams win Development Academy Carolina Challenge

29 Feb, 2012

By Jimmy LaRoue

The Chicago Fire Development Academy teams swept the 2012 Development Academy Carolina Challenge Cup, winning in both the U16 and U18 age brackets.

Six clubs brought 12 teams in the U-16 and U-18 age groups, including the South Carolina United Battery, Columbus Crew, Indiana United Fire, D.C. United, the New York Red Bulls and Chicago.

The Fire’s U18s won twice and played to a scoreless tie with D.C. United, scoring five goals on the way to the Challenge Cup title. The New York Red Bulls’ U-18 team finished second with a 2-1-0 mark, scoring five goals in the tournament while conceding three. United, while undefeated in the tournament, finished third with one win and two ties.

In Sunday’s match with D.C. United, the Fire’s U-18 squad had first half opportunities set up by Elliot Borge, whose 12th minute cross was headed just over the crossbar, and 20 minutes later found Drew Conner down the right sideline. Connor played the ball into the box for striker Kellen Gulley, whose one-time effort to the left corner was saved with a sprawling effort from United goalkeeper Sam Legg.

Just before the half, left winger Chisom Ogbanna picked out Jesus Medina at the back post, but Medina’s one-timer struck the post.

United pressured more in the second half, but neither team could score. The Fire U-18s closed out their trip with a win Monday against South Carolina United Battery.

D.C. United’s U-18s opened with a 2-2 draw with Indiana United Fire. Sebastian Cahe gave D.C. United the lead, but Indiana struck back for two goals to take a 2-1 lead before left back Patrick Foss converted a penalty to earn the tie.

After the scoreless draw Sunday, 10-man D.C. United picked up a 3-2 win over Columbus Crew, getting two goals from Jannik Eckenrode and another penalty conversion from Foss.

“The Charleston trip was an ideal way to prepare for the Academy season,” said United U-18 coach Nolan Sheldon in a release. “We played against a very accomplished Academy team in Indiana United and two good MLS clubs, such as Chicago Fire and Columbus Crew. We were very pleased with the level of our play and look forward to our match on March 10 against New England Revolution.”

The Fire’s U-16s won all three of its games, outscoring its opponents 6-1. D.C. United, Indiana United Fire and S.C. United Battery all finished 1-1-1, with D.C. United taking second on goal differential.

United’s U-16s tied their opening match 2-2 with Indiana United Fire, with Cristhyan Najar and Ian Harkes scoring the goals and Nigel Robinson tallying both assists.

The Fire U-16s beat D.C. United in Sunday’s match, with the Fire’s Marcus Epps scoring off a set piece in the 88th minute.

D.C. United’s U-16s rallied in game three, earning a 3-0 victory over Columbus Crew. Robinson gave the 1-0 lead to United in the 41st minute, connecting a corner kick-cross from Harkes. Michael Seaton assisted Robert Palmer for United’s second goal, while James Moreno buried the third and final tally for D.C.

“We were extremely happy with the improvement of the play from game to game,” said United U-16 coach Tom Torres. “Closing out the preseason by playing quality soccer was the goal. We have a couple of weeks to clean some things up and get a bit more organized, but the trip was a huge success.”

This is the second year of the Development Academy Carolina Challenge Cup, run in conjunction with the senior competition. For 2012, the tournament field was expanded to six clubs and twelve teams with 18 games over the four days of the competition.

In the senior competition, United defeated Chicago 1-0 Saturday, while Charleston tied Columbus 2-2.

In Wednesday’s games, Charleston plays D.C. United, while Columbus and Chicago square off. The event concludes Saturday with D.C. United playing Columbus, and Chicago playing Charleston in the tournament finale.

Final standings – Development Academy Carolina Challenge Cup

1. Chicago Fire 3-0-0 GF: 6, GA: 1; Pts. 9
2. D.C. United 1-1-1 GF: 4, GA: 3, Pts. 4
3. Indiana United Fire 1-1-1 GF: 5, GA: 5, Pts. 4
4. S.C. United Battery 1-1-1 GF: 2, GA: 3, Pts. 4
5. Columbus Crew 0-1-2 GF: 0, GA: 2, Pts. 2
6. N.Y. Red Bulls 0-2-1 GF: 2, GA: 5, Pts. 1

1. Chicago Fire 2-0-1 GF: 5, GA: 0, Pts. 7
2. N.Y. Red Bulls 2-1-0 GF: 5, GA: 3, Pts. 6
3. D.C. United 1-0-2 GF: 5, GA: 4, Pts. 5
4. Columbus Crew 1-2-0 GF: 5, GA: 7, Pts. 3
5. S.C. United Battery 1-2-0 GF: 4, GA: 3, Pts. 3
6. Indiana United Fire 0-2-1 GF: 3, GA: 7, Pts. 1

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