The Chicago Fire Premier team defeated the Iowa Menace 1-0 last night in the 1st Round of the U.S. Open Cup. Chris Estridge provided the heroics when he went on a long run in the 87th minute and scored an unassisted goal. The only way to follow the game was through the Twitter accounts of the Des Moines Menace (little explanation on Des Moines Menace vs. Iowa Menace at the link) and Chicago Fire Premier. The game read like an even back and forth and the Twitter accounts usually matched up although hilarity abounded when they would each take their own unique twist on just how threatening a situation was. Chicago Fire Premier's opponent next week is the Madison 56ers who dominated Chicago based AAC Eagles 4-0 with all four goals coming after the 67th minute of play. Wisconsin Soccer's Twitter account was the only way to follow that game and it might just be the only solution for next Tuesday's game as well.
It is not too far fetched to go to check out the action next week that will be located at Breese Stevens Field in Madison, WI. Google maps clocks the trip at just a little under 3 hours from Chicago and some fans are already making plans. Kick-off is on Tuesday, June 21st at 7:00 PM so obviously there won't be a groundswell of supporters but there you have it. For some more information on the other battles in USOC play, Chris Estridge, and why you should care about the Chicago Fire Premier team in the first place is after the break.
First things first, there's no better place for USOC coverage than TheCup.us. Last night the site featured a live chat and an updated scoreboard keeping tabs on all 16 1st Round matches. They have a full bracket, a map that shows the teams from across the country, and other feature stories, news, and updates. One of the best stories from last night was the Harrisburg City Islanders coming back from being down 1-0 in the 85th minute to defeat the Philadelphia Union's PDL partner, Reading United, 2-1. The player who scored the first goal for Harrisburg was native son JT Noone, a player the Union signed last year and never used. Noone was released by the Union just prior to the 2011 season and quickly signed with his hometown Harrisburg club.
Now even if you are familiar with the Chicago Fire Premier concept, you might dismiss the highest level of PDL/U-23 as unnecessary. I have felt that way in the past when I read about players like Ricardo Clark, Jay DeMerit, Eric Lichaj, Drew Moor, Seth Sinovic, Jonathan Spector, and many others that have played with the Chicago Fire PDL team but have never played a single game for the Chicago Fire MLS squad. A recent change to Major League Soccer and NCAA rules allow MLS teams to keep 'dibs' on a college player throughout their collegiate career. This rule will get the full treatment in the future but basically the Fire now have right of first refusal to sign players that come through their PDL system and want to enter the MLS Draft. A player like last night's game-winning scorer Chris Estridge is lighting up the PDL scorecard this year with 4 goals in 6 games. That's not even counting last night's tally. Estridge is going to be a senior this year at Indiana University and things are pointing to a potential breakout year. If everything goes right, we might just see him in MLS Chicago Fire red next year.
That's just one of the reasons to get out and support the PDL team if you get the chance. In the past it was a 'who knows' if these guys will play for the Fire but now it's more like going to a minor league baseball game. You are getting a chance to see potential players for the Chicago Fire Soccer Club. Give them a like on Facebook. Give them a follow on Twitter. Give them a read on their website. Congratulations to the Chicago Fire PDL team and here's to a deep run in the U.S. Open Cup Tournament.