The Chicago Fire U16's lost 1-0 to Aspire Qatar to open up the Al Kass International Cup in Doha, Qatar. Both teams were evenly matched throughout the game according to reports with the Fire having a fair share of scoring chances.
Aspire Qatar scored early on a sloppy play in the 18th minute and that was the sole goal of the game.
Giveaway at the back sees Aspire Qatar forward run on to a loose ball, round the keeper and slot into the empty net. #cf97 trail 1-0— Jeff Crandall (@jefecrandall) January 14, 2014
Academy Director Larry Sunderland recognized the slow start by saying that "we started sloppy with our nerves apparent" but he was pleased with how the team responded to the goal. He thought that the team "created some quality looks heading into the half."
Malik Johnnson was reportedly a stand out on the left flank during the game and came close to leveling the score in the first half when he was one-on-one with the keeper. Only a sliding challenge from an Aspire Qatar player kept the Fire from scoring. Jack Shaw, Aiden Daniels, David Portugal and Ramon Rosas were picked out by Sunderland and Jeff Crandall for having good performances in the game.
In the second half, the Fire pressed up higher and tried to attack more quickly. The pressure almost paid off when in the 69th minute, Jacob Montes headed Liam Scott Fraser's cross onto the post but that was the last big chance that they had.
The game ended in 1-0 defeat. Now the U16's have to move on quickly because they face Manchester City on Wednesday.
98 @ChiFireAcademy fall to Aspire Academy 1-0 in opening game of Al Kass Tournament. Fire return to action tomorrow against Manchester City.— Chicago Fire Academy (@ChiFireAcademy) January 14, 2014
In the press conference after the game, Larry Sunderland said, "We are trying to develop our players for the domestic league and the Chicago Fire. This is the best way to do it, to be in situations like this." He also added that it benefits the U16's "to play under pressure against some of the best young players in the world."
If you are interested in watching the U16's play Manchester City, the game is at 10:40 am CT and you can watch it via a link from http://www.alkassinternationalcup.com.