We last checked in with the U.S. Soccer Development Academy back in mid-November when the season was just about to start. Now the Chicago Fire and Chicago Magic teams have played 7 games each and Sockers FC teams have played 5. All US Soccer Development Academies are now on a break until April 2nd or aka when the weather gets better. We'll have analysis on each local academy over the next couple of days and first up we have the Chicago Fire teams. The Fire received a HUGE boost today as Soccer America Daily ranked the academy 7th in the country and 1st above all other MLS academies. Columbus Crew and New York Red Bulls were ranked 8th and 9th respectively but the next closest club was FC Dallas at 18th. These things are arbitrary and greatness across the board doesn't mean much if the players are all B+ and another team has two A+ players who can contribute to the MLS team and the rest of the academy is all C+ players but it is a nice honor nevertheless. Congratulations to the Chicago Fire Academy! Just don't rest on your laurels now...
More on how this season is going after the break
Chicago Fire Academy
Chicago Fire U-15/16 - 4-1-2
Chicago Fire U-17/18 - 4-1-2
Obviously the Chicago Fire have a professional staff to write stories on their academy teams and sometimes they even link to MLS articles that talk about academy changes or highlight academy individuals. For that reason I have a cavalcade of links to share with you that trace back to our last academy update. These updates will be more rapid and 'of the moment' in the future but for now this is a bit of a catch-all post.
November 16, 2010, Fire Academy Update: The teams opened with wins and combined with the U-14s, went 5-0-1 over 3 games versus new to the league Shattuck-St. Mary's Soccer Academy and 3 games against the Minnesota Thunder Academy. The update also goes into detail on why Victor Pineda is able to still play in some academy games despite being a member of the Chicago Fire main squad.
November 23, 2010, Jeff Crandall went All-In with John Dorn, Chicago Fire Director of Player Development: It's a great listen and almost 40 minutes long.
December 3, 2010, U-13/14s finish second in Disney Showcase: The U-13/14 team plays in tournaments and exhibitions because the U.S. Soccer Development Academy doesn't have a sanctioned league for this age group. Showcases like the Disney Showcase are a big deal for this reason and it was impressive for the U-13/14s to wind up in the championship game even if they didn't win it all.
December 3, 2010, Development Academy Showcase Underway: On the other side of the coin, the U-15/16 and U-17/18 teams have a league to play in but that doesn't stop them from participating in their own showcase tournaments. The U.S. Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase took place this past weekend in a gigantic soccer park where teams from all around the country converged. The Winter Showcase is one last opportunity for teams to get some games in before the break till April hits.
So far the goal stars of the Chicago Fire U-15/16 season have been Andrew Benjamin Conner, who has the instant nickname ABC, and Manuel Rios. Both players are currently tied for 3 goals. ABC has had the opportunity to start every game (playing time is not evenly distributed) and Rios has started 6 out of 7 but they each have taken advantage of their chances. ABC's most recent tally was a clutch 80th minute goal to tie the match 1-1 on Friday, December 3rd, against NJSA 04 U-15/16. Rios' last goal had a bit of drama too as he came in as a sub on Monday, December 6th and scored within two minutes of getting in the game. Jesus Medina is right behind the lead with 2 goals and Elliot Borge, Yacir Herrera and Francisco Sajuan have also found the back of the net once this season. I would love to tell you who got assists but U.S. Soccer Development Academy does not keep assist totals and we are currently working with the Fire on providing us with that information. All part of the stats push here at HTIOT.
Chicago Fire U-17/18 have been lead by their own Medina - Luis Medina. He and Jacob Brindle lead the team with two goals each but they have scored with different styles. While Medina has started all seven games, Brindle has appeared in six and only started in three. For more opposites, Brindle is listed at 6'1 while Medina is listed at 5'4. I'd take a McBride and Messi esque striker tandem, I hope they keep it up. Rounding out the goal scoring is Luis Barajas, Fillipe Cortez, Patrick Doody, Emanuel Guzman, Victor Pineda, and Brady Wahl who all have one goal. Again, tackles, saves, assists, I can't tell you. Robert Euler has started six of the seven games in goal for the U-17/18 team while Kyle Dal Santo and Christian Lomelli have split time in goal for the U-15/16 team.
I will say that the Chicago Fire have been great about giving updates on the academy games via their Twitter and Facebook page. If you aren't following them, be sure to change that right now. As much as I'm giving the U.S. Development Soccer Academy site trouble for not keeping track of stats... and a little bit on the Fire too, I think we can work together to make sure that info is out there in the future. As the editor of Hot Time In Old Town, I promise to make that happen not just as part of a 'statistics revolution' but also as part of a wish to give credit where it is due. Assists, tackles, and solid play are all part of a team effort and a strong academy is the backbone of any world class soccer organization. It's a slow road to the top but the beat goes on. Congratulations to all of the academy players and good luck training until April when your season kicks off again.
Next up, as part of our dedication to soccer in Chicago, academy wrap-ups for Chicago Magic and Sockers FC. Stay tuned.