Few clubs have earned the respect that Chicago Magic has over the years. They are one of the most prestigious clubs in the midwest. Hence the appeal of French giants PSG to sign a partnership with the club from the windy-city. The PSG partnership is not the only partnership that has paid dividends for the club. Their involvement with Florida powerhouse FC America has lead to a number of the nation’s top players moving to Chicago to play for the Magic.
Last season’s U15/16 Central Conference Player of the Year went to ’97 usynt Abuchi Obinwa. Impressive as Obinwa was it is important to note that he was a ’97 playing in a league made up of mostly ’96s. Obinwa’s class shined through despite no gaudy stat line. Obinwa made the switch to the Magic after playing in Florida for the FC America club, a move that has paid dividends as Obinwa is now a staple as one of the top prospects in the USSDA as well as US Soccer.
This season Obinwa is joined on the U15/16 roster by three other top players from around the country. Former Chivas USA U16 stand-out and ’97 usynt orchestrator Alejandro Vergara has made the jump, as has 97 usynt striker David Villegas from Northern California. Lastly, the Magic again will benefit from the loaded FC America program, this time in the form of one of the top defenders in the nation in ’97 usynt Tommy Redding. Redding has been a target of a number top European clubs. He has captained the US U17 squad, and was stellar in the US U17’s efforts to qualify for the U17 World Cup playing with ’96s.
The quartet of Obinwa, Vergara, Villegas and Redding is as impressive as it is young. All are currently listed on the clubs U16 roster. Do not be shocked however if the four are eventually called up to the U18s.
Speaking of the U18s, they welcome the one of the fastest growing names in US Soccer in ’96 usynt Andrija Novakovich. Novakovich went from dominating High School soccer a few years ago to representing the US internationally. Novakovich notched 22 goals last season and will undoubtedly lead the line for the Magic this year.
Novakovich will be joined by Wisconsin commit Michael Catalano (’95) and Christian Henock (’95) both of whom saw extended action last season with the U18s. A number of key midfielders return for the Magic including Dzenan Nezirevic (’95) who has long been on the cusp of a US call-up. Nezirevic is a technical wizard and will pull the strings along with Ruben Sanchez (’96). Look for contributions from Brandon Evan (’95), Luis Arellano (’95) and Renato Albuquerque (’95) in and around the midfield and attack.
The defense lost a steady goalkeeper in Andrew Punta to UIC, but does return a number of starting players on the backline. Leading the squad is center back Danny Kelly (’95) and fullback Brian Kane (’95). The pair played nearly every minute for the Magic last season. They will be joined by U16 defender Brian Munoz (’96) who is an excellent and composed Central Defender. Francesco Moore (’95) started nearly every match last season for the U18s and can play anywhere in the midfield or defense. Also look for Allan Sexius (’96) and Vaso Dragicevic (’96) to break-through this season. They’ll play in front of promoted U16 goalkeeper Elliott Rubio (’96). The 6’4” goalkeeper joins the already imposing and talented defense.
The U16 roster is so impressive that it has taken me this long to bring up one of their top stars in ’98 usynt striker turned defender Elijah Rice. Rice played up two years last season and netted 8 goals. Rice has accepted a US Residency invitation and will not suit up for the Magic this season. Despite his loss the addition of Vergara, Redding and Villegas is so impressive that the Magic will top my list of teams in the U15/16 division. Add in talented wing-back ’98 usynt Luka Prpa, midfielders Calum Bshop (’97), Jesus Perez (’97) and Fredi Ortega (’97) and you have one talented roster, poised to make noise.
The Magic will trot out one of the top U13/14 squads as well led by talented ’99 usynt Jose Alfaro and Alan Salmeron. Also hearing good things about Parker Domschke (’99) and Anthony Saporito (’00). It’s worth mentioning that the Chicago Magic PSG ’01s are representing America in the Danone Nation’s Cup. They’ve beaten the Czech Republic and Chinese teams and will square off against the Brazilian representative in the quarter finals.
Academy Star: ’97 Abuchi Obinwa
Academy Talisman: ’95 Dzenan Nezirevic
Academy Prospect: ’99 Jose Alfaro