The Chicago Fire finished a disappointing 5th place in the Central Conference last season. Probably more disappointing for Fire fans and coaches is that they fell behind rivals Chicago Magic PSG and sister-club Indiana Fire Academy. However, with loads of talent making it’s way up the Academy ladder, it should not be long before we see the Fire amongst the USSDA’s finest teams.
Atop the talent pool is Notre Dame striker commit Jeffrey Farina (’95). The lanky forward has been one of the more prolific strikers in USSDA play each of the last two seasons scoring 11 and 17 goals in each of his last two campaigns. With strike partner Marcus Epps (’95) gone to USF, Farina will be looked to carry the load up front, something he is more than capable of doing.
Joining Farina back with the U18s is Indiana commit Grant Lillard (’95). Lillard is a tidy midfielder and could likely captain the Fire squad. Also back are outside defenders James Myall (’95) and Bay Kurtz (’95). They will pair with U16 promotee’s Andrew Gutman (’96) and Michael Jimenez (’96) who is one of the more under-rated defenders in the nation. A solid season from Jimenez will likely draw some professional interest from MLS and south of the border. They’ll play in front of talent former Fire U16 shot-stopper Sawyer Jackman (’96).
Also coming up from the U16s are Martin Alba (’96), Luca Giovane (’96) and Alex Underwood (’96) who will all be called on to add punch to the Fire attack. Alba is a crafty creator and should be called on to pull the strings this season. The Fire also welcome talented Vardar SC Frieburg U16er Bradley Dunwell (’96). Dunwell will likely see instant playing time. Also be on the look out for Qudus Lawal (’95). Lawal is a bit of a wild-card but could be a vital part of the Fire attack
The U16 squad will be lead by uber-talented ’97 usynt Collin Fernandez. Fernandez is a classy midfielder who has been a rock in US youth squads for years. He is good going forward and has a great soccer brain.
Joining Fernandez will be ’97 usynt Rogioberto Rojas. Rojas recently joined Chicago Fire Academy after turning down a number of offers from Mexican youth teams. Rojas stated to OWTY that he has made US youth teams a priority and a main reason he joined up with a USSDA club. Rojas is a large striker with tremendous skills. Do not be surprised if he leads all USSDA U15/16 division in scoring.
Solid performers ’97 usynt Shannon Seymour and Mauricio Pineda (’97) are two of the better defenders at this level. Jack Shaw (’98) is another name to watch with the U15/16s.
Chicago Fire is no slouch when it comes to producing some of the nations top players at the U14 level and this year will be no different. The Markanich brothers, Anthony (’99) and Nick (’99) lead the U13/14 along with David Portugal. Anthony Markanich was apart of the id2 program in 2013. Also talented youths Vitalis Takawira (’99), Adrian Ortega (’99) and Sebastian Padua (’99) and Andrew Akindele (’00) should also be monitored by US scouts.
Academy Star: Collin Fernandez (’97)
Academy Talisman: Grant Lillard (’95)
Academy Prospect: Anthony Markanich (’99)