CHICAGO (August 15, 2023) - The Chicago Fire Academy returned to action in their first week of preseason as they prepare for the upcoming MLS NEXT regular season. Since the conclusion of their season this previous May, the Fire Academy returned with preseason competition taking place in St. Louis, Missouri, and in Harrison, New Jersey.
The newest members of the Fire Academy kicked off the preseason slate with a 6-1 victory over the Lou Fusz Academy. Leading the way for the Fire was Griffin Brill, who recorded a hat-trick and an assist en route to the first win of the preseason for Chicago. Also contributing on the scoresheet were Oscar Trujillo, Graham Dixon and Markas Steponavicius, who would each score a goal in the six-goal performance.
In their second match of the weekend, the Fire fell to Scott Gallagher Academy, 4-1. Scoring the lone goal for Chicago was Owen Fried, with the assist from Jensyn Goranson.
For the U-14's, they would open up their preseason set of games with a 7-1 rout over the Lou Fusz Academy. A brace from Michael Gomez and a tally from Edgar Campos off a penalty would highlight the victory for Chicago. Caleb Aleman also recorded his first of the preseason, with Finn McCraney and Anthony Vega rounding out the rest of the goals for the Fire. Gomez, McCraney, and Campos would also contribute to the victory with assists of their own. Nathan Panduro and George Valenti would also record assists in the win.
In their second preseason game the Fire would draw 3-3 with St. Louis Scott Gallagher. Aleman opened the scoring for the Fire, followed by goals from Anthony Xavi Cervantes and Michael Gomez. Panduro would register two more assists in the second matchup of the weekend, and Christopher Morales registered an assist of his own.
The U-15 Academy team opened their preseason campaign with a 3-2 win over the New York Red Bulls Academy. Nolan Weiss opened the scoring for the Fire followed by a penalty converted by Hugo Berg. Darris Hyte sealed the victory for the Fire with his game-winning goal. Kristopher Caravantes registered the lone assist of the match on Weiss’s opening goal.
The following day, the U-15's would pick up another 3-2 win, this time against the Cedar Stars. Aman Alakhramsing opened the scoring for the Fire, with Denzel Palacios assisting on the goal. Palacios would contribute again after assisting on Hyte’s second of the preseason. Leon Smars would grab the game-winning goal for the Fire after a pass from Emmett Kessler found Smars who finished on the opportunity to lift Chicago to another win.
The U-17 Academy recorded their first win of the preseason with a 3-0 win against Cedar Stars. Aaron Ineh scored the opening tally for the U-17's with Daven Arias recording the assist. Vitaliy Hlyut and Aaron Ineh would go on to grab the additional two goals to give the Fire a clean sheet victory in their lone match of the weekend.
The oldest members of the Chicago Fire Academy returned to preseason action with a 4-4 draw against St. Louis Scott Gallagher. A pair of braces from Michael Nesci and Charlie Heuer would highlight the draw. Nesci also contributed to the result with an assist on one of Heuer’s tallies. Kamden Held and Michael Ramirez would each register an assist to open the preseason slate.
The following day, the Fire would grab their first victory of the preseason with a 6-0 rout against the Lou Fusz Academy. Nesci was the story of the match, registering a hat-trick and two assists in the six-goal victory. Heuer picked up his third goal of the weekend, followed by a goal from Ramirez and Dylan Borso to round out the victory. Borso, along with Peter Soudan and Carlos Nevarez, each registered assists in the win.