U-15 Chicago Fire Academy Named MLS NEXT Cup Champions with 3-1 Win against LA Galaxy


Nashville, Tenn. (June 23, 2024) – The U-15 Chicago Fire Academy came from behind to defeat the LA Galaxy Academy, 3-1, to win the 2024 U-15 MLS NEXT Cup at GEODIS Park in Nashville, Tenn. on Sunday afternoon. Additionally, forward Darris Hyte was named 2024 U-15 MLS NEXT Cup Most Valuable Player and goalkeeper Alexander Ivanov was named U-15 Goalkeeper of the Tournament.

It is the fourth national title for the Chicago Fire Academy, and the first since the U-19 Chicago Fire Academy team claimed the inaugural 2021 MLS NEXT Cup against Solar SC. The Club previously won the U-17/18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy national championship in 2015 and the U-15/16 U.S. Soccer Development Academy title in 2010.

Head Coach Selim Talbi’s side started off on the attack, with Hyte getting a look at goal in the fifth minute from just outside the 18-yard box. Hyte’s shot was on frame, but read and saved by LA Galaxy goalkeeper Max Nelson.

LA struck first, however, when Max Steelman and Aaron Medina connected in the 11th minute. Steelman collected the ball on the right side and sent in a cross to the top of the six-yard box that Medina headed into the net.

Chicago maintained their composure, getting into dangerous positions on the attack. In the 23rd minute, forward Aaron Jimenez collected the ball at the top of the Galaxy’s box and turned inside before being taken down by the LA defense. The referee pointed to the spot, and James Field stepped up to take the spot kick. Field sent his shot to the lower left corner, sneaking it past Nelson to level the score.

The Fire started strong after the halftime break, combining to get into the box and score a second goal in the 44th minute. Robert Turdean did well to hold the ball on the right side, working to play it up for Emiliano Chavez running up the flank. Chavez sent a ball back across the box where Aaron Jimenez let it run through his legs for Christopher Morales. The midfielder was waiting, taking his time to place his shot into the lower left corner of the goal to put Chicago ahead.

Ivanov and defender Denzel Palacios worked together to keep LA from scoring a second in the 54th minute when Asahel Cristobal shot to the near post from close range. Ivanov reacted to make the kick-save, sending the ball into the air. The ball was headed toward the goal but Palacios did well to get back and head the ball off the line and out of danger.

Hyte put the game to bed in the 80+3rd minute. Turdean slipped him behind the defense from just behind the midfield line and Hyte took off, carrying the ball down the field. He shifted to shrug off his defender as the LA goalkeeper came off his line. Hyte maintained his composure, rounding the goalkeeper to his right and slotting the ball into the open net.

In their previous four matches, the U-15 Academy has marched through some of the most competitive academies in the United States. Defeating independent academies Intercontinental FC and San Francisco Glens in the opening rounds of the tournament.

In the MLS NEXT Cup quarterfinals, the Fire hosted Orlando City SC. After back-to-back heroic stops, goalkeeper Ivanov would help to guide Chicago to the semifinals. On June 20, the Fire took on FC Cincinnati for a chance to play in the championship match. After conceding a goal in the second minute of play, the Fire would take control of the match soon thereafter. Following a brace from Hyte, and another tally from Emiliano Chavez, the Fire defeated Cincinnati 3-1 to clinch a spot in the championship match.