On Sunday night, the U.S. Under-20 Men’s Youth National Team will look to end their run through the Concacaf U-20 Championship with a championship win against the Dominican Republic.
Ahead of the match, Chicago Fire FC goalkeeper and U.S. U-20 starter Chris Brady spoke with members of the media about both his and the team’s performances so far, their outlook for Sunday’s championship match, and how it feels to have helped the U.S. qualify for the Summer Olympics for the first time since 2008.
“All eyes are on (Sunday),” Brady said. “We have a job to do. 90 minutes, 90 minutes plus, we have to take care of business and bring home some hardware for for the U.S. So me personally, I mean, I'm feeling pretty good, but job's not finished.”
Brady has started five of the U.S.’ six matches played in the tournament so far, only sitting during the team’s 10-0 tournament opening win over St. Kitts in the group play on June 18. In the five matches Brady has started since, the last four have been shutouts.
With their 3-0 semifinal win over Honduras in San Pedro Sula on Friday, the U.S. officially secured its qualification to the 2024 Summer Olympic Games in Paris. Being a key member of the team that ended the U.S.’s Olympic qualification drought is not lost on the 18-year-old.
“It’s a huge motivator,” Brady said. “Especially coming into this next game, we have a lot to play for. We have a whole country behind us. And we're more motivated than ever to bring home some hardware. It's a massive confidence booster. Especially when I go home, it’s going to be a big chip on my shoulder and something that's going to push me to work even harder knowing that that is something that I and we as a team can achieve when we really get down to it.”
This tournament has been Brady’s third time representing the U.S. on the youth level, having taken part in a pair of domestic training camps in March and April of this year prior to his selection for the Concacaf U-20 Championship. The Chicago Fire Academy product credits his experience in those camps with contributing to his level of performance so far in the tournament.
“When I came in, in March, I was…you always feel like the new guy, just trying to try to fit in, you know, develop connections with all the players and the coaches,” He said. “I felt like my time in March was a massive step forward in that realm. I feel like I definitely developed really, really strong connections with every player here, and especially the coaching staff. Coming into a tournament like this, it's been amazing how all of us now, we're brothers. And this team is like most definitely a family.”
On the Club level, Brady is still waiting for his MLS debut. The Naperville native has started four times so far for Chicago Fire II in MLS NEXT Pro play, earning two clean sheets and making 20 saves across those matches. In 2020, he played on loan for Forward Madison FC - the Fire’s then-USL League One affiliate - where he grabbed the starting job and played his way to the league’s 2020 Young Player of the Year Award.
While he has yet to appear for the first team, the Fire showed its long-term confidence in Brady in May when he signed a contract extension until the end of the 2026 season, with a Club option for 2027.
This tournament has served as yet another breakout performance for Brady beyond his 2020 USL League One campaign. With continued hard work and patience, he knows his time in MLS will come.
“What I can control is my work ethic,” he said. “When I get back home, I'm looking forward to getting back to things and grinding. I don't really have a set timeline, because again, it's more up to the coaches. But yeah, I mean, I'm, especially this season looking forward to working my ass off to try and get into that starting 11.”
Should Brady and the U.S. come away with a victory to cap an already memorable weekend, it would be the third confederation championship at U-20 level after previously winning the title in 2017 and 2018.
Brady has stayed close with his Fire teammates and coaches throughout the experience, and has been feeling the support from back home the entire way.
“It feels great to have all my boys back home behind me,” he said. “You know, even the coaches have been sending me messages. I've been on constant calls with them, just kind of checking in, talking about what's next, whether that's the next game or when I'm coming home or whatever. So it's been great, knowing that I have all the love and support of everyone back home. I retweeted a few of them. It's just it's good to see. I know if they were in this position, I would be doing the same.”
“In fact, I'm looking forward to watching the Chicago Fire II game tonight against Fort Lauderdale, and the Fire’s game tomorrow against San Jose.”
Sunday’s tournament final against the Dominican Republic kicks off at 7 p.m. CT from the Estadio Olímpico Metropolitano in San Pedro Sula, Honduras with coverage available on FS1 and TUDN.
The Fire kickoff shortly thereafter against the San Jose Earthquakes at 8 p.m. CT on WGN, CF97 Live, Univision Radio, and MLS LIVE's out-of-market package on ESPN+.