Over Martin Luther King weekend, members of the Fire Junior Elite Boys and Girls 2006, 2007 and 2008 teams competed at the 2020 Vegas Cup. After 226 players attended the annual Emerging Talent Program (ETP) camp in August 2019, 93 players were selected to form the teams that competed in the tournament. These players were also joined by 18 Fire Juniors staff members, which included two dedicated coaches per team and Technical Directors, Operations Coordinators and Goalkeeper coaches for both Boys and Girls programs. Between the players and staff, all 11 Fire Juniors were represented in Vegas.
“The ability of all our coaches to mold a team out of players who had just met and have them compete at an elite level almost immediately speaks volumes to both the coaches and players commitment to success,” said Girls ETP Technical Director Joe Sochacki.
All six teams arrived two days prior to the start of the tournament and held training sessions and team meetings to become better acquainted with one another.
The ETP Girls 2006 finished group play with a 2-0-1 record to advance out of their bracket. After winning the quarterfinals and semifinals in a respective fashion, the 2006 Girls would compete in the Championship. After the final ended in a 0-0 draw, the teams went to penalty kicks which resulted in the Fire Juniors winning 3-0 and winning the 2020 Vegas Cup Championship.
A similar result unfolded for the ETP Girls 2007 team as they went undefeated throughout the tournament. After dominating group play with an overall record of 3-0-0, the team would win their quarterfinal and semifinal matchups to advance to the finals of the Vegas Cup. After falling early, the team rebounded and tied the match before eventually claiming the 2020 Vegas Cup Championship in overtime by a score of 2-1.
The 2008 Girls faced extremely tough competition in their bracket and would not advance as they went 1-1-1 overall.
Meanwhile, on the boys’ side the Club saw similar results in all three age groups. The 2006 Boys moved on out of bracket play after earning a 2-0-1 record. The team would advance to the finals and come away victorious, finishing the Vegas Cup with an overall record of 5-0-1.
The 2007 Boys were the talk of the Vegas Cup as the team dominated their bracket. Throughout the group play, the team outscored the competition 21-3 and would complete their commanding presence in Las Vegas by taking home the trophy in the Championship.
The 2008 Boys would not advance out of group play as the team finished with an overall record of 1-0-2 in bracket play.
After the successful weekend that saw the Fire earn four trophies, it was the off-field presence that was noticed by the coaching staff that will help translate future wins for the Fire program.
“Winning an elite tournament such as the Vegas Cup with four out of six teams that the Fire sent to Las Vegas is extraordinary,” said Boys ETP Technical Director Craig Jones. “However, the best part was seeing these players from multiple Fire affiliates creating bonds that will interpret to on and off the field wins for the Fire.”
Free time between trainings and games allowed players from across the Fire Juniors Network to bond. Boys ETP Technical Director Craig Jones, shared his throughs on the off-field connections, “The championships were a nice addition but for me the best part was seeing these players from multiple affiliates having a great time getting to know each other and bond on and off the field.”
Thank you to the coaches, staff, players and their families for helping this tournament become a success for the Club! We look forward to even more success for our Fire Juniors Elite teams this year.