U15 MLS Next Cup: Chicago Downs LA Galaxy

U15 MLS Next Cup: Chicago Downs LA Galaxy
by Victor Olorunfemi
June 24, 2024
Players featured in this article:
D | Chicago Fire
James Field |  2027
MF | Chicago Fire
Darris Hyte |  2027
F | Chicago Fire
F | LA Galaxy
D | LA Galaxy
MF | Chicago Fire

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The Chicago Fire proved their credentials as the best U15 team in the country in a 3-1 comeback defeat of the LA Galaxy. It is the first MLS Next championship for the Fire since winning the inaugural U19 tournament in 2021.

Early on, it was all LA Galaxy as a string of consistent attacks led to a wide-open headed goal from Aaron Medina following a pin-point cross from Max Steelman. That was just 11 minutes into the game, serving as a perfect start for the Galaxy and a wake-up call for the Midwestern side.

And just 12 minutes later, the Fire would draw even as Aaron Jimenez received and cleverly turned his defender to win a penalty kick that James Field would convert. That would end the scoring for the first half, with neither team creating clear-cut opportunities.

The second half began with early signs of a Chicago team that settled their nerves and returned to the elite combination play that carried the team to the final. That was on full display on the go-ahead goal as Robert Turdean found Emiliano Chavez, whose reverse cross would be dummied by Jimenez for an on-rushing Christopher Morales to calmly slot into the bottom corner.

With a 2-1 lead four minutes into the second half, the Fire could maintain a defensive posture, waiting to exploit counter-attacking opportunities. Denzel Palacios at center back and Alexander Ivanov in goal made several clutch blocks, eventually leading to a Darris Hyte clincher in the third minute of added time.

Hyte was rewarded with tournament MVP, while Ivanov took home Goalkeeper of the Tournament Honors.

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