Sapling Snapshot: Playoff Preview - Chicago Fire 17/18

On Monday June 23 the Portland Timbers U-17/18s will open the U.S. Soccer Development Academy Playoffs against the Chicago Fire U-17/18s at Grand Park in Westfield, Ind.

Portland and Chicago will match-up on Field 2, which is one of the turf fields at the complex (Timbers play on grass for other two group games).

The Fire are the seeded side in the Timbers’ Group D after finishing the regular season 19-3-5, with 62 points and 2.30 points/games played. Chicago was the top team from the Mid-America Division in the Central Conference and finished the regular season as the fourth place team in the national standings.

On the attack, Jeffrey Farina leads the Fire with 10 goals on the season. Bound for Notre Dame, the forward is the No. 83 prospect in the Class of 2014 according to College Soccer News and is the third highest rated prospect on the Fire roster in the 2014 class. Top Drawer Soccer rates Farina as the No. 3 player in the Midwest Region and 36th best player in the country, while sitting the 6-foot-3 forward as the No. 14 player in the nation at his position.

Qudus Lawal is slightly behind Farina in goals on the year with nine. Lawal, a 6-foot-1 forward from Nigeria, joined the Chicago Academy after putting up 40 goals and 21 assists in an 11-week high school season at Mather High School.

Grant Lillard will do his best to slow down the Saplings’ forwards on the Chicago backline. College Soccer News rates the 6-foot-4 defender, committed to Indiana, as the No. 137 player in the Class of 2014. Chicago’s captain, Lillard was called into camp with the United States’ U-20 men’s national team in January. At one-point in his life, Lillard was a nationally ranked chess player.

James Myall will likely join Lillard on the backline for Chicago. A 5-foot-9 commit to Brown University has made multiple appearances with the Fire in reserve matches, and has experience all across the backline and in central midfield.

Martin Alba will patrol the midfield for Chicago, as the Marquette signee has started and played in 27 matches this season and netted one goal. College Soccer News and Top Drawer Soccer rate Alba in the Top 100 nationally.

Alex Underwood is also a mainstay in the Chicago midfield, finishing the regular season with six goals in 27 games. Underwood is a 5-foot-10 signee for the University of Denver.

One of the Fire’s goalkeepers, Adrian Remeniuk is committed to join Wisconsin in the fall. Remeniuk started in 13 matches for Chicago this season. Sawyer Jackman is the other keeper for the Fire, having started 14 matches this season.

Defender Michael Jimenez is rated as the No. 82 prospect in the class of 2015, while midfielder Oscar Gonzalez is the No. 131 player in the Class of 2015.

Also committed to play in college this fall from the Fire U-17/18s –
Luca Giovine, Florida International (3 goals, 19 games)
Mitchell Meyer, Cornell (0 games)
John Moderwall, Northwestern (1 game) [also: No. 70 in class of 2014]

Verbally committed for Fall 2015 –
Bradley Dunwell, Wake Forest (3 goals, 24 games) [No. 70, class of 2015]
Andrew Gutman, Indiana (24 games played)

Portland will play FC Dallas on June 24 and Charlotte Soccer Academy on Thursday.

Alright guys, I don't believe I have to say this but, just in case, please do not submit anything racist, homophobic, sexist or otherwise not appropriate for even the younger Timbers fans.

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