Chicago Fire Juniors: Where it all begins

and other various unique offerings are in the works. Selected teams will play in the most prestigious of tournaments, including the Sun Bowl (Tampa, Fla.), Presidents Day Invite (Phoenix, Ariz.), Marriott College Showcase (Memphis, Tenn.), Surf Cup (San Diego, Calif.), KISS (Kalamazoo, Mich.), and Metro FC (Collinsville, Ill.), as well as International Tournaments like the Academies World Cup (Barcelona, Spain), the Milk Cup (Dublin, Ireland) and others. Additionally, our relationship with other Major League Soccer youth programs offers endless opportunities and groundbreaking initiatives.

Not only do our club players see the first teamers and coaching staff out on the stadium pitch, but they are also fortunate to have many of these same players and coaches working with them on a regular basis. In addition to the current Fire players and coaches on staff, the CFJ coaching staff is comprised of highly licensed, full-time coaches with extensive professional or collegiate playing backgrounds.

Our teams represent the Chicago Fire in league and tournament play as well as internationally. The CFJ believe in a holistic approach to club soccer, meaning that while we strive to develop the most elite soccer players and future professionals, we never ignore the fact that development starts somewhere. Our three-tiered approach to the game allows for "new" soccer players to take advantage of professional coaching and development, while at the same time providing unparalleled opportunities for the most advanced players, and, of course, programs for all those in between.

Our newest program expansion is in coordination with the first team's relationship with Monarcas Morelia of the Mexican first division. Roland Hahn, the Fire's director of youth development, and yours truly recently traveled to Morelia and solidified our Youth Development Program's relationship with Morelia's youth program - "Fuerzas Basicas." The trip proved to not only be an education on the passion young players can bring to the game, but also paved the way for continued dialogue between the coaching staff of Fuerzas Basicas and the CFJ. From the players' standpoint, the most attractive aspect of our new partnership is the player exchange program. Individuals and teams will be traveling to Morelia to get a first hand taste of what Mexican soccer is like and, likewise, we will have visits from our Mexican sister program's players, teams and staff.

Up next on the CFJ agenda: Boys H.S. tryouts

On Sunday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Chicago Fire Juniors will be holding tryouts for the Boys U-15 - U-19 at Seven Gables Park in Wheaton, Ill. For more information on the tryouts or the Chicago Fire Juniors, please visit www.chicagofirejuniors.com.

Until next time,

Larry Sunderland

Chicago Fire manager of youth development & CFJ director of coaching


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