CHICAGO - The Chicago Fire's Senior Development Program (Under-23) side will face its first-ever test against an international youth team tomorrow when it takes on the Croatian Olympic (Under-21) Team in an exhibition match at Winnemac Stadium, located at 5101 N. Leavitt Street (corner of Leavitt and Foster), in Chicago. Fans can purchase tickets or find out more information by calling the event hotline at 773-572-8870. Tickets to the exhibition match cost $25 and can be purchased at the event site. NOTE TO MEDIA: Members of the media will be able to gain admittance to the contest using their 2005 Chicago Fire season credentials.
Gates at Winnemac Stadium will open tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. CT, with a women's match featuring talent from the Chicago Croatian community preceding the CFJ-Croatia match-up. Limited parking for the match will be available at Amundsen High School, located at 5110 N. Damen Ave. Street parking is also available near the stadium.
The Chicago Fire Senior Development squad is part of the MLS club's youth development program, the Chicago Fire Juniors. The Senior Development team has faced international competition before, as the squad defeated a youth select team from the Fire's Mexican League sister club, Monarcas Morelia, 2-1 on June 23, 2004 during the Mexican side's tour of the Midwest last summer.
The match will mark the first visit by a Croatian National Team to the United States for a full international match. Croatia, currently ranked 21st in the FIFA world rankings, is expected to bring a full-strength squad to Chicago for the historic match. Croatia has ranked as high as seven in the FIFA rankings in the last several years.
The Fire Juniors is the official youth club of the Fire and the only club of its kind in Major League Soccer, with a fully integrated pyramid of player development from U-8 to the professional level.
Fire Senior Development Side Falls in 2005 Debut 2-0 to Chicago Fire Premier
The newly formed Fire Senior Development Program squad is coming off its first match of 2005 last Wednesday, a 2-0 loss to another member of the Chicago Fire family, the Chicago Fire Premier of the Premier Development League. The perennial PDL powers used a pair of goals in the first half, including a penalty kick by Hamid Mehreioskouei, to register the victory in the contest, which the CFJ's Senior Development squad used as a warm-up in preparation for tomorrow's friendly against the Croatian U-21's.