The Minnesota United Academy was in action last weekend, with all three teams taking on the Chicago Fire Academy. While not all of the results went in their favor, it was a weekend filled with lessons and plenty of standout performances from this year’s talented bunch of young Loons.
MNUFC 1-3 Chicago Fire
The U15s fell to the Fire by a 1-3 scoreline, but the boys battled for 90 minutes. Though they conceded a penalty to go behind early, MNUFC found plenty of chances in the second half. Grady Muir was the lone goalscorer for the Loons in this end-to-end contest, but the efforts of Colin Ssennoga, Jaden Bernard, and Noah Schmaltz helped to keep the team in the game. Coach Jamie Carroll-Rolfe was proud of this young group, with nothing but positive things to say after the match.
“For most of the group, it was their first game at this level against MLS opposition, and I was really pleased with how they applied themselves,” Carroll-Rolfe said. “The group is only getting stronger, and we have taken some great lessons from the experience. We look forward now to another exciting challenge against Austin FC.”
MNUFC 2-3 Chicago Fire
The result was the same for the U17s, but the match played out much differently. MNUFC went up 1-0, then 2-1 before conceding two late goals to fall 2-3. While they came out on the wrong side of the scoreline, Head Coach Justin Ferguson’s squad acquitted themselves well throughout, learning valuable new lessons and demonstrating some of the tricks they have already picked up this season. Ferguson, like Carroll-Rolfe, was pleased with the performance overall.
“I felt like we played really well,” Ferguson said. “I think it was a good learning experience for the boys. It’s nice to see their growth over the first three games.”
The Loons’ goals came courtesy of Donovan Sincropi and Bryan Espadero, with Kai Zeruhn and Mohamed Bojang putting in solid shifts on the day as well.
MNUFC 0-2 Chicago Fire
MNUFC 2-1 FC United
The U19s rounded out the weekend with a double-header in the Windy City, earning mixed results from two hard-fought games. In their first match against Chicago Fire, the young Loons went down 0-2 early on. There were plenty of opportunities to chip at Chicago’s lead in the second half, but MNUFC couldn’t find the finishing touch they needed. Outstanding performances from Gio Cruz and Jonah Gasho were bright spots in what was ultimately a valuable experience for Head Coach Fanendo Adi and his team. By the end of the game, the Loons were growing into the match and creating chances, a sign that encouraged Adi.
“It was an exciting weekend that gave us a real understanding of where we are as an Academy,” Adi said. “Chicago was organized and executed their tactics very effectively, causing a lot of problems. As the game wore on and into the Sunday match against FC United, we were able to be both brave and pragmatic as we tried to impose our game on the opponent. I’m really pleased with how the team is coming along.”
On Sunday, the Loons went down early in the second half against FC United. However, they stormed back to earn a 2-1 win, demonstrating the bravery that their head coach was so proud of. Goalscorers Julian Banks and Nathan Moua made the difference on the scoresheet, while the exceptional efforts of Ben Geist, Adam Heiden, and Emerson Castillo fueled the team’s performance in equally valuable ways.
All three Academy teams will be back in action this weekend, with the U15s and U17s heading to Texas to take on Austin FC on Saturday, September 30. Meanwhile, the U19s will be staying at home to play Shattuck-St. Marys on the same day. That match will kickoff at 3:00 p.m. CT and be played at Gordy Aamoth Stadium at The Blake School in Hopkins, Minnesota.