Chicago, Illinois – July 26-31; MPS having secured 4 of the 5 available spots offered through the New England Premiership Final 4 playoffs at U14 , U15 , U16 and U18 on Father’s Day weekend arrived in Chicago to compete with the winners of each of the 14 National Premier Leagues in this inaugural Champions League event run by US Club Soccer.
At U18, we secured a place in the final after a run that included thrilling 3-1 and 2-0 victories respectively over Gulf Coast Houston Dynamo and St Louis Scott Gallagher. Under the guidance of GM Joe Bradley, and his trusted assistant Rob Nicholson the team exceeded expectations losing only to Chicago Fire Academy in the Final. Big Kevin O’Brien was amongst the goals as always and he was missed when he strained a hamstring in the first 10 minutes of the final. Other notable performances came from Dutch star Reyn Wagenaar and left back Mark Perrault in what was a terrific effort throughout by the entire group.
A similar story at U15 where a wonderful hat-trick from skipper Tyler Morin in a 3-2 victory against Chicago Fire was added to with a 3-1 win against West Florida Flames, with three wonderful strikes from outside the box from Dillon Foley (2) and Conor Hudson. This set up a mouth-watering semi-final with the most famous club side ever to come out of North America – the New York Cosmos. The Cosmos had scraped a narrow 1-0 win in the group game where the Bulldogs were outstanding, and the semi-final was a bridge too far as they gambled late in the game in trying to pull back a three goal deficit eventually losing 4-1. A terrific effort from the young Bulldogs and Head Coach Philip Mitchell was extremely proud of his young troops.
At U16 the Bulldogs could not have been more unlucky, as they exited the competition in spite of 2 wins and a tie. Head Coach Chris Ward-Jones was left to rue a goal difference exit after narrow wins against Heat FC from Nevada and FC Kraze of Florida proved to be not enough. Sam Ward’s goal will live long in the memory in the 3-2 win, and the opening day draw with St Louis Scott Gallagher, the eventual winners, said everything about how well this team performed. Chris Ward-Jones could not have been happier with his players, who like the 15s and 18s put a marker down for the club at National Level.
At U14 Bulldogs were not at full strength. A creditable opening 2-0 defeat against Chicago Magic who were group favorites meant that they needed victory against DMS from California and FC Kraze from Florida – but defeats in both games meant that it was a painful first experience, but as MPS youngest group it has certainly shown many of these young players what is required at National tournament level. They did at least finish their 5 day trip off with a 3-2 victory in the consolation game against Chicago Fire where Jamie Mitchell struck a late winner to add to the goals of Sooyoung Kim and Ben Waithe. Head Coaches Philip Mitchell and Peter Bradley will take stock from this and remind these young players of the opportunities that lie ahead.