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Chicago Fire Announce Strategic Merger with FC Drive

June 14, 2013 - Major League Soccer (MLS) Chicago Fire

CHICAGO, Ill. - The Chicago Fire Soccer Club announced Friday a strategic partnership with Chicago-based FC Drive to become the Chicago Fire Juniors City. The new Chicago Fire Juniors City is one of ten clubs in the Chicago Fire Juniors family, the fifth in the Chicagoland, first in the downtown area, and the fourth in the state of Illinois. Since 2008, the Fire's youth development program has grown from 400 participants to more than 10,000 across seven states.

"Historically, we haven't had a youth club within the city limits so the creation of the Chicago Fire Juniors City helps us build a stronger presence here at home," said Chicago Fire Vice President of Soccer Operations Guillermo Petrei. "This partnership with FC Drive allows us to tap into the wealth of young soccer players in Chicago, giving them access to an established player development infrastructure, providing them with opportunities to join our Academy and first team similar to the Juniors programs across the nation."

Supplemental tryouts for boys and girls in the U-8 to U-18 ages groups will take place at Montrose West Synthetic Field (601 W. Montrose Ave.) on Tuesday, June 18 from 4:30 - 6:30 p.m. CT.

Founded as a not-for-profit organization to teach a higher level of play and to inspire competitive excellence in youth soccer players, FC Drive began play in September 2007 under the direction of current Fire head coach Frank Klopas. Now in its eighth season, FC Drive has more than 400 players on 32 teams.

Additional information on CFJ City can be found at www.chicagofirejuniorscity.com, on Facebook, Twitter @FireJrsCity or by emailing info@chicagofirejuniorscity.com.

The Chicago Fire Juniors program was formed to train local area youth in a professionally run environment and has since expanded to include branches in Illinois, Florida, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Louisiana and Kentucky. Through the Juniors program, players ranging from eight-years-old to 18-years old receive professionally developed curriculum to help build skill and knowledge of the game. The Juniors program has seen direct results, including the signing of CFJ-Mississippi product Kellen Gulley to the first team in 2011. Victor Pineda, the first Homegrown player in Fire history and Fire Juniors product, was recently selected by U.S. Under-20 Men's National Team head coach Tab Ramos for the 21-man roster to participate in the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey from June 21-July 13, 2013.

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