The Crossfire Premier B03-A squad returned last week from their international travels, having completed eight days of soccer in Madrid, Spain, which culminated with their participation in the Madrid Football Cup, one of the more prestigious U-14 club competitions in the world. Featuring 24 teams, the tournament included the U-14 teams from 19 first-division professional clubs in Europe and Japan, as well as two U-14 Youth National Teams (Japan and Northern Ireland).
After two friendly matches (0-0 vs. Japan and a 4-0 win vs. NYFC), training and several tours throughout the city of Madrid–including taking in Real Madrid’s thrilling 2-1 Champions League victory over Sporting–the Crossfire boys began the tournament strong, earning a 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain, one of the biggest clubs in the world. Crossfire took the lead early in the contest and held on throughout the game, with PSG equalizing two minutes into injury time.
In their next match, Crossfire defeated Sunderland AFC of the English Premier League 2-1, setting up their third game of the day vs. FC Midtjylland of Denmark. All the Academy players at FC Midtjylland live at Sportcenter Ikast, where they also train up to nine times a week. From this Academy, around eight players in every year usually get a contract with the club’s first team. The game was an important match for Group A standings, and both teams treated it as such, producing an exciting end-to-end battle that somehow remained 0-0 at full time. The result left Crossfire on 5 points after the first day, in second place in the group behind only Real Madrid, who won all three of their first-day matches.
Day two begin with Crossfire Premier vs. Real Madrid. The Spanish giants had demolished the competition thus far in the tournament and started much the same, controlling the tempo and possession and racing out to a 2-0 halftime lead. Crossfire battled back in the second half, however, and eventually pulled a goal back on a header off a set piece, making the score 1-2 with under five minutes to go. In the game’s dying moments, a Crossfire forward picked off an errant pass between Madrid defenders and was in alone on the goalkeeper with a chance to tie, but the keeper did well to come out and smother, and the game ended 2-1 for Real Madrid.
In the last match of Group A, Crossfire was set up against JEF United Ichihara Chiba of Japan. Already the surprise of the tournament, a win vs. JEF United would put Crossfire into the tournament’s final eight, a result no one in Madrid had guessed was possible. In the end, however, a JEF forward capitalized on a defensive lapse to put the Japanese side up 1-0 and despite several quality attempts, Crossfire never found a way back. The result left Crossfire in a tie with Paris Saint-Germain and sent the Washington group into the consolation knockouts, where the team was able to play two more matches, versus Stromsgodset of Norway and Rayo Vallecano de Madrid of Spain.
The tournament was won by FC Nordsjaelland of Denmark, who defeated Chelsea FC 3-0 in the final, with the Japan U-14 National Team claiming third place.