SOLAR SOCCER CLUB AND CONCORDE FIRE SET FOR DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY U-16/17 FINAL

IRVINE, Calif. (July 9, 2019)-Solar Soccer Club (Dallas, Texas) and Concorde Fire (Atlanta, Ga.) will face off for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-16/17 Boys Championship on Wednesday night at the Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine, Calif. at 10 p.m. ET. For the first time since 2009, a non-MLS-aligned club will take home the Academy Championship at this age level. Solar Soccer Club has made it through a number of dizzying back-and-forth affairs to reach the final, while Concorde Fire took down the tournament's top two seeds en route to the championship match.

After cruising through its first two group stage games, Solar has fought hard to earn its spot in the Academy Championship Final. Facing Montreal Impact in its final group match, Solar needed a game-winner in the 90th minute to secure its quarterfinal berth. There, Solar met fierce local rival FC Dallas, a team that they hadn't been able to overcome in three previous meetings this season. In a wild back-and-forth game, Solar and FCD traded blows to tie 2-2 in regulation. In extra time, forward Bailey Sparks broke through in the 100th minute to take down Dallas.

Another vaunted youth program, LA Galaxy awaited in the semifinals. Solar got off to a dream start, jumping out to a two-goal lead in the first 15 minutes of the game, but the Galaxy roared back in the second half to draw things even. Forward Riley O'Donnell played the hero this time, netting in the 80th minute to send Solar to the Academy Championship Final. O'Donnell and Sparks have led the way for Solar in the postseason, scoring four goals apiece.

Entering the 32-team Playoffs as the No. 27 seed, Concorde Fire has proved its doubters wrong time and time again in its postseason run. After a draw in its first group stage game, Concorde hasn't looked back, rattling off four straight wins to reach the final. After clinching its group with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Chicago Fire, No. 1 overall seed Shattuck-Saint Mary's awaited in the quarterfinals. Concorde netted twice in four minutes in the first half to secure a 2-1 win over the Minnesota power.

As the lowest seed remaining and match-ups redrawn each round, Concorde faced another challenge in the semifinal against No. 2 seed De Anza Force. The Force hadn't lost all season, but the Fire came out swinging when Miguel Ramirez gave Concorde a lead in the ninth minute. Though De Anza netted before the break, Ramirez iced the game in the 61st minute. The forward has been blazing hot for the Fire in the postseason, netting in four of five games.

The U-18/19 Final is the second of four Academy Championship Finals to be played in Irvine on Wednesday and Thursday. FC Dallas and New York City FC will face off for the U-18/19 crown at 7:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday while national champions for the Girls U-15 and U-16/17 age groups will be crowned on Thursday. Solar's U-16/17 Girls squad will also compete for a national title. The Academy Championships cap off the 12th season of the Development Academy.