U.S. SOCCER ACADEMY: 'No. 1' Chicago Magic takes new challenge

[CLUB PROFILE SERIES] The Chicago Magic, which for the last three years has occupied the No. 1 spot in Soccer America Magazine's Top 20 Best Boys Youth Clubs, is among the first clubs accepted for the inaugural season of the U.S. Soccer Development Academy this fall. The Magic rose to national prominence under Mike "Matko" Matkovich, who remains Director of Coaching while serving as assistant coach of Major League Soccer's Toronto FC. Famous Magic alumni include Chivas USA goalkeeper Brad Guzan, a member the USA's Copa America squad, who joined the Magic at age 10.

The Magic, based in suburban Frankfort, grew out of Sports Club SC, which was founded in 1989 by Alex Hernandez. Matkovich, who was an all-state
forward at Naperville (Ill.) North High School and played college ball at Lewis University, was initially brought on as co-director by Hernandez.

The Magic boys won their first USYS National Cup in 1999 (U-16) and their second in 2003 (U-17). They won Super Y-League's North American Finals titles in two boys age groups three times in the last four years.

Magic alum Ned Grabavoy co-captained Indiana to the 2003 NCAA Division I title and started for the USA at the U-20 World Cup the same year. The Columbus Crew player is one of several Magic players in MLS. Quavas Kirk (Los Angeles Galaxy), started for the USA at the 2005 U-17 World Championship.

Through the years, it has taken on several stars from outside the Chicago area, among them Ohioan Ofori Sarkodie, who captained the 2005 U.S. U-17s and is with the current U-20s in Canada for the U-20 World Cup. Wisconsin product Josh Lambo is in the U.S. U-17 residency camp in Bradenton, Fla., and started one game in the U-17 World Championship qualifying tournament. Gold Cup champion Ricardo Clark, who grew up in Georgia, had a brief stint with the Magic.

Chicago Magic Web site:
http://www.chicagomagic.net/

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