WINFIELD | The Chicago Fire Junior U15 boys team won the US Youth Soccer Indiana State Cup and have qualified for the Region II (Midwest) Championships, to take place June 21-25 in the Dayton, Ohio area.
The Indiana Elite Red U15 team will be taking its place.
"We've always been fairly independent," said former professional player and coach Novi Marojevic, who helped start the Indiana Tigers FC in 2006 before it became part of the Chicago Fire Junior program four years ago.
"Even after we joined them, we basically ran things the way we ran them before," Marojevic said. "Still, we thought it would be better if we affiliated with a Major League Soccer club."
Things have changed since then. The Chicago Fire Juniors of Northwest Indiana went on to expand to three locations: Crown Point (Winfield), Chesterton and Dyer.
"I know there are clubs around here who have merged into one big club," Marojevic said. "But we've always been biggest in northwest Indiana.
"We have 25 teams and 370 kids."
Marojevic, who was the president and director of coaching for the CFJNWI, reached a decision with club coaches and administrators to jettison themselves from the Chicago Fire and rename the club Indiana Elite FC.
"We thought it best to go our separate ways," Marojevic said. "We're based more in Indiana ... we're not associated with any park district like the other Chicago Fire clubs.
"We're completely free from their authority. We can do what we believe is best for the club."
The club officially changed its name June 1. Thus, the Region II qualifying team will be playing under another moniker.
Likewise for three "Indiana Elite" teams that played in the Dallas Premier SuperCopa last week.
"(SuperCopa) one of the biggest youth tournaments in the nation," Marojevic said. "You have to be invited. You can't just fill out a registration form and you're in. They only take the best."
The teams that qualified for Dallas were the Boys 03/04 Elite (Under-10), Boys 02/03 Elite (U11) and Boys 01/02 Elite (U12).
No matter what name it had at the time, the club consistently fielded strong boys teams.
"We're going to try to build up our girls program," Marojevic said.