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2018 Central Conference Championship Recap

By COLTON CORESCHI -, 07/24/18, 4:00PM EDT


Chicago FC United pull off dual upsets to claim title

Entering the weekend as the No. 4 seed and runner-up from the Heartland Division, Chicago FC United pulled off a pair of spectacular upsets to claim the 2018 Central Conference Championship.

Entering the weekend with a 7-5-2 record, Chicago faced an immediate tough test in the Dayton Dutch Lions, who were riding the high of their first Great Lakes Division title in team history. The going got tough immediately for Chicago, as after an opening goal, the team conceded three in a row to Dayton to fall behind 3-1. But Chicago battled back, scoring four unanswered to storm from behind and pull off the first upset of the weekend, 5-3, over Dayton.

Their second foes were no easier, as the Regular Season Champion Des Moines Menace entered the playoffs undefeated at 13-0-1 and survived penalties against Lansing United in their own semifinal. Chicago shocked the hosts in the final, as their stout defense shutout the Menace and one goal was enough to see them pull off yet another upset to emerge as champions.

Here's a recap of all of the weekend's action at the Central Conference Championship.

Dayton Dutch Lions 3-5 Chicago FC United

Photo courtesy Jayde Vogeler/Des Moines Menace

One of the most entertaining matches of the weekend, the opening semifinal between Dayton and Chicago was a stunning display. After Chicago unexpectedly found the opening goal, Dayton struck three times through Tate Robertson, JJ Williams and Jackson Dietrich to take a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead. But a spectacular four-goal second half saw a pair of goals from Luka Prpa sandwiched by one each from Max Todd and Connor Alba to stun the Dutch Lions and move on to Saturday's final.


  • 28' - CHI - Alfaro (Todd)

  • 31' - DAY - Robertson

  • 41' - DAY - Williams (Deroy)

  • 45' - DAY - Dietrich (Stovall)

  • 53' - CHI - Todd (Prpa)

  • 70' - CHI - Prpa (Alba)

  • 82' - CHI - Prpa (Sanchez)

  • 90' - CHI - Alba (Koenig)

Man of the Match - Luka Prpa, Chicago FC United

The No. 34 PDL Top Prospect showed why he's on the list on Friday, scoring both the equalizer and game-winning goal in the second half, while assisting Chicago's second as well.

Des Moines Menace (4) 0-0 (3) Lansing United

Photo courtesy Jayde Vogeler/Des Moines Menace

The eight goal-fest between Dayton and Chicago an hour earlier must've sapped the offensive energy from Valley Stadium, as the second semifinal of the evening went scoreless through 120 minutes between the host Menace and Lansing United. Despite opportunities on both ends, it came down to kicks from the spot. After an early save from Lansing, the Menace found themselves down 3-1 during the shootout before young star goalkeeper Carlos Mercado stunningly stopped two consecutive takes from Lansing to allow the Menace to battle back, score their next three, and escape to the final.


  • N/A

Man of the Match - Carlos Mercado, Des Moines Menace

The No. 31 Top Prospect and incoming freshman at Incarnate Word was stunning in the penalty shootout, making two massive saves to consequently save his team's evening and secure advancement to the final.

Des Moines Menace 0-1 Chicago FC United

Photo courtesy Jayde Vogeler/Des Moines Menace

Photo courtesy Jayde Vogeler/Des Moines Menace

After very different nights - Chicago winning an eight-goal thriller, the Menace barely surviving penalties against Lansing - the No. 1 and No. 4 seeds met in the Central Conference Final on Saturday evening. Perhaps the 120 minutes of action took their toll on the Menace, or perhaps Chicago was riding its high from the upset over Dayton, but the 1-0 shutout result was unexpected and shocked the home crowd in Des Moines. After a scoreless battle for 75 minutes, Giann Magno struck for Chicago in the 76th to seal the title for his club and secure advancement to the National Semifinals.


  • 76' - CHI - Magno

Man of the Match - Giann Magno, Chicago FC United

While Luis Barraza made three crucial saves in goal for Chicago, Magno was the man who broke the deadlock in the 76th minute to secure the Central Conference title for Chicago.

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