Loving leads Hillcrest past TF North

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Loving leads Hillcrest past TF North

By Matthew Bruce
YourSeason.com

T.F. North scored the first bucket of the game. Hillcrest took over from there.Jalen Loving totaled 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the No. 21 Hawks, who never were threatened and cruised to a 74-41 blowout Friday night in the South Suburban Blue crossover in Country Club Hills.Jovan Mooring started the dominance for Hillcrest, which has won eight of its past nine games. The 6-foot-1 junior guard sparked a 15-0 run when he knocked down a three-pointer while falling down from 23 feet out midway through the first quarter. Two possessions later, Mooring brought the ball up the court and swished one from a foot deeper to give the Hawks (17-4, 9-0) a 12-2 lead.Point guard Kyle Oden followed suit, knocking down a pair of treys. By the end of the frame Hillcrest led 23-9. Oden netted another three-pointer at the first-half buzzer to give the Hawks a 36-12 lead at the break. Mooring and Oden both finished with three treys.T.F. North, which had 25 turnovers, could not figure out the Hawks halfcourt trap. T.F. North scored just three points in the second quarter.I keep saying this: Im excited about the way we play defense. We just need to make sure we execute on offense, Hillcrest coach Don Houston said. Overall, Im pretty happy with the effort.Loving was a killer down low for Hillcrest, connecting on 11 of 14 shots from the field. Nicholas Wood was the lone T.F. North player to finish in double figures, scoring 10 points. Loving, Mooring (14 points) and Oden (13) combined for 52 of the Hawks points.Any given night, any of the starting five can give us a whole lot, Houston said. If one person isnt having the greatest game, someone else can come in and give us a good game. So Im not surprised when any one of those guys step up.

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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