FRISCO, Texas - Major League Soccer, together with its clubs FC Dallas and Chivas USA, today announced that Gabriel Funes, a 17-year Argentine-born forward from Arlington, Texas, was selected as the Winner of Sueño MLS 2008: The Dream Continues by FC Dallas; while Briant Reyes, a 16-year-old Salvadoran-American midfielder from Downey, Calif., was selected by Chivas USA.
The announcement was made in front of a live national TV audience, during Univision's popular weekly sports show, República Deportiva, which has followed the six-week search process in a unique "reality show within a show" format. Each winner was selected from a talent pool of approximately 2,000 participants by a world-class team of scouts and coaches from both Chivas USA and FC Dallas, respectively, as the culmination of a six-week-long quest to find the best undiscovered young soccer players in the nation.
The son of a professional Argentine soccer player, Funes stood out amongst tough competition in Dallas. Already a star at the high school level, the lanky forward led Arlington High to a 19-1 record, scoring 35 goals this past season. Gabriel made a final impression on the FC Dallas coaches when he scored the lone goal for the Sueno Team against the FC Dallas U-17 Team on March 21. His twin brother, Jose Funes, has also inherited talent for the sport, having reached the round of 12 at Sueño MLS in Dallas.
"This is an immense honor for me, and something I have always dreamed of," said Funes. "FC Dallas is a team with world-class players. I can't wait to learn from them and continue improving."
Funes has been invited to form part of the FC Dallas Juniors, the club's newly created developmental elite team that will directly prepare players for the professional team.
"We saw a lot of great talent during this search, but Gabriel was one that consistently impressed us throughout," said Chris Clarke, Director of Youth Player Development for FC Dallas. "We believe he has all of the right attributes to become a professional player, and look forward to watching his development from our Juniors team to hopefully our first team."
Born to parents from El Salvador, Briant Reyes stood out from the thousands of aspiring young players who tried their luck at Sueño MLS in Los Angeles. A junior at Downey High School, Reyes scored a goal in a crucial Sueño MLS trial match, played by the five Los Angeles Finalists and Chivas USA's U-16 Team, against the Chivas USA's U-15's on Friday, March 21. An admirer of the Brazilian National Team and its star forward Robinho, Reyes resides in Downey, Los Angeles County, Calif., with his parents Miguel and María, as well as his elder brother and younger sister. Reyes has been invited to play for Chivas USA's U-16 Team - coached by Chivas de Guadalajara legends Samuel Rivas and Miguel Ramos - where the region's top talent compete, free of cost to players, in the prestigious U.S. Soccer Development Academy.
"I'm happy to have reached this point, but I know this is just the beginning," said Reyes. "I'd like to thank my family and friends for all their support. Now the real challenge begins."
"Briant stood out among the Finalists and has earned his spot with our Chivas USA U-16's," said Dennis te Kloese, Director of Soccer for Chivas USA. "We now hope he will continue to show his best, in games and our training sessions at the Bell Gardens Sports Center, as Briant now moves to the next step in his career in this new, more competitive environment."
Built by The Home Depot, Sueño MLS is a six-week long quest to find the best undiscovered young soccer player in the nation. Sueño MLS, kicked off President's Weekend with four days of open tryouts at the Bell Gardens Sport Center, before moving the following weekend to Pizza Hut Park in Frisco, Texas, where four days of open tryouts took place under the watchful eyes of the FC Dallas coaching staff. On Saturday, March 1, in both Frisco and Los Angeles, each club's scouts watched as the 60 semifinalists players competed to make the final round. From the round of 60, the Final 18 for each team was selected and subsequently competed in a trial game for a chance to train with the respective MLS team, and possibly earn a roster spot. Each team then chose 3-5 finalists from the "The Final 18" from which the respective Sueño MLS winner was chosen.
Both players will hope to follow in the footsteps of last year's winner, Jorge Flores, who was promoted from Chivas USA's Under-19 Team to the club's professional ranks, and later was named to the United States Under-20 National Team. Flores is currently a member of Chivas USA's 28-man MLS roster.