With the Dallas Cup taking place on their turf, FC Dallas used the prestigious tournament to put their youth academy to the test.
In all, six FC Dallas youth teams took part in the tournament: the club’s two USSF Development Academy squads, along with a team from each age group from U-14 through U-17. It certainly paid dividends as several of FCD's youth players were tested by the swell of international teams that converged to compete against the world’s best.
“Overall, the results were very encouraging for us,” FC Dallas' director of player development, Óscar Pareja, told MLSsoccer.com over the phone.
For the first time at Dallas Cup, FC Dallas won a trophy as the U-15s captured honors, though the U-14s missed out on a second. Those two sides, along with the U-18s, were Dallas' only teams to secure passage from the original bracket stage.
At the tournament’s highest level, FC Dallas also had their U-18 team competing in the Gordon Jago Super Group. The side, which featured several of FCD’s Home Grown signings, swept its bracket before losing to Tigres in the semifinals, 5-0.
“They did very well,” Pareja said. “They led the team in the important games. Jonathan [Top] scored a few goals, Bryan Leyva did as well, Victor Ulloa was the captain and Moises Hernandez helped us with his experience.”
And while Pareja was a bit disappointed to lose at that stage, he did say that getting to play against teams like Barcelona and Japan’s U-18 national team will help the program as it continues to move forward.
Coming away from an experience like that is invaluable, particularly for the U-16s and U-18s, who are set to resume competing in the USSF Development Academy League this coming weekend against the Dallas Texans.
It’s a momentum that both teams hope to carry into the league’s playoffs.
“We are getting a big-game mentality,” Parjea said. “They know we can compete with any program in the world, which is one of the first objectives we had when we started.”