FC Dallas youth movement forges ahead

By Mike Woitalla

Last Saturday, MLS's first-place team FC Dallas beat D.C United, 2-1. Its first goal came from 19-year-old Kellyn Acosta. The gamewinner by Fabian Castillo was set up by a 23-year-old, Victor Ulloa.

Both Acosta and Ulloa came out of the FC Dallas academy program and are among the club’s league-leading 13 Homegrown signings.

Also on Saturday, FC Dallas won the U-15/16 U.S. Soccer Development Academy national title with a 4-0 win over the New York Red Bulls.

“Hopefully this means the future looks bright and we’ll have some more players come into the first team in the next few years and make an impact,” says FC Dallas Youth vice president Chris Hayden. “We have an ownership group who’s really supportive of that.

“We want a team that does have local players. If we’re able to develop players in our academy and if they’re able to play and have lengthy careers, that makes it a lot more compelling story for our fans.”

FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja, after retiring as a player, started his coaching career by working in the FC Dallas’ youth program. Pareja’s first team staff includes three assistants who coached FC Dallas academy teams: Marco Ferruzzi, Josema Bazan and Drew Keeshan.

“It’s a unique story,” says Hayden. “we have a lot of kids coming though our academy playing on the first team, but we also have a first-team staff that worked with the youth program at one point.”

In May, during a 4-1 win over Houston, 17-year-old Alejandro Zendejas came on as a late sub, joining Acosta, Ulloa and Moises Hernandez to make it four Homegrown players on the field for FC Dallas.

Hernandez, who played for the U.S. U-20s but now represents Guatemala at the senior level, joined FC Dallas at U-11. Zendejas arrived from FC Dallas’ El Paso affiliate and lived with a host family for a year and a half before joining the U.S. U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla. The 18-year-old Coy Craft, who debuted for the first team last season, came out of FC Dallas’ affiliate club in Tennessee.

The final victory by U-15/16 FC Dallas, coached by 2014-15 Development Academy Coach of the Year Luchi Gonazelez, capped off a run in which it outscored its six postseason opponents, 20-0. Its offense was led by Devin Vega (21 goals this season), Giovanni Montesdoeca (21), and Toshiki Yasuda (19).

Vega was named 2014-15 Academy Player of the Year while goalkeeper Ben Hale, defender Reggie Cannon and midfielder Weston McKennie earned Central Conference Starting XI honors.

FC Dallas U-15/16 2015 champions. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

U-15/16 Development Academy Championships
July 18 in Carson, Calif. 
FC Dallas 4 New York Red Bulls 0
Goals: Weston McKennie 11, Giovanni Montesdeoca 33, Toshiki Yasuda 48, Adrian Ramos 80.
Philadelphia Union 2 Georgia United 0
Goals: Tiger Graham 40, Anthony Fontana 80'
July 16 in Carson, Calif. 
Red Bulls 2 Georgia United 1
Goals: Brian Saramago 4, Noah Powder 8; Patrick Okonkwo 11.
FC Dallas 3 Philadelphia Union 0
Goals: Adrian Ramos 14, Devin Vega 39, Weston McKinnie 62.

Chicago Fire claims U-17/18 crown

The Chicago Fire, coached by Gonzalo Segares, ended Real Salt Lake AZ’s 21-game unbeaten streak with a 3-1 win in the final. The Fire had entered the 32-team playoff field as the 15th-seeded team.

Chicago Fire U-17/18 2015 champions. (Courtesy US Soccer)

U-17/18 Development Academy Championships
July 18 in Carson, Calif. 
Chicago Fire 3 Real Salt Lake AZ 1
Goals: Michael Jimenez 13, Andrew Gutman 45, own goal 85; Amar Sejdic 50.
Third Place
San Jose Earthquakes 2 Montreal Impact 1
Goals: Rory Birse 38, Zachary Penner 64; Heikel Jarras 69
July 16 in Carson, Calif. 
Real Salt Lake AZ 2 San Jose Earthquakes 0
Goals: Aaron Herrera 43, Amar Sejdic 61.
Chicago Fire 4 Montreal Impact 2
Goals: Cameron Lindley 61, Djordje Mihailovic 79, 101, Michael Jimenez 92; Jimmy Shammer Sanon 66, Thomas Meilleur Giguere 87.

Development Academy Champions U-17/18
2015 Chicago Fire
2014 PDA
2013 New York Red Bulls
2012 FC Dallas
2011 Pateadores
2010 Vardar SC
2009 Carmel United
2008 Baltimore Bays

Development Academy Champions U-15/16
2015 FC Dallas
2014 LA Galaxy
2013 Real Salt Lake AZ
2012 New York Red Bulls
2011 LA Galaxy
2010 Chicago Fire
2009 Derby County Wolves
2008 Carmel United

1 comment about "FC Dallas youth movement forges ahead ".
  1. Soccer Madness, July 24, 2015 at 12:39 a.m.

    Would like to know whatb is the real difference between Mls and non Mls DA? What sets them complete apart and above?? Sure some or most give free play but as far as development goes what is the biggest advantage to being with Mls DA over other DA? I see little to know difference roster age wise. I would think that Mls would play many more younger players on each academy teams like a 4 top U14s on U16 teams. 3-4 U15s on u18 teams. This is what is done across the world to accelerate development and hopefully have those players play pro by age 17-18. We do not see this trend with Mls teams much less non Mls teams. Mls teams should be absolutely and clearly dominating non Mls DA. For this to happen Mls DA would have to have better trainers and coaches who are held accountable for sending top players up the ladder at a consistent level. Why would MLs DA invest in player development if not holding their coaches accountable to produce great oproducts out of that investment? Could it be that all they are using them for is marketing in the commu nity? To gain more partner clubs to make some $$$ from?? Fc Dallas was oldest U16 team in entire DA. Are their top ous being challenged to their potential?

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