HOUSTON, TX - MAY 12: Fans watch the Houston Dynamo play D.C. United during the first half of a MLS game at BBVA Compass Stadium on May 12, 2012 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Eric Christian Smith/Getty Images)
Tonight at 8PM, the FC Dallas U18 Academy gets a second crack at the USSDA National Championship as they'll face Vancouver Whitecaps at BBVA Compass Stadium down in Houston.
FC Dallas was on the brink of elimination just a few days ago needing a stoppage time goal from Jonathan Top against Baltimore Bays Chelsea to set up a do-or-die final group stage game against local rivals Solar. Top scored twice more against Solar with Harvard-bound Mark Ashby scoring the winner in the 3-2 victory to set up tonight's showdown.
We will learn if this is truly a team of destiny tonight as the first real class of Academy graduates who have been with the team since the beginning of the U16/U18 Academy four years ago plays their last game with FC Dallas before either joining the first team or heading off to college.
The game is being streamed live on USSoccer.com and I'll be commenting on the game here so why not join me and cheer on the Academy...
After the jump a projected starting lineup and where they're headed after this game
GK - Eduardo Cortes - Graduating this year, unknown about college plans. A solid goalkeeper, might latch on at a smaller division school
LB - Nick Rochowski - Playing at University of New Mexico - A late bloomer who has really come on strong this year and is certainly one we will be tracking for future success and possible homegrown contract upon graduation from college. Has a big strong MLS-possible body
CB - Aaron Guillen - Playing at University of Florida Gulf Coast - A very tall center back who joined FC Dallas from El Paso affiliate. Solid center back who would be the best player on most academies
CB - Mark Ashby -Playing at Harvard University - With FC Dallas since 2009, Ashby is another tall, strong center back who has filled into what was a wiry frame earlier in his high school days. Definitely one to watch for the future
RB - Michael Ambrose - Playing at University of Maryland - Perhaps the most slam-dunk professional from the group, the team captain will be playing for FC Dallas one day. Zach Loyd starter kit with amazing professionalism for his age.
Dmid - Kellyn Acosta - Signed Homegrown Contract(likely U18 captain next year) - A guy we will be talking about for a long time, read more about Kellyn here
Mid - Marco Carrizales - Playing at Southern Methodist University - A calm and collected central midfielder that serves as the link between defense and attack. Not a flashy player, but one that could do well at SMU and raise some eyebrows
Mid - Daniel Garcia - Playing at University of North Carolina - A player you all should be familiar with by now, Garcia leads FC Dallas with 20 goals in 29 games this year. A small and shifty winger, good in tight spaces who can create goals out of nothing. Will flourish under Carlos Soamano at UNC and be in line for an HG contract if he continues his development.
Mid - David Robledo - Graduating this year, college unknown - Another linking midfielder type who can get forward in the attack, but more of a ball winner than Carrizales
Fwd - Jose De La Tejera - Graduating this year, college unknown - A Mexican forward who joined FC Dallas this year along with his brother. Big, strong guy who typically is the one that finishes the crosses sent in. 14 goals in 26 games this year means the guy knows how to find the net but can be wasteful with opportunities
Fwd - Jonathan Top - Signed homegrown contract - I don't think I need to tell you much about Top. He's got 3 goals in 3 games this week and will head back to the first team after tonight's game in blistering form. Fighting for a starting forward spot on the U20 World cup squad.