Big D Soccer News Update June 12

Can Raul continue his great form on Saturday? - USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas look to rebound from a tough slump, USMNT continue their quest for the Gold Cup, and how far one team's fans went to try to keep their young star.

Howdy folks! With the summer slump seemingly in full effect FC Dallas look to rebound against a weakened RSL side tomorrow night in Frisco and the USMNT look to continue their early domination in the Gold Cup.

FC Dallas

There weren't many thing to feel positive about after the rough loss last weekend in Los Angeles. However one player stood out among the rest. Raul Fernandez was the saving grace for FCD (*rim shot*) and was awarded for his amazing stop of Gyasi Zardes with the MLS Save of the Week, his second SotW award this year.

Not much else went right for the Hoops on the west coast unfortunately.

Two weeks ago in Philadelphia the FC Dallas Century Club saw the induction of it's 14th member when Kenny Cooper played his 100th game in Hoops. As with other 2013 FCD Century Club members George John and Jair Benitez, FCDallas.com's Daniel Robertson sat down for a Q & A with FCD's 2nd all time leading scorer.

What's your favorite memory with FC Dallas?

It’s hard to distinguish just one…maybe my first ever game here against Chicago in 2006 stands out as one of my favorites. It’s just such a unique thing to be able to play in your home town in front of family and friends and to be able to share all the good experiences with the people you love.

What's one of your main Texan habits?

Definitely saying "ya’ll," I took that one to Europe with me.

What was your favorite thing about living in Germany?

Experiencing the culture in Munich.

If I wasn’t playing soccer, I would be ____

Very, very sad.

Make sure to head over to the FC Dallas site to see all of the Q&A session.

Daniel also writes about the training habits of Coop and how his upbringing around professional soccer players helped to instill a strong work ethic in a young KCJ.

There’s no doubt that growing up around the NASL’s Dallas Tornado, coached by his father Kenny Sr., was certainly a major contributor to establishing the practice habits we see today. Of course, it also doesn’t hurt that Cooper started his own career at English giants Manchester United, occasionally training with the likes of long-time veterans Roy Keane, Rio Ferdinand and Gary Neville.

"To start off my career at Manchester United, I’m not sure you can start off at a better club and they do a great job of integrating the younger players with the first team players," said Cooper. "You get that exposure to first class professionals who are some of the best in our trade."

While it’s commonplace for younger players to stay after training for extra work, you don’t always see 28-year-old pros sticking around late, but for Cooper, it’s simply his daily routine.

What's your favorite memory of The Hitman in Hoops? While the Houston winner earlier this year was amazing and deserves to be near the top, my favorite KCJ moment was more than a few years ago against Chicago. Video via chamojones.

My favorite part may be how nonchalant Cooper was after the goal. Certainly one I'll never forget.

Matt Barbour at MLSSoccer.com is reporting that there is a (potential) piece of good news for FCD this weekend in that we could see the (potential) return of George John in the center of the defense against RSL.

Veteran center back George John is expected to return from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for the past three games, giving the club a boost in an attempt to snap a six-game winless streak.

Dallas have lost only twice in John’s thirteen league starts, but they’ve won only once in the six matches he has missed.

"If you’ll look at our results with George John and without George John," head coach Schellas Hyndman said, "that’s an indication that there’s an issue."

Our own Steve Fenn reported Wednesday how important George John has been to this team and I don't think that importance can be overstated, especially since it's has already been confirmed that Walker Zimmerman is a definite no to play this weekend.

Matt also writes that there is a chance that new FC Dallas acquisition Erick will be available for selection.

FC Dallas’ Brazilian newcomer Erick could make his debut on Saturday against Real Salt Lake if he receives his International Transfer Certificate in time, and it would be a welcome sight to an FCD team in need of someone to help guide them out of a six-game winless drought.

...Erick has already made a strong impression on his new teammates in his short time in Frisco.

"Very good player, you can see what they were thinking when they got him," Jacobson told reporters. "[He’s] very good defensively, a hard player. He’s also really good on the ball, smart. Everything you look for in a [defensive midfielder]."

It's a great sign that even in Erick's short time in training with his new team he has already begun to make a positive impression with teammates. I'm interested to see what the DMid situation will look like when Erick joins the team on the field. Does Michel move to his natural LB position? Does AJ start to see some time on the bench? We shall see. What would you guys like to see happen to the roster with the new addition/old injuries?

The FC Dallas Academy season may have ended with a whimper (season wrap up here) but that didn't stop US Soccer from handing awards to five different Academy players across all teams, including naming Kellyn Acosta U.S. Soccer Development Academy Central Conference Player of the Year. Daniel Robertson has the story.

The U-18s had three players named to the U-17/18 Central Conference Starting XI. Along with Acosta, defender Kris Reaves earned Starting XI honors. Reaves, who is committed to play at Wake Forest after next year's 2013/2014 season, played in 27 of 30 matches for the U-18s this year, providing lockdown defense at outside back. The other honoree was forward Bobby Edet. The Furman-commit played in all 30 games for the U-18s this season and scored 17 goals, tied for the most in the Central Conference.

Congratulations to all the players honored. I for one can't wait to see what Acosta has to offer in the first team lineup.

Know Thine Enemy

Real Salt Lake enter Frisco tomorrow night as the hottest team in MLS right now with an 11 game unbeaten streak on the line. However, as our own Drew Epperly points out on FCDallas.com, RSL are without 4 of their top play-makers and have NEVER won in the state of Texas......ever.

Kreis will be hit the hardest of any MLS coach during the Gold Cup. In all, four players will be missing, all starters. Three of them are with the U.S. Men’s National Team, including ‘keeper Nick Rimando, midfielder Kyle Beckerman and defender Tony Beltran.

The other call-up is forward Alvaro Saborio, who is representing Costa Rica.

RSL will also be without Lovel Palmer due to a red card in their last game against the Union.

FCDallas.com also has their weekly Match Preview with Scott Brown up right now.

Scott brings up an important point that RSL are not the only ones going to be missing key players. Striker Blas Perez is away with Panama at the Gold Cup and will be gone for the next couple of weeks.

If you still need tickets to tomorrow's game head HERE to pick those up.

USMNT News

While RSL will be in Frisco tomorrow night the USMNT will be taking over Rio Tinto Stadium tomorrow afternoon to take on Cuba for their second group stage of the Gold Cup. The Yanks confidence is running high after the 6-1 easy win against Belize. In the aftermath of the game a bizarre story surfaced out of the Belize camp about several Belize players being offered sums of cash in exchange for throwing the match. Richard Farley at Pro Soccer Talk has the story.

As Jon Arnold pointed out on Twitter, it’s a bit strange it took us in North America two days to catch on to this story. We’re usually so sensitive about match-fixing, yet news Belize internationals were offered money to lose Tuesday’s game against the United States just started garnering attention today. That anybody would pay Belize to assure a result that was almost pre-destined is beside the point (though an interesting point in its own right). Any type of match-fixing usually sends the engines screaming out of the station.

An intriguing read to say the least. Kudos to those players who refused to cheat.

There was a major positive to come out of this game for the United State, other than winning 6-1. By playing for the US on Tuesday Norwegian-American Mix Diskerud has been officially cap tied to the US, ending speculation about his international future. Goal.com's Zac Lee Rigg reports about the occasion and on the youngsters feelings after the game.

The 22-year-old finished out 90 minutes in central midfield. After the match, he summed up his emotions succinctly.

"Fun, honored and excited," he said.

Diskerud mentioned that he had a notion he'd start at about 8 a.m. on the day of the game. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann confirmed the starting lineup by 10 a.m.

Glad to see Mix officially becoming one of our own and I look forward to seeing what he can do in the future.

Head over to MLSSoccer.com to see Matt Haiek and Matt Doyle preview tomorrow afternoon's USMNT match against Cuba.

The USMNT take on Cuba at 12:30 tomorrow afternoon on Fox Soccer.

WTF?!?!?!

It seems that fans of Sporting Lisbon will go to any lengths to ensure their young talent doesn't abandon their squad for greener pastures. Story via Kyle Bonn for Pro Soccer Talk.

The agent of Sporting Lisbon teen Bruma has claimed fans attempted to kidnap his client to prevent him from completing a move to Stamford Bridge.

According to what Catio Balde told Portuguese national radio Radio Antena 1, members of the supporters group "Juve Leo" attempted to snatch the winger from his hotel room in Portugal.

The kicker? Balde claims the kidnapping was at the request of his current club.

Balde claims the police are on the case, and that there will be charges pressed, calling it a "very serious and unpleasant matter." He also told media that "at the moment, Bruma’s mind is not on Sporting" which backs up claims that he will not be attending preseason training.

South American soccer fans have to be impressed with the commitment (and insanity) of some Sporting Lisbon fans.

Side Notes

Usually I end the updates with the WTF section but I came across a few stories that I wanted to share with everybody.

First off I want to highlight Daniel Robertson's story about FCD's nominee for the MLS W.O.R.K.S Community MVP Jacqueline Jenkins.

The FC Dallas nominee is Jacqueline Jenkins. Jacqueline is an advocate of soccer for young adults in need of stimulating, recreational-based activity. For the last eight years Jenkins has served as soccer coach for The Frisco Flyers, a Special Olympics team representing the Greater Dallas region. Coach Jenkins has a passion for the children and young adults on her team unlike any other. She offers her athletes structure, knowledge of the game and a true team experience. Jacqueline, a proponent of good sportsmanship, helps develop confidence and leadership skills.

Her desire to improve the lives of her athletes goes beyond simply coaching the game she loves. In order to provide a well-rounded experience for her team, Coach Jenkins plans annual outings to FC Dallas games and other destinations. Some of her players have even had the once-in-a-lifetime experience of taking the field at FC Dallas Stadium. Known to some of her players as Coach Jackie, Jenkins is always overjoyed by the looks on her athlete’s faces when they have the opportunity to do something as simple as touch the grass that professional soccer players compete on. Her most admirable quality is undoubtedly her passion to deliver soccer to so many and truly make a difference

If you only click on one link from this update please make it the one above and go vote for Jacqueline and the great work that she does. I have so much respect for what Jacqueline does and the world needs more people like her.

As most of you know I am a member of the Dallas Beer Guardians and one of our members (and one of my favorite ex-Pats), Dan Crooke, is a writer for UKmlssoccer.com. Dan has written an amazing two part story about the "new age" of soccer in this country and how the MLS fanbase and supporter's culture have played a huge part in that. You can read part 1 here and part 2 here.

It’s no great surprise that MLS attendances are up for the most part, Dallas even look likely to break their 18 year old average attendance record after several years dipped below 10,000. As the attendances and television demand rises, the league grows richer and a higher calibre of player is attracted. The United States are never going to allow foreigners to detract from their national team, given international slots and the academy system, so this will grow in line with the increased income. With a new generation of high class American talent to compliment this new calibre of imports, attendances will continue to rise as even the MLS-sceptics are drawn to an increasingly attractive league.

Such a great piece and an interesting perspective.

As always guys thanks for giving this a read and please let us know what you think about all the comings and going of the footy world in the comments below.

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