The FC Dallas U16 and U18 Academy teams took on Solar's academy teams in their last US Development Academy games of the season last Saturday at the Dr. Pink field outside of Pizza Hut Park.
The U18's faced off first in a game of first place vs last place, though you wouldn't have known it from the first 20 minutes. Solar opened the much stronger of the two sides and grabbed a deserved lead in the 18th minute courtesy of a beautiful Alfred Koroma header. The Southlake native who has seen time with the US U17 national team managed to get on the end of a Colton Missimo cross and Solar took the 1-0 lead.
The Solar goal would wake up FC Dallas however and within just three minutes FCD was level. Bryan Leyva was at the heart of the move for FCD dribbling through half the Solar midfield before he slid a pass to Jose Perez who slotted home past an onrushing keeper to tie the score at 1-1
Soon after FC Dallas would take the lead as Daniel Garcia was taken down in the area and Leyva finished the penalty kick low to his left to give FCD the advantage. Their lead would be doubled soon after as David "Chippy" Robledo slid a great pass to Garcia who scored his first of the game to put Dallas ahead 3-1.
Just four minutes into the second half, Chippy would have his goal as Leyva, at the middle of almost every Dallas attack, freed Robledo down the right hand side. From 10 yards out, Robledo blasted it past Zach Bennett to put Dallas up 4-1. The game was pretty much over at that point and through a fantastic 20 minute span late in the first half, Dallas scored a 4-1 victory.
Lineups and game observations after the jump as well as U16 thoughts including Emerson Hyndman's performance for the U16's.
FC Dallas U18: Eduardo Cortes(James Darby 70), Nick Rochowski, Moises Hernandez, Jack Coleman, Skylar Hagan(Christian Garcia 62), Victor Ulloa (Jesus Estrada 79), David Robledo, Bryan Leyva(Jose Gamino 75), Jose Perez (Uriel Soto 70), Victor Pinal (Flavio Guzman 60), Daniel Garcia
Solar U18: Zach Bennett, Barrett Barger, Emmet Kumeh, Jordan Moore, Brenden Lee, Colton Missimo, Ryan Condotta, Chandler Crosswalt, Daniel Forry, Mason Miller, Alfred Koroma
It's just not fair when Leyva, Ulloa and Hernandez are playing for the Juniors. You can clearly tell the professionals from the academy players when these guys play. As expected they're just at another level from just about everyone else. When you add them to the already talented Dallas team, it's just ridiculous. They never really seemed to get out of first gear in the game and still won easily.
Bryan Leyva is as good as it gets at this age group. While he's still got a ton to work on if he wants to see time with the first team, Bryan Leyva is ridiculously good at the U18 level. He was the best player for FC Dallas on this day and finished with a goal and two assists. He needs to improve his consistency and quit turning the ball over quite so much but there's not many on FC Dallas who can play as good of a through ball as Leyva.
Jose Perez and Daniel Garcia are definitely ones to watch for the future. Both are still a bit undersized, but Perez, the forgotten member of the Juniors as Al Chia would say, has very good quickness and had a great finish on Saturday. He will probably need to play in college for some seasoning but keep an eye on him in the future. Garcia has at least one year left with the Juniors and will be one I'll definitely keep an eye on as a right attacking wing player.
Alfred Koroma is every bit as good as advertised. Koroma, who spent a year in Bradenton and has played multiple times with the U17 national team, was far and away the best player on Solar. A big, strong kid who doesn't even graduate high school until 2012, Koroma is good in the air and gave Moises Hernandez fits all afternoon. On multiple occasions he received the ball near midfield and proceeded to beat three players. It's scary to think what this kid could do on FCD Juniors. If there was any international scouts in the crowd of about 200 for this game, this is the kid they'd sign out of every player on the field.
Ulloa and Hernandez had off days. Moises Hernandez, starting at center back in place of Boyd Okwuonu away with the US U18 team, struggled to contain Koroma. Beaten in the air on the goal, Hernandez looked out of place at center back and was a bit unsure of himself. I'm not really concerned about this because Moises will probably never be a center back for the first team, but I'm sure this was a good learning experience for him. Victor Ulloa never seemed to get going on Saturday and didn't make the forward runs I've seen him do in the past. Perhaps this was because he was happy to let Robledo(who I overheard was Ulloa's cousin) make the runs while he sat back.
The FC Dallas way. Once spring hits and the Academy teams are back in action you really should get out to PHP and watch the U18's for a game. After the Solar goal, they really played some amazing stuff playing a possession style offense where they would keep the ball for two minute stretches at a time. No long ball to be seen here.
The Solar U16's dispatched of FC Dallas fairly easily 2-0 in the second game with two goals from an impressive Sam Hayward. The Solar team, in first place of the U16 division, were very compact and rarely made a mistake. Sam Hayward was the star of the show, scoring two very impressive goals with the second one almost a completely individual effort. Hayward recieved the ball heading towards goal and managed to hold off one defender while faking another before cooly slotting past Caleb Underwood in goal.
FC Dallas U16: Caleb Underwood, Juan Herrera(Tanner Gardner 68), Roberto Gonzalez, Mark Ashby, Javan Toledo, William Coleman, Alex Frankenfeld(Gabriel Cano 65), Jairo Villalta, Emerson Hyndman(Francisco Rodriguez), Victor Portillo, Bobby Edet
Solar U16: Abram Esparza(Oshick Shams 41), Feliciano Charles, Reagan Dunk, Thomas Elder, Erien Campbell, Eric Dinka (Daniel Hansen 61), Zach Mathers, Cole Stringer(Mark Flores 41), Kareem Itani, Anthony Naranjo, Samuel Hayward
This is a very small FC Dallas team that needs time to develop. While there's clearly a few good players on this team, they're just not physically big enough to compete yet in my opinion. Time after time they're muscled off the ball or just not quite fast enough to get to it.
Bobby Edet is the ultimate project forward. With 8 goals in 15 games including a hat-trick vs San Jose Earthquakes earlier this year, Edet is a tall, lanky forward that clearly can score. It's going to be very interesting to watch this kid grow up as he kid of reminds you of a slower Eddie Johnson as his movements can be kind of awkward and his runs are still very poor most of the time but the kid has all the tools to succeed and I think he will improve to become a real prospect.
It was really hilarious to watch Edet and Emo Hyndman try and link up as Hyndman, a 14 year old player with the soccer mind of a 20 year old, would play fantastic through balls while Edet, a player with the body of a 20 year old and a lower soccer IQ, would make the wrong run almost every time while a frustrated Hyndman threw his hands in the air.
Speaking of Emo Hyndman... I was really excited to finally get an extended look at the kid, though he's still what he was 6 months ago...a kid with immense talent who needs time to physically mature. He terrorized the Solar defense when he got the ball in space with room to run, but he just needs more time to be able to win the balls in midfield himself rather than relying on everyone else. Hyndman is still just so small and can't even begin to compete for headed balls or play too much defense. One of these days he's going to have a growth spurt and FCD will need to sign him to a contract once he does. His first touch is sublime and he can chip a ball over the top of a defense better than half the first team player.
The problem with the U16's...is the way they attack. Unlike the 18's who have 6 or 7 players that you have to stop in attack, the 16s would just look to win the ball and get it to their 3 offensive midfielders in Hyndman, Villalta and Portillo who were way too small to compete with the Solar defensive midfielders and center backs. When they could get past the defensive mids, a ball would be played to Edet who would easily be shouldered off the ball. This is a young team that needs a year or two playing together to develop as you might expect from an under 16 side.
Overall it was a well spent Saturday afternoon watching the future of FC Dallas soccer. Stay tuned in the spring as FCD Academy returns to action with Dallas Cup and the US Development Academy Spring Showcase/Playoffs which will be at Pizza Hut Park.