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Dr Pepper Dallas Cup: FC Dallas U18 Preview

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The Dallas Cup begins this weekend for the FC Dallas U18s.

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It's that time of year again! The Dr Pepper Dallas Cup 2016 is here and the FC Dallas Academy U18s are once again in the Gordon Jago Super Group, the toughest group you can be placed in.

The Dallas Cup is where you can see superstars in the making. Players that have participated in this competition include guys like Wayne Rooney, Andrea Pirlo, and Raul just to name a few. There are over 900 international players each year. There has been teams from 47 states, 100 countries, and six continents in tournament history. It's safe to say it's kind of a big deal.

So, who are the other teams in FCD's group? There is 11 other clubs who will join the FCD U18s in the elite group. Every group within the Gordon Jago Super Group is diverse and competitive. None are easy by any means. Let's take a brief look at each group.

Group A

CF Monterrey (Mexico) | Fulham FC (England) | TSG 1899 Hoffenheim (Germany) | US National Team U20 (USA)

Monterrey is always a tough opponent. They will look to win the whole competition this year after losing in the final last year to Coritiba FC (Brazil) 3-1. Fulham's U18s are also very strong this year. They are currently second in the table of Group 1 in the Final Stage of the Barclays U18 Premier League, which is the highest group you could advance to after the Group Stage. German teams are always disciplined and organized, so Hoffenheim will be hard to beat. Hoffenheim currently sits second in their division in the U19 Bundesliga. Finally, the USMNT U20s, led by head coach Tab Ramos, will compete in Group A. You can view the roster named to participate here. Two names that jump out, and are definitely ones to keep an eye on in this tournament, are defender Matt Olosunde who just joined Manchester United and midfielder Josh Perez from Florentina.

Group B

Everton (England) | Kyoto Sanga FC (Japan) | Real Salt Lake (USA) | Tigres (Mexico)

Everton, like Fulham, is currently in Group 1 as well in the Final Stage of the U18 BPL. They currently sit fifth, but the Final Stage has only just begun. Everton were knocked out in the semifinals of the Dallas Cup last year 1-0 by eventual champion, Coritiba. Japanese clubs are not to be underestimated. As we saw in the Copa Chivas, Urawa Reds of Japan faired very well, losing in the semifinals on penalties to eventual champions, FC Midtjylland. Kyoto Sanga should not be looked over. Real Salt Lake's U18s have the top scorer in the US Soccer Development Academy league in Elijah Rice who has scored 20 goals in 19 games played. Tigres are the reigning champions of Liga MX, and their youth squads are consistently talented. Tigres currently leads their academy league.

Group C

FC Dallas (USA) | Fluminese FC (Brazil) | Middlesbrough FC (England) | Queretaro FC (Mexico)

Alright, finally to FCD's group. If I had to give one of these groups the title of "Group of Death," this might be the one. Although, it's a close call with Group A stacked as well. Brazil sides like Fluminese are always very talented and always give FCD problems. Fluminese may more than others and are arguably the best side in this competition. Fluminese were recently crowned Brazilian Academy Champions. Middlesbrough are making their Dallas Cup debut. They advanced to Group 2 of the Final Stage of the U18 BPL, but they are the most recent champions of that competition, winning it last year. Again, Mexican sides can always be tricky to beat, even at this level for US sides. Queretaro finished first in the Liga MX U20 Apertura regular season. FCD has a very challenging road ahead, but they are talented themselves and hosting. Still, it will be a very tough task to advance for the team that won the USSDA as U16s last year. Led by head coach Francisco Molina, the U18s currently sit second in their division in the USSDA. We've mentioned these names before, but a few of the players to watch are Weston McKinnie, Devin Vega, and Toshiki Yasuda. It's unknown whether FC Dallas' Homegrowns Alex Zendejas and Coy Craft will play for the U18s. Although we're pretty sure Zendejas is still injured and Craft is still recovering and might not be ready just yet. The U18s would very much welcome the help of those two. We'll update you when we know, although rosters are final on Saturday.

The winner of each group, plus a wildcard (non-group winning club that finishes with the most points), will advance to the semifinals held at the home of FC Dallas, Toyota Stadium, in Frisco, Texas. The winners from those semifinals will advance to the final, which is also held at Toyota Stadium, on March 27 at 6:00pm.

The 37th Dallas Cup begins March 20 and concludes March 27. The FC Dallas U18s begin play at the Cotton Bowl at 12:30pm vs. Fluminese FC. You can see the rest of their schedule here. Tickets can be purchased here.

Also, the 2016 Generation adidas Cup begins Friday in Frisco at Toyota Soccer Center. The FC Dallas Academy U16s advanced to the Championship Division of that tournament by defeating Houston Dynamo's U18s. They are in Group A with Valencia, Toronto FC, and Mexico U17s. You can see the rest of the groups and the schedule here. Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira (yes, David Ferreira's son) will lead the way.