Spring is upon us and with that comes the start of possibly the two biggest American youth soccer tournaments - Dallas Cup and Generation Adidas. Last year, FC Dallas’ U19 team became the first MLS youth academy to win the Gordon Jago Super Group; usually the toughest group in the tournament. As FC Dallas tries to defend their title, I wanted to bring in the resident youth expert at Big D Soccer, Ben Lyon, to catch me up to speed on this year’s teams.
Looking back to last year, how impressive was the feat for FC Dallas’ U19 to win the Super Group?
When you consider the long list of star power that has participated in Dallas Cup over the years, and the 39 players from the 2014 World Cup who’ve played in the invitational in recent years, it’s pretty damn impressive. The list of former SuperGroup champions isn’t too shabby either.
It doesn’t look like the Super Group is any easier this year with the likes of Man United, Arsenal, and Tigres all competing in it. Is it too much to ask the FC Dallas’ academy to go out and repeat what they accomplished last year?
Since the formation of the ‘Super Group’ in 1990, there have been four back-to-back champions at Dallas Cup. Clube Atletico Paranaense was the last club to pull off this feat in 2004 and 2005. If they do, it’ll be a pretty mean feat regardless of talent, familiarity, and the home field advantage.
A lot of players have moved on from last year’s team. Paxton Pomykal, Reggie Cannon and Brandon Servania are all now with the senior team. With Jesus Ferreira having surgery and being out, is there enough talent left on the team to be able to compete?
The 99’s are the cutoff for age eligibility in the Super Group so, hypothetically, Pomykal and Servania should be eligible to take part. That said, Servania also recently had surgery, and the first team might not be able to spare Paxton at the moment if he’s eligible. Those two and Ferreira would definitely be nice to have.
That being said, there are quite a few holdovers from last year’s squad, two of whom (Bryan Reynolds and Carlos Alvilez) are already on professional contracts. Many of the core players for FCD Academy’s U18/U19 team were part of the team that beat Real Madrid’s academy and the Generation Adidas Cup last year. In addition to those guys, you can expect players like Thomas Roberts (recently called into the US U18s) and Gibran Rayo (recently called into the Mexico U16s) to play up a level with the U19s in addition to this late addition to the party.
There was a mild buzz about Haiti U20 striker Ronaldo ‘Nostra’ Damus transferring to FC Dallas back in February. Damus popped up on FC Dallas’s Development Academy page in the last few days, so it appears that he might be a wild card for this team during Dallas Cup. There’s some serious raw talent there, and Damus looks like he could end up being this year’s answer to Arturo Rodriguez. He’s yet to play in a sanctioned match for the U18/19s yet though, so we’ll see.
Lastly, FC Dallas has more than just the U19 team competing in Dallas Cup. Are there any players on the U16 or any other teams that we should keep an eye on as someone who might be able to wear that FC Dallas senior squad jersey in the future?
Speaking of the Generation Adidas Cup, that starts this week as well, and the U16/17s are at least nearly as stocked as previous seasons. When Rayo was called into Mexico’s U16s, he was joined by fellow FCD academy U16 Julian Hinojosa. Beni Redzic has also been called into the US U17s, and leads the U16s with 14 goals in 12 games.
It’s easy to forget that Bryan Reynolds is still age eligible to play on this team, and you can often get an idea of who might be on the fast track based on who is playing up an age group. Notably, a couple of 03’s both have five goals in 10 games or less- Ricardo Pepi and Dante Sealy. I’ll confess that I know little about Sealy other than he’s already a big kid and he’s the son of former FC Dallas striker Scott Sealy. I know even less about Pepi, but they’re showing a similar learning curve as Ferreira and Reynolds up to this point in their respective academy careers. At this point, there are few if any signs that the academy pipeline is anywhere close to running dry.
Dallas Cup starts this Sunday with FC Dallas playing it’s first game at the Cotton Bowl against Arsenal FC. The game kicks off at 12:30pm and is the first of a triple header of games. If you have the chance, get out there and support the FC Dallas family. It’s a fun atmosphere and quite the experience to see our hometown kids going head to to head with some of the biggest clubs in the world.
Also, stay tuned into Big D as we will have plenty more coverage going forward about the tournaments.