It's about that time again. The college soccer season starts this weekend with exhibition matches before things truly get ramped up across the nation and here at FCDallas.com we'll do our best to keep you up to date on everything our FCD Academy alumni are doing in the college game.
One of the brightest stars for FC Dallas is Boyd "OC" Okwuono, a senior defender at North Carolina. The Edmond, OK native who was a part of the FCD U-18 team that went to the USSDA national championship in 2011, has had an illustrious college career earning ACC Defender of the Year in 2013, two-time All-ACC honors and a national championship in 2011 playing next to a defender FCD fans might be familiar with named Matt Hedges.
In this, his senior season, OC has been named to the pre-season watch list for college soccer's version of the Heisman, the MAC Hermann Trophy. Certainly one to watch for FCD fans as a possible Homegrown signing after his senior season is done at UNC, Okwuono and the Tar Heels begin 2014 season play on Friday, August 29th as they'll host California and UCLA over the first weekend of the season.
TONIGHT at Toyota Stadium it's the semifinals of the 101st edition of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup as FC Dallas hosts Philadelphia for the second time in a month with a chance to host the LHUSOC Final on the line for the winner. Both teams have defeated three teams to get to this point so let's take a look back and see how each team arrived at tonight's big game in Frisco.
WATCH: FCD 2, Scorpions 0
It took FC Dallas quite a bit of effort to shake off the plucky side that currently sits in first place in the NASL, but Oscar Pareja's men wore down the Scorpions after a scoreless first half and eventually found a pair of goals through the Colombian connection of Fabian Castillo and Andres Escobar.
This win was Dallas' first ever against San Antonio and helped set up a Texas Derby in the fifth round of the tournament.
The scoreline is impressive, but the Union nearly crashed out at the first stage of their Open Cup journey.
An 89th minute goal from Maurice Edue saved Philadelphia embarassment and they went on to score twice in 30 minutes of extra time to beat their USL Pro affiliate.
Andrew Wenger scored in the 110th and 117th minutes to seal the victory setting up another home match against the NASL's New York Cosmos.
In another epic edition of the Texas Derby, FC Dallas prevailed for the fourth straight time and second straight in the LHUSOC with a 3-2 win after extra time.
A see-saw battle typical of FCD vs Houston matchups saw Dallas take the lead at BBVA Compass Stadium in the 35th minute through Fabian Castillo's slalomed effort. The Dynamo tied the game up before halftime, but Andres Escobar restored FCD's lead in the 59th minute with a screamer of a strike. Omar Cummings once against tied up the game just three minutes later and we headed for extra time.
Tesho Akindele wrote another chapter to his wonderful rookie season with a 98th minute game-winner and FCD moved on to the quarterfinals.
Once again, the Union needed extra time to see off their lower-league opponent, beating the NASL's New York Cosmos 2-1 in a wild match at PPL Park. Both sides tallied in a two-minute span in the second half sending the match to extra time where things really got nutty.
Sebastien Le Toux scored a game-winner in the 114th minute from the penalty spot, but that's only half the story. The 30 minutes of extra time saw five red cards and two yellow cards dished out in a wild match that saw Philadelphia move on to the quarterfinals where they were set to host the New England Revolution.
WATCH: FCD 5, Carolina 2
While lower league sides look easy on paper, this matchup against Carolina was anything but as FC Dallas would travel to a Railhawks team that had not lost at home in 24 games. Carolina came out and took the lead early in the match, but Blas Perez fired back for two goals and Fabian Castillo added a third to send a wild game to halftime with FCD leading 3-2.
Dallas took control in the second half and found goals from Mauro Diaz and Blas Perez to complete his hat trick and send FCD to tonight's semifinal matchup, the eighth LHUSOC semifinal in team history.
The Union scored a relatively straight-forward 2-0 win over the Revolution with goals in either half from Conor Casey and Sebastien Le Toux. The crazy part of this game surrounded an hour-long weather delay that saw a dust storm invade PPL Park.
It's been a very good month for Matt Hedges and the FC Dallas defense.
Led by the towering center back, the Dallas D has allowed just one non-PK goal in their last four matches. Hedges led all players with 12 clearances on Saturday night, had his goal-saving clearance off the line and added a poacher's goal of his own to complete his night.
For Brazilian midfielder Michel, it was a man-of-the-match offensive performance with a goal and two psuedo-assists on crosses that led to goals. Those won't show up in the stat sheet, but Michel had a direct hand in all three FC Dallas goals.
Both players have earned spots on the MLSsoccer.com Week 22 Team of the Week for their efforts. Congratulations to both! Here's what MLSsoccer.com had to say:
D: Matt Hedges (FC Dallas) – He was the rock of the Dallas defense and even got into the offensive action, tapping in the opener from close range. Hedges also had a goal-line clearance as FCD beat Colorado 3-1.
M: Michel (FC Dallas) – The Brazilian was instrumental in all of Dallas' goals: He provided the cross from wide that led to Hedges' tap in, converted the PK himself and sent in the cross that led to the third.
Here are the photos from FCD's Special Olympics match vs Colorado. All pictures by Olivia Brestal, Erik Davila & Craig Marcho:
Hear from Pareja, Zimmerman and Hedges after FCD's big 3-1 win over Colorado:
FC Dallas is finally back home after two weekends on the road for a crucial Western Conference matchup against the Colorado Rapids pres. by Raytheon on Saturday night at Toyota Stadium! Here are the 10 things you need to know before heading to the stadium Saturday night:
1. Saturday's match is presented by Raytheon and it's first responder night at Toyota Stadium! Raytheon will have t-shirts to give away by the fire truck on Lamar's Tailgate while supplies last. Stop by, get your t-shirt and take a picture and tag it with #RaytheonProtect&Serve.
2. In conjunction with Raytheon on first responder night, Chief Mark Piland of the Frisco Fire Department will be scarfing the Lamar Hunt Statue so be sure to arrive early for that ceremony around 7:30 on Lamar's Tailgate.
3. Saturday's match is part of our #SODoubleHeader as directly after Saturday's MLS match, our FC Dallas Special Olympics team will play the Colorado Rapids Special Olympics team in their annual match. It's going to be an amazing event with presentation exactly the same as the first team match so all #DTID fans need to stay and cheer on our Special Olympics team.
4. You can win a pair of tickets to our Lamar Hunt US Open Cup Semifinal match vs Philadelphia on Tuesday plus an FC Dallas scarf at our #SODoubleHeader Special Olympics match. Click here to see how.
5. This match against Colorado is about as big as it gets for an August game in the standings for FC Dallas. FCD is currently three points above Colorado tied for fourth place in the Western Conference and FCD is ready for this six-pointer.
6. While parking is always free for everyone at Toyota Stadium, our Toyota drivers out there can enjoy FREE upgraded parking in the Camry Gold Lot tonight. The Camry Gold Lot is directly NW of the stadium adjacent to the Dr. Pink field.
7. Our new August Scarf of the Month will be on sale for the first time in the team store tomorrow so stop by and get yourself one before they sell out!
8. We could hit triple digits for the first time on an FCD gameday on Saturday, but we're #RedFor90 and ready for it. Will Colorado be ready?
9. Saturday's game is set for an 8:00PM kickoff and will be broadcast in HD locally on Time Warner Cable Sports Channel 148 as well as 100.7FM(English) & 1270AM(Spanish).
10. We're looking at another really nice crowd for Saturday's match, but there are still tickets available by clicking here.
Hear from Pareja, Hedges & Tesho ahead of #FCDvCOL with FCDTV's Quick Kicks:
Here's your Keys to the Match pres. by Toyota for Saturday's big game:
Four FC Dallas Academy members had the amazing honor of being called into the Generation adidas ESP Showcase taking place in Portland around the MLS All-Star Game activities this week and for one FC Dallas U-14 Academy member, the experience was made even more special.
Defender Mark Salas was invited to play on the Bayern Munich U-16 team for the second half of one of the ESP Showcase games, an experience he'll never forget.
"It was a great experience because I was playing with older guys who were born in 1998 and in our first game my team was going to play against Bayern Munich but they needed extra players so they invited me to play with them," said Salas. "I played the second half with them and it was a great experience because they’re to me the best club in the world and it was great because they’re really good with the ball. What I learned from them is how important it is to keep the ball in tight spaces with high pressure."
Salas, a defender with US U-15 National Team experience, was also one of four FC Dallas players who had the amazing chance to be taught from one of the best. Bayern Munich's legendary coach Pep Guardiola led the boys for 15 minutes in a 7v7 training session.
"We played 7v7 and he emphasized that if you can play the ball with one touch to do that and to always take quick touches," said Salas. "It was really fun."
Salas and the three other FCD youngsters, Carlos Avilez, Damian Hernandez and Lamar Batista will watch Wednesday's All-Star Game vs Bayern Munich in person before coming back to Dallas on Thursday.
(Salas, Hernandez, Avilez, Batista)
Two FC Dallas players will have their eyes looking south tonight as Blas Perez's Panama battles Peru's Raul Fernandez in an international friendly between the sides in Lima. Obviously neither Blas nor Raul who returned to the training field on Wednesday in preparation for Saturday's match against Colorado were called in for the game which features mainly domestic teams, but they'll still be rooting on their countries from here in Dallas.
"Obviously Peru!" Fernandez said with a smile when asked who would win tonight. "It’s a great game and they called up a team of guys who are new to the national team to come together and see how they play. It should be a good game."
For Panama, the match is a first for new manager Hernan "Bolillo" Gomez as Panama prepares for September's Copa Centroamerica which will serve as a qualifier for the 2015 Gold Cup.
"It’s the first game of a new cycle for Panama with young players who play locally and are very hungry to wear the shirt of the country," said Perez through a translator. "They’re young players getting their first opportunity to prove themselves to a new coach so it’s a good opportunity for everyone."
As for the friendly rivalry between the two, they diplomatically said they wouldn't put anything on the line for tonight's match since they're not playing in it.
"Since neither of us are playing in the game we won’t put anything on it and just enjoy," said Perez. "We’re brothers here at FC Dallas, so we will just have fun with it."