The annual Nike Friendlies were held over the last week in Florida as part of the US Soccer Development Academy Winter Showcase with the US U-17 National Team facing England, Australia & Brazil over a week-long stretch.
Recent FC Dallas Homegrown signing Alejandro Zendejas played a huge part in the Nike Friendlies so let's take a look at his performances:
US U-17s defeat England U-17s 3-1
WATCH: USA 3 ENG 1
In the opening match, the US steamrolled England jumping out to a 2-0 halftime lead before winning 3-1. FCD midfielder Alejandro Zendejas scored the opening goal of the match on a really nice volley in the 11th minute before assisting on the third goal of the match in the 48th minute scored by Christian Pulisic.
Zendejas went 83 minutes in the match playing in an attacking two-way midfielder role for the U-17s.
U-17s come from behind to beat Australia 2-1
In the second match of the week playing a largely changed lineup, the U-17s fell behind early to Australia, but found a 15th-minute equalizer to send the match tied 1-1 at halftime.
Zendejas did not start the match, but subbed in at halftime for the U-17s who found a 69th-minute game-winner from Luca de la Torre to go 2-0 on the week at the Nike Friendlies.
U-17s fall 4-1 to Brazil in final match of Nike Friendlies
The United States needed just a draw against the Brazil U-17s to secure the Nike Friendlies trophy, but fell 4-1 to the South Americans in the final match of the week.
Richie Williams' team conceded an early goal to Evander before Christian Pulisic equalized in the 22nd minute. Another Brazil goal in the 42nd minute would send the hosts into halftime with a 2-1 lead. Two more goals in the second half sealed the emphatic win for Brazil.
Zendejas was once again in the starting lineup for this one playing all 90 minutes for the United States to finish the Nike Friendlies with nearly 2 1/2 full matches played out of the three.
We're back for part two of our 2014 FCDallas.com Editorial Awards!
Click here to read the first half and see who your esteemed panelists are.
Let's get down to business
Best Attacking Player
AG: Fabian Castillo - I don’t have enough fingers on my hands to count how many times he has beaten a defender.
OB: Fabian Castillo – The guy gave my camera shutter a run for it’s money. Even with all the settings correct, Fabian showed up as a blur of speed and energy in photos. His attacking prowess and explosiveness was too good to stop. No defender – or camera – stood a chance.
DR: Blas Perez - What else can you say about Blas? My nomination of Blas for this award is something of a lifetime achievement award for the man known as Super Raton. Through three years at FC Dallas, Blas has basically averaged a goal every other game and in 2014 he led the team in both goals and assists in MLS play. Blas turned provider this year a bit more with a career-high six assists and he finished the regular season strong with five goals in his last six games. He's about as pure a #9-style forward as we've ever seen around here.
RC: Fabian Castillo - What more can be said about the Colombian connection between Castillo and Oscar Pareja? With Pareja back as head coach Castillo shined as a winger tallying 10 goals and four assists in MLS play including a scorching summer run where he scored or assisted in 10 straight games including Lamar Hunt US Open Cup matches. Remember that counter attack goal at San Jose? Yum.
SB: Blas Perez – I was initially leaning towards Fabian for this one too, but Blas’ numbers speak for themselves. The veteran striker put up one more goal and two more assists than Castillo in 200 fewer minutes played. The future may belong to Castillo, but Perez retains the crown for now.
OB: Zach Loyd – Zach was such a thieving jerk this year. Between the scoring opportunities he took away and the balls he stole from the feet of attackers, the guy has a lot of ‘splaining to do. Only evidence left at the scene was blood, sweat and genuine hard work. File a report, FCD opponents, your offense is missing.
RC: Zach Loyd - While Matt Hedges is Team MVP, Zach Loyd is a close second and quite deserving of this award. After beginning the season at his usual right back, Loyd moved to center back without hesitation and filled in admirably alongside Hedges. His athleticism is often some of the best on the field and his speed allows him to run with forwards before poking the ball away. Hedges certainly deserves a USMNT call-up, but doesn’t Zach Loyd?
AG: Zach Loyd – This guy can play any position like no other.
SB: Matt Hedges – Hedges was the one constant on an FC Dallas backline that was constantly rotating in 2014. He’s strong, dependable, clutch – all the adjectives you want out of a center back. Again, expect him to go camping in a couple months.
DR: Matt Hedges - Nevermind best FC Dallas defender, he should be in the final three for MLS Defender of the Year.
RC: Fabian Castillo - See above. Far and away the most improved player in 2014.
SB: Fabian Castillo – This is another one that could go a couple different ways. Victor Ulloa and Moises Hernandez both have strong cases in this category, but I’m gonna fall back on the numbers again. Fabian went from two goals scored in 2013 to 10 (!) in 2014; that’s a pretty considerable jump in production. The scary thing is, you get the sense he’s still capable of more. He may very well be contending for this award next year, too.
DR: Victor Ulloa - My colleagues make some fine arguments, but considering there are many who likely wouldn't have batted much of an eye if Ulloa wasn't brought back in 2014 to now being one of the most important players on the field, I'd say that's a pretty huge improvement. Compared to where he was in that first game against Portland in early 2014, Ulloa is now imposing his will on the games and had perhaps his two best games of the season in the playoff games against Seattle. Bonus points for getting in Dempsey's face at CenturyLink Field puts him over the top.
OB: Zach Loyd – see above.
AG: Chris Seitz – Did you see that playoff game in Seattle?
2015 FC Dallas MVP
RC: Mauro Diaz - We saw what a healthy Mauro Diaz can do when he won Etihad Player of the Month in March. Can you imagine the damage he’ll do if healthy for a full season?
AG: Tesho Akindele – 8 goals his rookie season, I have a good feeling that he is going to bring the heat in 2015.
SB: Mauro Diaz – I know, I know… not exactly out on a limb on this one. Mauro showed us what he’s capable when he was named Player of the Month in March, but that was before he got hurt. If he can manage to stay healthy for the majority of 2015, he’ll probably have a couple more Player of the Month awards coming his way.
DR: Matt Hedges - Because it's still a couple years too early for Coy Craft or Kellyn Acosta, I've got to stick with the incumbent and vote Matty Hedges again in 2015. There's absolutely no reason to think he can't take the next step. A January USMNT camp call-up should lead to a CONCACAF Gold Cup appearance this summer if Hedges plays to the level he's capable of and after that the sky is the limit. Honorable mention to Tesho Akindele for this one.
OB: Mauro Diaz – After half a season in 2013 as David Ferreira’s understudy and a promising 2014, 2015 is the year Mauro Diaz wipes the floor with opposing holding midfielders and defenders of MLS. Fasten your seat belts, ladies and gents, it’s shake ’n bake time.
This is fantastic. Just watch it, that's all we can say.
What a year it was for Tesho Akindele en route to winning the club's first MLS Rookie of the Year award. Here are some of the best pictures of his 2014 rookie season:
We're down to the final four in the 2014 MLS Save of the Year competition and Raul Fernandez has made the cut for his incredible, acrobatic, stupendous and ridiculous double save at Seattle earlier this season. We might be biased, but c'mon this is the best save out of these four. Let's get Raul the win!
It's definitely award season in MLS and as we await the official MLS awards(#VoteForTesho), we thought it'd be fun here at FCDallas.com for those of us who bring you content throughout the year to give you each of our picks for FC Dallas awards in 2014. We've got seven awards and we're going to split them into two parts.
Here are your esteemed panelists(Scott & Aaron not featured in the photo):
Olivia Brestal - Graphic Design Coordinator: Olivia is responsible for all those fancy GIFs you see on Twitter. She was also the brains behind those #VoteForTesho graphics and this.
Scott Brown - Managing Editor of Digital Properties: One half of your Toyota Keys to the Match crew, Scott has been keeping his watchful eye over the team this season from high above in the Toyota Stadium press box. And he has a NWO-style Hollywood Hulk Hogan bobblehead at his desk. Respect.
Robert Casner - Marketing Manager: Formerly known as @FCDallasBeatGuy, Robert is one of the puppeteers behind the game presentation, awesome community tours and cool promotions FCD puts on. He loves FC Dallas, Alexis Sanchez and Ole Miss.
Aaron Griffin - Multimedia Manager: The third half of the TKTTM crew, Aaron is the one behind the camera and the brains that run FCDTV. He is the 2014 FCD Front Office Super Classico Goal of the Year winner, so he knows a thing or two about the beautiful game.
Daniel Robertson - Digital Content Coordinator: The other half of the TKTTM crew, Daniel(who loves to speak in third person) is both the self-proclaimed Instagram video king of MLS digital and the worst prognosticator in the history of MLS digital.
Let's do this.
2014 Team MVP
Scott B: Matt Hedges – Pareja has made a lot of great decisions for FC Dallas this year, and giving the armband to Matt is right up there with the best of them. Hedges continues to improve year-after-year. It’s kinda mind-blowing that he’s never received a national team call-up at any level. Don’t be surprised if that changes come January.
Daniel R: Matt Hedges - Through the first half of the season, Fabian Castillo would probably get the nod, but Hedges has simply been ever-present for FCD this year. Above all else, you want to have your defense in order and Hedges only solidified the award with his play in the playoff series against Seattle. January camp, Klinsi. Make it happen.
Robert C: Matt Hedges - Paging Coach Klinsmann! Hedges has improved drastically in each of his first three years and in 2014 he showed how valuable he is to this team. He wins headers, sniffs out passes before they happen, and organizes everyone in front of him. He got the captain’s band in the middle of the season and never looked back. I know what I’m thankful this holiday season….Matty freakin Hedges!
Aaron G: Matt Hedges - Captain and heart of our backline, to shut down Seattle in the playoffs is saying a lot. We are still waiting for the call up Jurgen…
Olivia B: Matt Hedges – My explanation for this choice is going to be as short as the amount of time attackers had on the ball when Hedges was on the scene – and because I don’t have enough time to write out all my reasonings AND call Jurgen Klinsmann.
U-23 Player of the Year
RC: Victor Ulloa - Vic came into preseason without a guaranteed contract and finished the 2014 season locked down in the central midfield position with 26 starts. The Wylie native and quickly-rising fan favorite displayed patience in his ball distribution and a maturity level that will make him a mainstay on the field in 2015.
OB: Fabian Castillo – see below.
SB: Fabian Castillo – This might be the toughest one to pick on a team that’s so stacked with young talent, but this one has to go to Fabi. He checked in at third on MLSsoccer.com’s 24 Under 24 this year, but Castillo was definitely FCD’s best player under 23 in 2014.
DR: Fabian Castillo - Before I explain this one, let me note that in 2014 FCD could've put together a U-23 team that could absolutely compete in MLS and that's pretty ridiculous. I went back and forth on this one as there are three or even four players that deserve serious consideration for this one, but I had to go with Fabi. He took the step forward in 2014 that we were all hoping and expecting. In 31 combined MLS & LHUSOC games, Fabian had 14 goals and 7 assists including his incredible ten-game streak with a goal or an asisst through the summer.
AG: Victor Ulloa - Started from the bottom now he’s here.
RC: Je-Vaughn Watson - Call him the ultimate utility player. Midfield, defense, it doesn’t matter where you put Je-Vaughn he’ll use his physical nature and ridiculous speed to make the position work. At right back, Watson ran with the fastest wingers and then hauled back down the other end to assist the powerful FC Dallas counterattack. He wasn’t always the center of attention on the field, but his efforts on both sides of the ball haven’t gone unnoticed.
SB: Victor Ulloa – The Ballad of Victor Ulloa isn’t quite as unsung as it was just a few weeks ago (Examples here, here and here). After getting his opportunity through injuries and suspensions in the defensive midfield Victor came seemingly out of nowhere (zero starts in 2011-13, 26 starts in 2014) to become arguably the best FC Dallas Homegrown product to date.
AG: Moises Hernandez – More often than not, he was at the right place at the right time.
DR: Chris Seitz - His heroic deeds off the field are well-documented, but in 2014 Seitz proved that he won't simply be known for that selfless act. Chris had his best year as a professional showing FC Dallas has a bevy of legitimate MLS starting-caliber goalkeepers on the roster posting a 10-4-4 record in MLS, playoffs and LHUSOC play with four shutouts. In fact, since the start of 2013, Seitz is 16-7-6 in MLS, playoffs and USOC play. Very, very impressive. Huge honorable mention goes to Je-Vaughn Watson who finished second on the team in minutes played this year.
OB: Victor Ulloa – When he came in for a banged up midfield mid-season, people assumed they’d get the hesitant play of a young homegrown, but what they got was Shutdown Central: Party of 1. Plus anyone who gets in a mini WWE smackdown with Clint Dempsey in the Western Conference Semifinals – and wins – is an unsung hero in my book.
Stay tuned next week for part 2 of our awards featuring best defender, most improved & more!
With the top pick in the Chivas USA Dispersal Draft, FC Dallas selected long-time Chivas USA goalkeeper Dan Kennedy.
Stay tuned for much more, but Kennedy has posted 25 shutouts in his last four seasons at Chivas USA and earned an MLS All-Star Game appearance in 2012.
2014 Chivas USA Dispersal Draft results
|1||FC Dallas||Dan Kennedy|
|2||New York City FC||Matthew Dunn|
|4||D.C. United||Thomas McNamara|
|5||New England Revolution||PASS|
|6||Montreal Impact||Donny Toia|
|7||Orlando City SC||PASS|
|8||Colorado Rapids||Caleb Calvert|
|9||San Jose Earthquakes||Kristopher Tyrpak|
|10||Real Salt Lake||PASS|
|14||Toronto FC||Marco Delgado|
|15||Columbus Crew SC||PASS|
|18||New York Red Bulls||PASS|
|19||Seattle Sounders FC||PASS|
|20||Vancouver Whitecaps FC||PASS|
The first big step towards the 2015 season takes place today as MLS holds the Chivas USA Dispersal Draft. Through a bit of good fortune, FC Dallas holds the top spot meaning we have first choice at Chivas USA players(minus Erick Torres). MLSsoccer.com has an excellent look at the Chivas USA roster, so be sure to take a look at that as well before today's 3:00PM central time draft held by private conference call.
Let's take a look at the different directions Oscar Pareja, Fernando Clavijo and the FCD technical staff can go with this one.
The best player
There's a train of thought in sports that in any draft you take the best player available regardless of position and there's certainly plenty of merit in that line of thinking. You assemble a squad with the best collection of talent and work the pieces out later because something ALWAYS goes wrong(though Oscar Pareja seems to always turn these into positives).
If you go with the best player theory, then the choice is very likely to be Dan Kennedy. Still just 32 years old, relatively young for a goalkeeper, Kennedy has been the face of Chivas USA for the past half-decade. The all-time leader in appearances for the franchise, the UCSB graduate has missed only eight games in the past four seasons and has averaged over six shutouts a season in that time span.
Yes, FC Dallas already has two starting-level goalkeepers and a strong future prospect in Jesse Gonzalez, but adding someone as talented as Kennedy gives you a lot of options going forward with a long time between now and March 2015 to work everything out.
Oscar Pareja has shown with his quotes and actions that he's not afraid to play young players and it's something he embraces. If FCD wants to add yet another young hotshot to the roster, then Chivas USA has some nice ones to choose from. Midfielder Marco Delgado is still just 19 and has already amassed 37 appearances in MLS including three goals, one of which was scored at Toyota Stadium this year.
There are certainly red flags with Delgado as he has the dreaded "no defined postion" label on him and underwent season-ending knee surgery in September, but he's still a US U-20 mainstay and a hugely talented player.
Another young and interesting prospect is forward Caleb Calvert. The 6-2 California native dominated the US Soccer Development Academy earning a Homegrown contract with Chivas USA. He just turned 18 and has a very bright future if FCD wants to go that route.
The proven commodities
Despite their record, though it wasn't as bad as some may think, Chivas USA certainly has some nice, solid veterans that could help any MLS team. FC Dallas fans will be very familiar with winger Marvin Chavez who had a fantastic run with the team through the 2010 MLS Cup season, and you'd think he could still certainly play a role with the team who utilizes their wingers more than most.
If FC Dallas is looking for a backup to Mauro Diaz, Martin Rivero isn't a bad place to look. The 25-year-old Argentine was brought to MLS in Oscar Pareja's first season in Colorado so there's certainly a familiarity there, and he's been up and down in MLS but did have eight assists in that first season. He's coming off an ACL tear in July, but at 25 there's certainly plenty of talent left in those legs.
FCD could upgrade their defensive depth by adding Bobby Burling, a 30-year-old center back with over 100 MLS games to his name. He likely wouldn't unseat any of FCD's incumbent center backs, but could add some solid, veteran depth to the back line.
The wild cards
There's two offensive names that intrigue me on Chivas USA. Argentine winger Leandro Barrera is the first one. Just 23 years old, Barrera can play anywhere up and down the left side of the field and he brings a speedy spark off the bench that Oscar Pareja would love. He played over 2,000 minutes with Chivas USA this year, joining them from the Argentine First Division and certainly had some bright moments on a team that really struggled for offense. Put him in with this FC Dallas team and you could see him doing very well.
The other interesting name is Tommy McNamara. The name on everyone's lips for rookie of the year through the first month of the season, McNamara started the first six games of his rookie year before tearing his ACL. He was extremely active as a withdrawn forward/attacking midfielder, scored a goal on his MLS debut and was a player everyone was talking about before his injury. Only 23 years old, he's a player that could end up being a steal for someone....and that haircut, yes.
Aaron Griffin and FCDTV bring you the best video of every year, the 2014 All FC Dallas MLS Goals video:
The 2014 MLS season is over for FC Dallas, but some players are still playing in 2014 as we go through the final international window of the year.
Je-Vaughn and Reggae Boyz Advance
Je-Vaughn Watson and Jamaica had a busy week hosting the finals of the 2014 Carribean Cup.
After missing the first of three games, Je-Vaughn went 90 minutes in Jamaica's 2-0 win over Antigua & Barbuda on Friday night. The win set up a crucial match with Haiti on Sunday night in Montego Bay in which the winner would advance to the 2014 Carribean Cup Championship.
Je-Vaughn was once again in the starting lineup as Jamaica defeated Haiti 2-0 to set up a championship match against rivals Trinidad & Tobago on Tuesday.
Having finished in the top four, Jamaica has automatically qualified for next year's CONCACAF Gold Cup and the winner of Tuesday's match will earn a spot in the 2016 Copa America Centenario to be held in the United States.
Acosta captains US U-20s in win vs Ireland
WATCH: US U20 1, IRE U20 0
As you can see from the highlights, Kellyn was very active in the match playing in central midfield and had two nice scoring chances.
The US U-20s will wrap up their week in Spain on Tuesday in a friendly against the Canadian U-20 national team.
CONCACAF U-20 World Cup Qualifying starts in February for the US U-20's.
Raul Fernandez did not feature in goal in Peru's 2-1 loss to Paraguay, but he figures to play in Tuesday's return fixture between the two teams in Lima.