By Jeremy Villanueva
FC Dallas may not have a home game tonight, but Toyota Stadium will be packed as four international sides begin their Gold Cup journey.
Panama, Haiti, Honduras and the United States were welcomed to Toyota Stadium and Toyota Soccer Center this week as they prepare for tonight’s doubleheader.
“It’s fantastic to see the community involved in the games and to see a training ground full of people coming to see the national teams train and having competition,” FC Dallas head coach Oscar Pareja said. “…[It’s a] real cup, so it’s great to see how our community can take that opportunity. I like it.”
Five players will represent FCD in the tournament, including forward Blas Perez who will essentially play a home game tonight as his Panamanian squad takes on Haiti. Defender Je-Vaughn Watson, forward Tesho Akindele and midfielder Kyle Bekker open their group stage matches for their respective nations Wednesday. Defender Moises Hernandez will join in on the tournament in Guatemala’s first match Thursday.
“The first time they’re going to play in a Gold Cup for Tesho and Mo means a lot for the club to see how these guys are gaining their spot in the international stage,” Pareja said. “With Blas, Je-Vaughn and Kyle, this is the same. We’re still proud to have players who are important in their national team roster.”
Panama and Haiti will kick off the tournament at 6:00 p.m. tonight(FOX Sports 2) followed by the US and Honduras at 8:30 p.m(FOX Sports 1).
The FC Dallas trio of World Cup qualifiers all wrapped up the second leg of their national team duties this week. Tesho Akindele, Moises Hernandez and Atiba Harris all played major roles with their respective national teams.
Akindele and the Canadian team defeated Dominica 4-0 on Tuesday night with the FC Dallas forward scoring his first goal on the international stage and setting up Tosaint Ricketts with a point-blank finish. Team Canada advanced to the next stage of qualifying with an aggregate score of 6-0 in the two-leg series over Dominica.
Hernandez and Guatemala played a winner-take-all match against Bermuda on Monday. The FCD defender sent a high-arcing pass into the box to set up the lone goal of the match – sending Guatemala to the next round on a 1-0 aggregate score.
Harris and the St. Kitts & Nevis team dropped the second leg of their qualifier against El Salvador, 4-1 – losing the aggregate score 6-3 in the two legs. Harris – the captain of his squad – tried to mount a comeback, scoring in the 69th minute with St. Kitts & Nevis down 3-0, but the smallest sovereign state in the Americas failed to advance to the next round of qualifying.
The draw for the third round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying will be held on July 25, with the field now narrowed to ten teams.
The FC Dallas Academy is unquestionably among the top in American soccer having signed more Homegrown players than any other team and played more Homegrown minutes than any other team in 2014, but one thing the Academy hasn't produced is a full first team international player. That could all change this week as Moises Hernandez has been called in to the Guatemala National Team squad for friendlies against Canada and El Salvador.
It's another milestone that is huge for both Hernandez and his club, FC Dallas.
"It’s another big step for him and a step that I hope he can take the best way possible to get more mature," said head coach Oscar Pareja. "To understand the responsibilities with his club, himself, his family and now with his country."
Hernandez has taken a winding road to breaking through with the FCD first team having had loan stints in both Guatemala and Costa Rica, but over the last 12 months the 23-year-old has blossomed into a key player for Pareja's side playing every minute of the first three games of 2015 for a Dallas side that is 3-0-0 with just one goal allowed.
"I think the club should be very proud to have a product of the academy exposed to the national team level and not just the USA but abroad," said Pareja. "That pride should be carried by the whole club."
Hernandez and Guatemala will play Canada in Fort Lauderdale at 3:30PM on Friday before playing El Salvador at the StubHub Center in Carson, CA on March 31.
FULL LIST OF INTERNATIONAL MATCHES FOR FC DALLAS PLAYERS
Kyle Bekker - Canada
Kyle Bekker and the Canadian National Team will be the aforementioned Guatemala National Team on Friday afternoon in Fort Lauderale and then will play Puerto Rico on March 30th at 5:30 in Puerto Rico.
Atiba Harris - St. Kitts & Nevis
Amazingly, Harris is a part of some of the first games in 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying this week as St. Kitts & Nevis battle against the Turks & Caicos Islands in the first round of qualifying.
St. Kitts & Nevis rolled in the first leg on Tuesday scoring a 6-2 win in Basseterre. Atiba scored the first goal of the match in the 18th minute and his side will contest the second leg on March 26th. The winner of the two-leg series will face El Salvador in another two-leg series this summer.
Blas Perez - Panama
Blas Perez and Panama face Trinidad & Tobago on March 27th in the Carribean island before battling CONCACAF rival Costa Rica in Panama City on March 31.
Je-Vaughn Watson - Jamaica
Je-Vaughn Watson and Jamaica begin final preparations for the 2015 Copa America with a pair of friendlies in Montego Bay vs Venezuela and Cuba. The Reggae Boyz will battle Venezuela on Friday night and then face Cuba on Monday, both at the Montego Bay Sports Complex.
Mexico continued their recent dominance of the CONCACAF U-20 championships winning their third in a row as they topped Panama in PKs on Saturday in Jamaica.
FC Dallas Homegrown goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez proved to be one of the heroes as the netminder saved two PKs in the shootout that saw El Tri take home the trophy.
Gonzalez allowed just three goals in five games for El Tri posting two shutouts for the eventual champions who easily qualified for the U20 World Cup this summer in New Zealand.
USA books a spot in New Zealand with win over El Salvador
Despite a rough start, the US U-20s rebounded fantastically well and sealed their spot in New Zealand with a 2-0 win over El Salvador in the winner-take-all knockout game.
Though Kellyn Acosta was forced to miss the second half of the tournament, he expressed his excitement on Twitter yesterday after the US qualified.
US Soccer U-20 Men's National Team head coach Tab Ramos has named his squad for the CONCACAF U-20 Championship which begins on Friday in Jamaica and, as expected, FC Dallas Homegrown midfielder Kellyn Acosta was one of the 20 players named for the tournament which serves as qualifying for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
Acosta, who was also named as the captain, is one of two players who were also a part of the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup team and is expected to start at central midfield for Tab Ramos' side. Kellyn is not the only player with FC Dallas ties on the roster as former FC Dallas Academy midfielder and Dallas native Emerson Hyndman of Fulham FC was also named to the squad setting up what could be an all-Dallas central midfield duo.
The U-20s get the tournament started on Friday, January 9th and will play Guatemala, Panama, Aruba, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago between the 9th and 22nd with all games broadcast live on Fox Sports 2.
Acosta joins Mexican goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez as the two FC Dallas Homegrowns playing in the tournament.
Full release from US Soccer:
CHICAGO (Jan. 5, 2015) – U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team head coach Tab Ramos has named the 20-player roster for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championship running Jan. 9-24 in Jamaica. All five of the USA’s matches will be broadcast on Fox Sports 2. Fans can also follow the action on twitter at @ussoccer_ynt.
The USA has been drawn into Group A along with Jamaica, Trinidad & Tobago, Aruba, Panama and Guatemala. The U.S. opens against Guatemala on Jan. 9, followed by Panama (Jan. 11), Aruba (Jan. 14), Jamaica (Jan. 18) and Trinidad & Tobago (Jan. 21).
"Selecting the final 20 players was extremely difficult,” said Ramos. “This is a group that has a lot of depth. It's a group that has gotten good results throughout the last 12 to 14 months, regardless of the players we've had in. A lot of players have made a good case for being on the team, but in the end, unfortunately, you can only take so many (players). I am very happy with the group we've selected.
“Overall, this is a group made up mostly with professional players, and that's a strength. These are players who are completely dedicated to the sport; players who 100 percent of the time prepare to do well, to get better, and be on the National Team.”
- Tab Ramos Q&A: U-20 MNT Ready for World Cup Qualifying
Four countries will directly qualify from this tournament for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand. The USA is looking to qualify for its 14th trip to a FIFA World Youth Championship or FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The U.S. roster includes two members of the USA’s 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup team in midfielder Kellyn Acosta and goalkeeper Zack Steffen. Ramos has named Acosta the team captain for the qualifying tournament. Acosta was also a member of the USA’s 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup team, which advanced out of qualifying in Jamaica. Steffen posted a 3-0-1 record for the U-20s in 2014, earning a pair of shutouts during the USA’s championship run at the 2014 National Training Center Invitational in Carson, California – a 4-0 win against Bermuda and a scoreless draw against Australia.
Six players on the USA roster represent clubs in Major League Soccer: defenders Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls) and Tyler Turner (Orlando City SC), midfielders Acosta (FC Dallas) and Romain Gall (Columbus Crew), and forwards Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy) and Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes). Gall was the U-20 MNT’s leading goal scorer in 2014 with four tallies in international competition.
Four U-20 MNT players are teammates on Liga MX side Club Tijuana: forwards Paul Arriola and Amando Moreno, midfielder Fernando Arce and defender John Requejo.
U.S. U-20 MNT Roster by Position:
GOALKEEPERS (2): Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), Zack Steffen (SC Freiburg)
DEFENDERS (6): Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Conor Donovan (N.C. State), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Shaquell Moore (Unattached), John Requejo (Club Tijuana), Tyler Turner (Orlando City)
MIDFIELDERS (7): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Fernando Arce (Club Tijuana), Russell Canouse (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), Junior Flores (Borussia Dortmund), Romain Gall (Columbus Crew), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Emerson Hyndman (Fulham)
FORWARDS (5): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Bradford Jamieson IV (LA Galaxy), Amando Moreno (Club Tijuana), Ben Spencer (Molde FK), Tommy Thompson (San Jose Earthquakes)
The U-20s went 6-1-2 in international competition and 12-2-2 overall in 2014.
The USA was the runner-up to Mexico at the 2013 CONCACAF U-20 Championship and advanced to the 2013 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey, where the U.S. earned a draw against eventually World Cup winner France.
This year marks the 25th occasion in which the U.S. U-20 MNT is competing in the CONCACAF Youth Tournament or Championship. The USA has earned second place in the qualification tournament six times (1980, 1982, 1986, 1992, 2009, 2013), but has yet to win a CONCACAF U-20 Championship title.
Qualifying Format Change: The CONCACAF U-20 Championship format has changed for 2015 and is now comprises two groups of six teams. Previous tournaments featured four groups of three teams. Under the new setup, the first-place teams in Group A and Group B will automatically qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup and advance to face each other in the CONCACAF U-20 Championship Final. The second- and third-place teams in each group (four teams) will be reseeded based on group-stage results to form a playoff group. In this playoff stage, the top seed will play the No. 4 seed and the second seed will face the No. 3 seed. The two winners from these respective games will also qualify for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Eyes on New Zealand 2015: The U.S. has qualified for 13 FIFA World Youth Championships/FIFA U-20 World Cups and has its sights set on No. 14 in 2015. The 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand will be held from May 30-June 20 in Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Wellington and Whangarei. The final draw will be held on Feb. 10. The USA’s best World Cup finish was a fourth-place performance at the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship.
It's almost time for the 2015 CONCACAF U-20 Championships as the North American soccer scene starts to awake from the holiday slumber and FC Dallas Homegrowns will once again play a big part in the tournament which serves as qualifiying for the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.
The Mexico roster was released just a few days ago and for the second-straight cycle, an FC Dallas Homegrown goalkeeper will be between the pipes for El Tri.
Jesse Gonzalez has been called up for the Mexico U-20s as one of two goalkeepers for a Mexico team that will face Cuba, Canada, Honduras, El Salvador and Haiti from January 10th through 22nd with the top team from each group advancing to the U20 World Cup and the next four teams playing in playoff matches to also earn spots in the tournament.
The Unites States U-20 CONCACAF Championship team is set to be announced on Monday with Kellyn Acosta expected to be one of the midfield captains for Tab Ramos' squad.
In front of an enormous crowd of 81,410 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, FC Dallas forward Blas Perez scored in the first half as Panama defeated Mexico 2-1 in the 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals. This all-important win sends Panama to their second Gold Cup Final where they'll face the United States who cruised to a 3-1 victory thanks to a pair of goals from Landon Donovan, the hottest player in US Soccer.
In the opening match, the United States had little trouble jumping out to a two-goal lead at halftime. Landon Donovan was again the dangerman with a brilliant assist on Eddie Johnson's well taken 11th minute goal before scoring a fantastic goal of his own in the 27th minute.
After Honduras' Nery Medina raised the blood pressure with a 52nd minute goal, Donovan wasted no time in scoring his fifth goal of the tournament just a minute later to put the Catrachos comeback bid to rest in another scintillating performance from Jurgen Klinsmann's men.
In the nightcap, it was Blas Perez on his homecoming to DFW getting things started with a 13th minute goal slammed past Mexico goalkeeper Jonathan Orozco. El Tri set the highly partisan crowd on fire when Luis Montes headed home Marco Fabian's brilliant cross in the 26th minute to send the game into halftime tied 1-1.
In the second half, Roman Torres headed home a corner from Gabriel Torres to put Panama up 2-1, a lead they wouldn't relenquish. Perez and Panama will face the United States in the final at 3PM on Sunday afternoon, their second-ever Gold Cup final and second against the United States, a game the Americans won on penalty kicks.
The week ahead is an exciting one for soccer fans across the metroplex, with the best of CONCACAF coming to town for the Gold Cup semifinals and FC Dallas Stadium hosting three events, including an international friendly. Here's a timeline of the packed week!
Tuesday, July 23 - FC Dallas Reserves vs. Antigua Barracuda FC: The FC Dallas reserve squad will host Antigua Barracuda FC of USL Pro in reserve league action on Tuesday night, their second home game of the season. The game will start at 7 p.m. and admission is free. If you can't make it out to the stadium, you can watch the game via the live stream on FCDallas.com.
Wednesday, July 24 - Gold Cup Semifinals: On Wednesday night, one of the biggest soccer events of the year hits Cowboys Stadium as the CONCACAF Gold Cup semifinals come to the metroplex. Jurgen Klinsmann's high-flying United States squad starts the evening off at 6 p.m. against Honduras, followed by Mexico vs. Panama, featuring FC Dallas' Blas Perez, at 9 p.m. in what is sure to be a sold-out and wild atmosphere. Follow FC Dallas for exclusive social media and website coverage of both games.
Friday, July 26 - Meet the Team: FC Dallas Season Ticket Holders will have an exclusive opportunity to meet the team on Friday night before the Stoke City friendly on Saturday. The schedule is tentatively as follows: The evening will begin with a press conference featuring Stoke City at 6 p.m. in the WinStar River Club. The event is open to the first 300 Season Ticket Holders that arrive. The press conference will be followed by the media introduction of FC Dallas' newest signing, Mauro Diaz, at 6:15 p.m. Season Ticket Holders will also have access to Stoke City FC's pregame practice starting at 6:30p.m. The evening will end with FC Dallas player autographs on the concourse from 7:15-8:45 p.m. Free CiCi's pizza and soda will be available for all Season Ticket Holders. If you're not currently a season ticket holder, you can gain access to the event by purchasing season tickets. Call 888-FCD-GOAL for more information.
Saturday, July 27 - FC Dallas vs. Stoke City FC: The week will conclude with an international showdown as the English Premier League comes to Frisco with FCD hosting Stoke City FC. The game will kickoff at 8 p.m. at FC Dallas Stadium, and there is still plenty of time to grab your tickets for the game.
The field is set for the hexagonal round in CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. Beginning in 2013 the United States will battle Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico and Panama for the right to be one of three teams to advance to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Now it's your time to vote - which three teams do you think will advance?
Definitely head over to Grantland, where Noah Davis has a thought provoking story about the rise of CONCACAF players in MLS and whether that's making things more difficult for the U.S. Men's National Team.
Perez, of course, is a member of the Panamanian National Team and gives his take on the rising perception of MLS in Central America.