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26 June 11:28 am

Several members of the FC Dallas family are traveling to Brazil this summer to take in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and have agreed to share their experiences with FCDallas.com to give our readers a first-person perspective of the festivities. Erika Cook and Melissa Janetta work in Business Development and Partnership Marketing for FC Dallas. They've traveled to Curitiba along with FC Dallas Foundation Director Melissa Reddick to do volunteer work with Lionsraw (and watch a little soccer). Give them a follow @2SoleSisters on Twitter and Instagram and keep up with them on Tumblr.

It didn’t take long for me at all to fall in love with this project and the people of Parolin. I felt immediately connected to the kids through our mutual love for soccer and their endless enthusiasm to learn. While all the other projects are outside the city of Curitiba, Parolin is in the inner city. The favela community (our version of inner city projects) is a harsh upbringing for the kids as the drug ridden streets and crime rule the community. We’ve spent time coaching and mentoring the kids of this favela as a reward for those that are attending school and church on a regular basis. This formula has been put into place in this community as a way to instill discipline and structure.

Our project is based in a 3G covered field house where just a few streets away from the pitch lies the worst favela that Lionsraw has seen as a team. Our kids are ages six to about sixteen and about 98% are boys. We have morning sessions with the little ones and then more technical afternoon sessions with the older kids. These kids are amazing soccer players! They are mini versions of Neymar dancing their way around each other like you wouldn’t believe. And tough…some of them play barefoot or in socks. If they get knocked down they don’t whine or complain and quickly get back up and get involved. They are so eager to learn whether it’s a new foot skill or to simply count to ten in English. The children have great respect for all of the coaches and volunteers on the project. Each morning they’ve greeted us with smiles, handshakes, and fist bumps and thank us before they leave in the afternoon.

Aside from soccer, we were lucky enough to spend last Sunday attending church with the kids and their community. It was a great experience to see them outside of the pitch engaging with each other on a different level. Most of them attended without their parents knowing their incentive was that they got to finish the day on the pitch. Their church provides a great support system for the kids so I hope they continue to participate and attend.

The short time that I’ve spent here I can say have been some of the happiest moments of my life. My team of fellow coaches, the kids and the community have warmed my heart forever. My hope for these kids is that they can find enough inspiration to continue on their paths of education and pave their way towards a brighter future despite the struggles of the Parolin community.

Melissa

 

25 June 3:01 pm

Need help getting out of work tomorrow to watch the all-important USA vs. Germany World Cup match? Dr. Tex Hooper has you covered! Just print and fill out the doctor's note below and turn it in to your employer and they'll have no choice but to excuse your absence on Thursday.

And in case you're wondering, the best location to treat WorldCupititus tomorrow will be at the AT&T Plaza at American Airlines Center. See you for treatment tomorrow!

25 June 2:13 pm
Check out the photos from Tuesday night's US Open Cup match in Houston!

25 June 11:19 am

Own Goal propels FCD U-18's to 1-0 win over Portland Timbers

The Under-18's continued their strong run through playoffs week with their second win in two days, defeating the Portland Timbers 1-0 by way of a 76th minute own goal. The FC Dallas defense led by Jordan Cano, Cesar Murillo, Shaquell Moore and Kris Reaves have allowed just one goal so far in two matches with U-16 goalkeeper Charlier Furrer moving up to play for the U-18s in these playoffs.

Despite having six points and a +4 goal differential, FC Dallas will need to beat the Chicago Fire on Thursday morning to advance to the final eight with the Fire holding a superior six points and +5 goal difference.

U-16s come from behind to defeat Shattuck-Saint Mary's in playoff opener

Ranked #4 nationally, the FC Dallas U-16s got off to the best possible start in Tuesday's USSDA Playoff opener scoring in the first minute against Shattuck-Saint Mary's. However, they would concede two goals in the first half to take a 2-1 deficit to halftime.

In the second half, Luiz ZuaZua scored in the 56th minute to tie the match and Mario Ramirez Sansabas won it for FCD right at the death in the 80th minute to secure a priceless victory.

The U-16s continue playoffs week on Wednesday at 4:00PM against the San Jose Earthquakes.

25 June 11:18 am

FCD's own Melissa Reddick traveled to Brazil to pair up with Lionsraw foundation to help distribute soccer gear to underprivileged kids. Check out the story in the video below:

24 June 4:30 pm

This is it. Your United States World Cup team battles Germany on Thursday morning at 11:00AM in Brazil & our FCD World Cup Tour pres. by McDonalds is set for the AT&T Plaza outside the American Airlines Center. If you were at Klyde Warren Park for our USA-Portugal watch party, you know what a special event it was and if you missed it, well just watch this.

Here's your FAQ's for Thursday morning's watch party:

When should I arrive?

The match kicks off at 11:00AM, but Klyde Warren was packed 90 minutes before kickoff. Arrival by 9:00AM should get you a good spot. Should. We had close to 5,000 show up for Sunday's watch party and we expect that many to be here for this final group stage match.

How should I get there?

There is parking available in the Audi Garage on the east side of AAC for $5. We also encourage all attendees to take Dart Light Rail to Victory Station for Thursday's event.

Can I bring food and drinks to AT&T Plaza?

You are permitted to bring a small, sack-sized cooler with non-alcoholic drinks. Beer will be available for purchase outside in the plaza as well as food, soda and water both from outdoor vendors and concession stands inside the AAC.

Can I bring folding chairs?

Yes, folding chairs are permitted into the AT&T Plaza.

Will the Portugal-Ghana game be on?

Yes! We're going to have the USA-Germany match on the big screen attached to the front of the AAC and Portugal-Ghana will be on one of the massive screens on the side of the AT&T Plaza. This is seriously going to be awesome.

What happens if the weather is bad?

We've been getting some much-needed rain around DFW over these last few days which has been great, but it's also made predicting the weather almost impossible. If inclement weather is imminent for Thursday's watch party, it will be moved inside the American Airlines Center...which actually would be pretty cool.

How can we make this an event that unites the whole city?

Invite your friends via our Facebook event, talk it up, get all your friends who live down in that area to come out. Every media outlet in town should be there so let's show DFW that Dallas is a soccer city!

 

23 June 3:29 pm

A few weeks ago, World Cup '94 veteran Fernando Clavijo sat down with us for an FCDTV interview discussing his memories of the '94 World Cup during which he played three of four matches for the United States including the 1-0 round of 16 loss to Brazil. Clavijo's interview was a fascinating perspective on how someone who immigrated to the United States from Uruguay and ended up playing on the biggest stage with his adopted country. Enjoy:

23 June 2:45 pm

The US Soccer Development Academy Playoffs began just outside Indianapolis today for the FC Dallas U-18 Academy, and Luchi Gonzalez's side started the week victorious with a 4-1 win over Charlotte Soccer Academy.

Jose Livano, Yannick Koffi, Antonio Aguilar and Oscar Romero scored in the win for FC Dallas. The win leaves FCD in good shape at the top of their group as the week continues. Dallas will face Portland Timbers FC tomorrow before their final group stage match against the Chicago Fire. Only the first place team in each group moves through to the final eight.

For Francisco Molina's U-16's who are the #4 national seed, playoffs week begins tomorrow afternoon against Shattuck Saint-Mary's at 4:30PM.

READ: FC Dallas Academy teams prepare for USSDA playoffs.

23 June 2:08 pm

Here’s the show recap from Sunday’s latest episode of Soccer Today presented by Toyota and co-hosted by Marc Stein and Steve Davis on 103.3 FM ESPN Radio:

Now available on iTunes!

SEGMENT 1: Steve and Marc help set up the U.S. game coming up a few hours later.

SEGMENT 2: Marc talks to Stuart Holden, also about the United States-Portugal match ahead.

SEGMENT 3: Marc and Steve kick around various World Cup topics -- and discuss how brilliant this tournament has been. There is also sound from noted soccer fan Dirk Nowitzki.

SEGMENT 4: More World Cup discussion. Because, you know, it's a World Cup! Included here is debate on which great goal was better, Tim Cahill's or Robin van Persie's?

23 June 1:48 pm

Several members of the FC Dallas family are traveling to Brazil this summer to take in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and have agreed to share their experiences with FCDallas.com to give our readers a first-person perspective of the festivities. Today's entry comes from FC Dallas Foundation Director Melissa Reddick, who traveled to Curitiba in conjunction with Lionsraw to do volunteer work in Brazil.

When I was hired four years ago to rebuild the FC Dallas Foundation, I was inundated with calls and emails from international groups wanting to partner in an official capacity. The game of soccer (or football, or futbol) is its own unique international language. It breaks down barriers to facilitate social change. Children will line up for their vaccines when the prospect of playing with an actual ball versus a can or coffee bag appears. So, I knew the Foundation would need to partner with a stable, efficient and effective international organization to make its mark in the world by using sports philanthropy for change. 

Through a mutual relationship, I met Jon Burns, founder and visionary of Lionsraw. Based out of the UK, Lionsraw mobilizes soccer enthusiasts to create "Chances for Change" locally and globally in countries that host soccer tournaments such as Poland and South Africa. Their mantra is 'harnessing passion & belief' and they are doing just that on three separate continents right now. When I met Jon and his team three years ago, they were already on the ground in Brazil preparing for the 2014 World Cup, scouting the right legacy project.

Two pieces of Lionsraw that were important for me were first, that they believed in local work as much as global work and second, that they were in a project area building relationships prior to and long after the tournament had ended. This is exactly what makes Lionsraw unique. They are in a country years before their 'legacy tours' begin and stay well after. They build relationships with hosts and organizations on the ground as well as their volunteer base. This year's legacy tour in Brazil brings over 250 volunteers to the Curitiba area. 

There are two projects occuring at the same time - the build portion and the football portion. The build project is located in Tangua, north of Curitiba and will provide a community center that will host 500 people a week for education and sports programming. This project began months ago and will be completed in July.

While this is happening, there are three football projects in different favelas around Curitiba. The projects will deliver nine days of community football during June. Each project site has a skilled coach that leads volunteers with a wide range of skills and experiences. 

Where does the FC Dallas Foundation come in? Through its Gear Up Project presented by Albertsons, the Foundation donates new and used soccer gear to Lionsraw to be distributed locally as well as globally. The Foundation also partners in local Dallas projects such as a school refurbishment in West Dallas, a number of camps and will be involved in the soccer academies that Lionsraw and another local non-profit, the Fifty-Eight Foundation are establishing to teach leadership through soccer to middle school-aged students. 

This year, I joined the volunteer team in Brazil. Arriving in Curitiba last Thursday, I have had the honor of experiencing the other side of the World Cup. It's the side that you don't see while you are watching the chanting crowds and painted faces at the matches all over the country. For the past two days, I served with a team in a small favela north of Curitiba called Almirante Tamandare to lead drills to 30 or so boys from the ages of 5-16.  Our community host is the patriarch of the favela, Pastor Rondinely (pronounced Hon-din-eli). Rondinely himself played for a professional club here in Curitiba and has a 16-year-old son in an academy program on the other side of the favela.  His English is minimal but we were able to talk about the FCD Academy program and the similarities to his residency. 

Not only have my language skills been tested, but my soccer skills as well. I am usually hosting soccer clinics in an administrative capacity and only play the game in the annual staff tournament when some unlucky team of co-workers draws me in the draft.

The boys are so positive, grateful and respectful. They walk in to the pitch shaking every volunteer's hand when they arrive and depart with a handshake, or for me, a kiss on the cheek. There were some incredible skills on the old turf pitch that is completely fenced in with a net roof.  It has been 55 degrees out; however, most were in shorts and some played barefoot. The team of volunteers, consisting of Brits and a couple Americans did a wonderful job of engaging the boys.

Most of the volunteers have worked with the kids for a few weeks now, so seeing the relationships between them and the kids that come regularly is touching. Michael, our leader, has a wonderful relationship with the host and speaks incredible Portguese considering he has only been here for two months. I interacted with a number of the kids, but especially a small boy named Andres (right) who played on the side. He was clearly the youngest in age, but not in skill. He would dribble and motion for me to follow. Once after a cartwheel, he looked at me with a challenge in his eyes. Of course, I did it; however, I passed when it came to walking on my hands. Andres was proud of his victory. 

Fabian and Rafael (left) are about 9 years old. Clad in matching outfits of green and gold, they played in the morning and the afternoon sessions with bare feet. Their sweet smiles quickly turned serious when they took on me and another volunteer with their long spider-like legs. They dominated. 

The first work day was spent coaching the two sessions on the pitch; however, the field was being used on the next work day so we spent the day at the church that Rondinely runs. After a positive message from Rondinely, we played FIFA, table tennis and hosted a round of soccer/bible trivia. I had brought a bunch of FCD gear along with me and the boys were excited to receive jerseys, hats, bags and tees. The kids are just happy to have this group of engaged adults to play with each day.

Today is a day off since Brazil is playing. I'll head to the stadium to see the Spain-Australia match before joining a watch party for the Brazil match. The Ecuador-Honduras game was an amazing experience on Friday. I'm sure today will be no less. I do have a feeling that watching the Brazil game surrounded by Brazilians will over shadow the in-stadium experience. The city is abuzz and feels like a holiday.

-Melissa