Preseason Watch: Home Grown players
FC Dallas leads Major League Soccer with six Home Grown players on their roster. With the preseason drawing to a close, these young men have been competing with returning players, draftees and trialists to convince the FCD coaching staff they are deserving of playing time.
In the final Home Grown player update of the preseason, we take a look at the five-game shutout streak the team has posted to close out training camp. Next up is the 2011 regular season home opener, set for March 19 vs. the Chicago Fire. Will we see a Home Grown player crack the starting lineup?
Monday, March 14
Ruben Luna, Forward – Luna continued his impressive preseason showing when he scored in the first of the final five preseason matches. After coming on as a substitute in the 77th minute, the Home Grown forward scored the seventh goal of a 7-0 win in stoppage time over amateur side Arizona Sahuaros. His next goal came in the last match of FCD’s Arizona trip against FC Edmonton. Luna started at the striker position against the Canadian squad, and scored the first goal in a 3-0 victory off an assist from Ricardo Villar.
Luna found the net again for FC Dallas in the first team’s final preseason match this past Saturday against Chivas USA. Luna came on as a substitute for starter Milton Rodriguez to start the second half. He was on the field for only eight minutes before he scored the insurance tally and the final goal in FCD’s 2-0 victory.
Luna would score again less than 24 hours later, when the FC Dallas reserves faced Central Arkansas. Once again, Luna wasted little time as he put the finishing touch on a pass from midfielder Andrew Jacobson to give FCD the first of four goals in another shutout.
Luna has scored a total of six goals for FC Dallas this preseason. With four of his six goals coming in the final five preseason matches, Luna appears to have perfected his scoring touch just in time for this weekend’s Home Opener against Chicago, and has a very real chance to be in the starting lineup come Saturday.
Bryan Leyva, Midfielder – Leyva came on as a substitute in midfield for Bruno Guarda in the 74th minute of Dallas’ 7-0 win over the Arizona Sahuaros. On the last day of matches in Arizona, he came on as a second half substitute for Andrew Jacobson and assisted on a Milton Rodriguez goal in the 60th minute of the game against FC Edmonton.
Leyva was an unused substitute against Chivas USA, but he came on in the second half of FCD’s win over Central Arkansas. Leyva won’t be here for Dallas’ Home Opener, as he will be in Spain with the FC Dallas Development Academy from March 15-23, but the FCD coaches have commended his performance this preseason.
Moises Hernandez, Defender – Hernandez has perhaps been the Home Grown player to bestt improve his standing with the first team this preseason. He came on as a second half substitute for starter Jair Benitez in Dallas’ win over the Arizona Sahuaros and then played the full 90 minutes in the win against FC Edmonton. Hernandez subbed on for Jackson in the 81st minute against Chivas USA, and started in the reserve match the next day against Central Arkansas before coming off in the 73rd minute.
This preseason Hernandez has proven to be a reliable backup at the left back position for FCD, and should see significant minutes for the first team this season.
Victor Ulloa, Midfielder – Ulloa subbed on for Scott Gordon in the 74th minute against the Arizona Sahuaros. He came on for Zach Loyd in the 24th minute of the win over FC Edmonton, and was unused against Chivas USA. He started and played the full 90 minutes of the reserve match against Central Arkansas.
Ulloa will also miss the Home Opener due to joining the Development Academy for their trip to Spain.
Jonathan Top, Forward – Top came one for Maykel Galindo in the 77th minute of FCD’s win over the Arizona Sahuaros. He was a substitute again in the match versus FC Edmonton, coming on for Peri Marosevic in the 60th minute. Top wasn’t on the game day roster for the match against Chivas USA, but was a second half substitute for Ruben Luna in Sunday’s reserve match against Central Arkansas.
Top is the third of three FC Dallas Home Grown players who will be traveling to Spain this week with the Development Academy.
Richard Sanchez, Goalkeeper – Sanchez has been training with the Mexican U-17 National Team since March 6, but is highly regarded among the FC Dallas technical staff as a future option in goal for the club. FC Dallas’ youngest Home Grown player should be rejoining his club sometime in early April.
Monday, Feb. 28:
Ruben Luna, Forward – Luna didn’t play in Dallas’ scrimmage with New England on Wednesday, but he did start the second half of Thursday’s match against Orlando City to open the Walt Disney World Pro Soccer Classic. Just seven minutes after taking the field Luna developed a good combination with midfielder Eric Alexander, but his strike hit the crossbar.
The Mexico U-20 forward was given the start at the lone striker position for Dallas against the Houston Dynamo in the Disney Classic championship game on Saturday. Just 15 minutes into the match Luna headed away what would be Dallas’ lone goal of the game off an assist by winger Marvin Chavez to give his side the 1-0 lead. He nearly doubled the lead three minutes later, but was thwarted by the crossbar for the second time in as many games. Houston tied the game late, but Dallas would go on to win the match on penalty kicks.
Bryan Leyva, Midfielder – Leyva’s creative flair was on display Wednesday as he started on the left flank in Dallas’ scrimmage against New England. The Home Grown midfielder combined well with trialist striker Maykel Galindo to generate multiple quality scoring opportunities against the Revolution that all ultimately went unfinished. Leyva did not see any time in FCD’s matches against Orlando or Houston.
Moises Hernandez, Defender – Hernandez was given more playing time this week than any other Home Grown player for FC Dallas. He started and played a full 90 minutes against the Revolution on Wednesday. Hernandez was beaten by the speed of New England’s Sainey Nyassi on the lone goal of the match, a learning experience that all young defenders inevitably go through when matched up against one of the fastest players in the league. Hernandez didn’t get on the field against Orlando City, but he did play the entire second half of Dallas’ win over the Dynamo on Saturday.
Victor Ulloa, Midfielder – Like Leyva, Ulloa also worked well with Galindo in Wednesday’s scrimmage with New England after coming on in the 57th minute for Bruno Guarda. Galindo stole a back pass intended for Revolution goalkeeper Matt Reis and got the ball to Ulloa, whose subsequent attempt on goal was blocked by the veteran ‘keeper. Ulloa, like Leyva, didn’t see any action against Orlando or Houston.
Jonathan Top, Forward – Top did not travel with the team to Florida due to an ankle injury that sent him back to Frisco early from a USMNT U-18 camp in Arizona two weeks ago. It is currently unknown whether or not Top will make the team trip to Arizona this week.
Richard Sanchez, Goalkeeper – Sanchez didn’t get to see any minutes in any of FC Dallas’ preseason matches this week, but the newly signed Home Grown player seemed to fit in well with the team’s goalkeeping corps. After the win over Seattle on Monday, Sanchez and fellow ‘keepers Kevin Hartman, Chris Seitz and Josh Lambo, along with goalkeeper coach Drew Keeshan and trainer Josh Watts, jogged back to the team hotel – a distance of 4.9 miles.
Tuesday, Feb. 22:
Ruben Luna, Forward – It’s been a big week for FCD home grown striker Ruben Luna, starting with some playing time during Tuesday’s scrimmage against Houston Baptist University. Luna didn’t manage to break onto the score sheet during his 35 minutes of play, but he did tally during a three-on-three drill in training on Thursday. The young forward heated up later in the week when he scored the game-winner and got an assist on Bim Ogunyemi’s goal in FCD’s 3-1 win over SMU. Head coach Schellas Hyndman gave Luna the start at striker on Monday in Florida vs. Seattle, and the 2010 MLS Coach of the Year said he thought Luna played a strong, physical game in return.
Bryan Leyva, Midfielder – Leyva only played the final nine minutes against HBU on Tuesday, coming on for Bruno Guarda after the Brazilian scored FCD’s final goal of the scrimmage. Like Luna, Leyva also scored during three-on-three drills on Thursday. He looked strong in the midfield during the team’s scrimmage against SMU Friday night.
Moises Hernandez, Defender – Besides Luna, Hernandez was the only other Home Grown player to see time in all three of FC Dallas’ scrimmages last week. In fact, he logged the most minutes among Home Grown players, playing the entire second half of all three games last week. Hernandez appears to be the frontrunner to backup Jair Benitez at the left back position.
Victor Ulloa, Midfielder – Ulloa got on the field for the last 10 minutes against HBU on Tuesday and was in for the last 20 minutes against SMU on Friday night. Between those two appearances he scored a goal during Wednesday’s training off a give and go during a five-on-five drill.
Jonathan Top, Forward – Top started the week in Arizona at a camp with the U.S. U-18 squad, but returned to Frisco on Wednesday due to an ankle injury. Due to the injury, Top did not travel with the team to Florida this week.
Richard Sanchez, Goalkeeper – FC Dallas’ newest Home Grown player was officially announced on Friday. Sanchez didn’t participate in the scrimmage with SMU that night, but did travel with the team to Florida and participated in training on Monday. "Today was great," Sanchez said following training. "Good stuff. Looking
back, I will probably remember today as my first training session as a
professional with Kevin Hartman."
Monday, February 14:
Ruben Luna, Forward – Luna was away from his FC
Dallas teammates for the majority of the second week of preseason training
while participating in another training camp for the Mexican U-20 National Team
in El Salvador.
In his debut with the squad, Luna scored the side’s lone tally in a 1-1
friendly with El Salvador’s
first division champion CF Metapan. He rejoined FC Dallas on Friday and
played 42 minutes in the team’s preseason loss to the Houston Dynamo in Corpus Christi on
Bryan Leyva, Midfielder – Leyva has continued to look strong this
preseason. He helped set up two goals in a scrimmage on Monday, scored
two of his own on Tuesday and buried another one during Thursday’s indoor session.
He came on in the 71st minute of the preseason match against Houston for Bim Ogunyemi.
Moises Hernandez, Defender – Hernandez has continued to show solid
defensive play through this second shortened week of training. His play earned
him an entire half of playing time in the Corpus
Christi game, as he came on for Jair Benitez in the
Victor Ulloa, Midfielder – Ulloa set up a couple of goals in scrimmages
on Monday. Charlie Campbell scored off a rebound created by Ulloa Monday
morning, and that evening he set up a goal for FCD’s newest signing Ricardo
Villar in his first training session. During a three-on-three drill on
Tuesday, Ulloa earned some vocal praise on multiple occasions from veteran
goalkeeper Kevin Hartman for his work to clear the ball out of dangerous areas.
Ulloa did not travel with the team to Corpus Christi.
Jonathan Top, Forward – After being delayed by a pending physical in
week one, Top finally made his preseason debut with FC Dallas Tuesday evening,
and he wasted little time showing the coaching staff what he is capable of.
He scored an impressive goal on veteran ‘keeper Kevin Hartman on a feed
from reigning MLS MVP David Ferreira and had two more chances that night,
foiled once by the crossbar and the other on a diving save by ‘keeper Josh
Lambo. Top departed on Saturday to take part in a U.S. U-18 National Team
training camp in Phoenix
that will last through this Sunday, February 20.
Tuesday, February 8:
Ruben Luna, Forward
– Luna has already been scoring frequently in this young preseason. He spent the first week of FC Dallas’
preseason with the team in Frisco, in between stints with the U-20 Mexican
National Team. His time with the Mexican
U-20s appears to have boosted his confidence and, as FC Dallas broadcaster
Bobby Rhine was overheard to say, “this kid wants to play yesterday.” Through week one Luna appears to be a
legitimate option at the striker position for head coach Schellas Hyndman, but only time
will tell. He left over the weekend to
rejoin the Mexican U-20s and will be back with FCD next week.
Midfielder – Leyva has done well in scrimmages this preseason. He has had multiple runs up the field, produced
a handful of scoring chances, and earned assists on a couple of training
goals. The skill Leyva has shown in
training is evidence of why he was FCD’s first Home Grown signing.
Defender – Hernandez hasn’t particularly stood out in the few training sessions
FC Dallas has had thus far, but he hasn’t been victimized
either, which is important for a defender.
He’s also done well to make runs up field from his left back position and
spur on the offense without getting caught too far up field. Hernandez has looked solid and reliable on
the defense so far this preseason.
Midfielder – Ulloa also hasn’t been able to break through offensively yet,
but he has shown some solid defensive play in week one. He’s made a couple of steals in the midfield
to keep the attack out of his own end. Ulloa’s
also shown the ability to make runs up field with the ball and he’s been at the
top of the pack when it comes to fitness.
He came in fourth this weekend in the team’s two-mile run test. Even this early in the preseason, Ulloa’s
work ethic has shone through and he has shown that he’s dedicated to earning
Top, Forward – Top hasn’t been able to practice in training
sessions due to a pending physical.