U-18s sweep bracket, advance to Super Group semis
FRISCO, Texas – On a cold, damp day in Frisco the FC Dallas U-18 Academy team wrapped up their group-round play of Dallas Cup XXXII with a 2-1 victory over Japan’s U-18 National Team. The win completed a sweep of their bracket and advanced the squad to the Super Group semifinals this Friday at Pizza Hut Park. FCD’s semifinal opponent will be Tigres, after they defeated Corinthians 1-0 late Wednesday night.
It seemed as though FC Dallas would cruise to victory early on, as Japan’s goalkeeper received a straight red for a strong challenge in the box on Jonathan Top just seven minutes into the match. Top slotted the PK past the backup ‘keeper to give FC Dallas a one-goal advantage over the shorthanded Japanese side.
Despite being a man down, the squad from the Land of the Rising Sun played with spirit and precision, forcing Dallas goalkeeper Eduardo Cortes to make a tough save in the 23rd minute, and earning a penalty kick of their own in the 33rd. Japan converted the chance to tie the game at one.
Home Grown midfielder Bryan Leyva nearly regained the lead for the U-18s just before the end of the half following a hard-working buildup through the midfield that saw his shot skip just to the left of goal.
The Dallas side started the second half unwilling to settle for a draw and generated a handful of opportunities that were thwarted by Japan’s replacement ‘keeper. But Leyva would not be denied in the 62nd minute. As he dribbled into the right side of the box, the goalkeeper rushed off his line to challenge the chance. Leyva coolly chipped the ball over the challenger to regain his team’s one-goal advantage.
Displaying the pride that brought the team to Dallas Cup despite their country’s current turmoil, Japan refused to go down without a fight and dominated the scoring chances for the remainder of the game. Their best opportunity came with three minutes to go in regulation in the form of a clear shot from the right corner of the box. Cortes stood his ground and punched away the point-blank shot with the authority and confidence that has made him one of the most valuable players for the Dallas side over the last three games.
In just their second year in Dallas Cup’s Super Group, the FC Dallas U-18s have swept their bracket and advanced to the semifinals where they will face Tigres of Mexico for a chance to play in the final match this Sunday at Pizza Hut Park.
DAL – Top 7’
JPN – 33’
DAL – Leyva 62’
FC Dallas – Cortes, Ambrose, Okwuonu, Hernandez, Ramirez, Ulloa, Robledo (Guzman 71’), Garcia (Rochowski 90’), Leyva, Perez (Pinal 53’), Top.
Other FC Dallas action at Dallas Cup XXXII:
The U-16 Academy team fell today to West Side Metro Premier of Oregon by a score of 1-0. The result made the Oregon club the winners of the bracket and eliminated the U-16s from the tournament.
The 94 Boys Premier team were also eliminated from the tournament today as a result of bracket leader Brasilis FC's scoreless draw with TSF Academy Galacticos. The 94s lost to FC Golden State Premier 2-1. The 95s, who were eliminated after Monday's loss, fell again today to FCB Escola Monterrey 5-1.
The 96s earned a 2-2 draw against Pateadores of California today to win their bracket and advance to the U-15 quarterfinals Thursday afternoon. The 97s will also play in the U-14 quarterfinals Thursday afternoon, after defeating TSF Academy Blue of New Jersey today 3-1 to sweep their bracket.