USSDA Finals Week Preview
FRISCO – The FC Dallas U-18 Academy team is preparing to make its third straight U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week appearance this week in Houston, Texas.
After coming up a goal short in last year’s championship game, FC Dallas put together a remarkable 2011-12 campaign. The team finished the season with an overall record of 27-4-3. FC Dallas U-18s were also the only team to post three straight shutouts in last month’s U.S.S.D.A Playoffs to advance to Finals Week.
Homegrown forward Jonathan Top led the way with three goals in the playoffs, while Flavio Guzman, Jose de la Tejera, Danny Garcia and Bobby Edet each chipped in a goal. Goalkeeper Jose Cortes and Homegrown player Richard Sanchez combined to post the three clean sheets with the help of backline stalwarts Nick Rochowski, Mark Ashby, Aaron Guillen and Mikey Ambrose.
The U-18s will be without Sanchez at Finals Week while the goalkeeper is on national team duty with Mexico’s U-20s, but they will have the services of another Homegrown player in midfielder Kellyn Acosta. The 16-year-old Plano native was signed to a professional contract on Thursday, July 12.
Finals Week Schedule
Finals Week takes place Monday, July 16 through Monday, July 23. The eight qualifying U-18 teams are split into two groups of four. The winners of each group will play for the national championship on Sunday, July 22 at BBVA Compass Stadium. FC Dallas will compete in Group 2, which is comprised of Chivas USA, Baltimore Bays Chelsea and Solar Chelsea SC.
Monday, July 16 vs. Chivas USA at 9 p.m.
FCD’s first match will be against the only other MLS squad in their group. Chivas USA finished the regular season in second place in the SoCal Division behind the L.A. Galaxy. The squad went 2-0-1 to win their group during playoffs. Chivas bested Charlotte Soccer Academy, 2-1 and beat the New England Revolution, 4-3 before tying the New York Red Bulls, 1-1.
Chivas USA is the only team in Group 2 that failed to win all three of its playoff matchups. The MLS academy side’s scoring leaders are Mark Verso (20), Ben Spencer (12) and Jose Dheming (10).
Wednesday, July 18 vs. Baltimore Bays Chelsea at 8 p.m.
Baltimore won the Mid-Atlantic Division with an overall record of 23-5-2. The team won all three of its games in the playoffs; beating Lonestar SC, 1-0, Crew Soccer Academy, 3-1 and Players Development Academy, 2-1. Michael Gamble led the Bays in scoring during the playoffs with two goals.
Gamble also tied for the team lead during the regular season. He and Yaw Amankwa netted 10 goals apiece. Baltimore finished the regular season with a points-per-game average of 2.37, second in the group to Dallas’ 2.47.
Friday, July 20 vs. Solar Chelsea SC at 9 p.m.
FCD’s final group opponent will be a familiar foe in fellow Texas Division side Solar Chelsea SC. Solar finished the regular season 15 points behind FC Dallas for second place in the division. The teams faced off three times in the regular season, with Dallas outscoring Solar 10-0 in the season series.
Solar put forth an impressive performance in the playoffs, beating Albertson FC, 4-1, Concorde Fire, 2-0 and the Chicago Fire, 3-1. Its offense is led by Zachary Mathers with 14 goals and Samuel Hayward with 11.
Final match day: Sunday, July 22
FC Dallas will return to the championship game for the second straight year should it win the group next week. That match is scheduled to take place at BBVA Compass Stadium on Sunday, July 22 at 8 p.m. CT. The third place match will take place earlier that day at Houston Amateur Sports Park at 5 p.m. The fifth and seventh place matches will also take place at H.A.S.P. on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 9 a.m., respectively.
FCDallas.com will post match recaps after every FCD match throughout the week. Also, “like” FC Dallas Youth on Facebook for daily updates and photo galleries and follow @FCDallasYouth on Twitter for in-game updates.