FRISCO, Texas - As the FC Dallas first team prepares for their preseason trip to United Arab Emirates, the FC Dallas Academy is taking an international trip of their own to play in the prestigious Copa Chivas international youth tournament starting on Tuesday.
With 12 teams from four continents, the tournament, which is open to players born in 1995 with three ’94-aged players allowed, will be a stern test for Luchi Gonzalez’s U18 academy team.
“It’s a prestigious event. It’s an event that we have wanted to participate in past years, but the timing wasn’t right. We felt like this would be a great year for us to go,” said Chris Hayden, VP of FC Dallas Youth. “To play international competition is one of the key ingredients in our mind in terms of player development and particularly international competition on foreign soil.”
FC Dallas begins the tournament on Tuesday, January 28 with a match against CF Monterrey with subsequent group stage games against Yokohama F. Marinos, Chivas Guadalajara, CF Atlas and E.C. Vitoria. Though the matches are only 70 minutes long, the prospect of five games in six days with possible semifinals and finals after that is a daunting one, but one that will help the FCD youngsters gain valuable experience.
“It’s just about growing. It’s about growing through the experience of playing teams that are not innocent in any way. They’re going to be savvy, technical, tactically disciplined and organized,” said U-18 head coach Luchi Gonzalez. “We play the highest level teams we can play so they can challenge us.”
“We’re out of our comfort zone and that’s where we’re going to grow. Obviously we play to win. We want to go there, compete and do well, but at the end of the day, it’s about growth and preparing individuals that can one day be professional.”
Though FCD is bringing a young team without any ‘94s due to college and professional commitments, Gonzalez is still optimistic that his team can compete with some of the best Mexico has to offer.
“We have a good group. Our back line is solid, we can defend well and I think some of these games are going to challenge us to play a little bit differently than we normally do,” said Gonzalez. “We’re going to want to play even with these teams, possess and play our game pressing them. But I think this is an opportunity to play some higher level teams with some pros and we’ve got to learn to adapt so we’re looking forward to it.”
Copa Chivas Groups
Group A – Colombia National Team, Universidad Catolica(Peru), Liverpool FC(England), Club Tijuana(Mexico), Chivas USA(United States), Monarcas Morelia(Mexico
Group B – FC Dallas, Atlas CF(Mexico), E.C. Vitoria(Brazil), Yokohama F. Marinos(Japan), Chivas Guadalajara(Mexico), CF Monterrey(Mexico)
Copa Chivas Schedule
FC Dallas vs CF Monterrey – 9:30 AM, Tuesday, January 28
FC Dallas vs Yokohama F. Marinos – 12:00 PM, Wednesday, January 29
FC Dallas vs Chivas Guadalajara – 12:00 PM, Thursday, January 30
FC Dallas vs Atlas CF – 9:30 AM, Saturday, February 1
FC Dallas vs E.C. Vitoria – 12:00PM, Sunday, February 2
Semifinal – Monday, February 3
Final – Tuesday, February 4 – Estadio Omnilife