FRISCO, Texas - One of the most special weeks in the Dallas soccer calendar is upon us and after a year’s absence, FC Dallas is back in the Gordon Jago Super Group at Dr Pepper Dallas Cup XXXV.
“It’s one of the biggest tournaments to me,” said FC Dallas U-18 defender Jordan Cano. “I grew up playing in it my whole life ever since U-14 and it was always a big deal to host kids and play kids from all around the world to see how you compete.”
FC Dallas was handed one of the toughest assignments possible in their opening game as they’ll host defending champions Fulham FC of the Barclays Premier League at 12:30PM at the Cotton Bowl. Fulham stormed through last year’s tournament winning all five of their games by a combined score of 17-4.
After Fulham, FCD will face Coritiba FC of Brazil on Monday and Brommapojkarna IF of Sweden on Wednesday with both games held at Richland College. It’s always a challenge to play three games in four days against very different opponents from all over the world, but head coach Luchi Gonzalez is simply focusing on Sunday’s tournament opener.
“It is a challenge, three different styles against all historical clubs,” said Gonzalez. “Even the Swedish club has a history for developing players in their region. Fulham is our focus. We’ve got some video and, of course, Emerson Hyndman, one of our former players, plays there.
We’re trying to prepare for that game. We’re anticipating the others, but our main focus is Fulham and getting ready for their style of play and how we can be most effective against them. Once that game is over we will re-focus on Coritiba. It’s a contrast of styles, but that’s only going to help our players need to adapt and in the process of adapting they’re going to learn and that’s what this is all about.”
Gonzalez himself played in the tournament back in the mid-90s so he has seen the growth of the Dallas Cup over the years. The 2014 Gordon Jago Super Group features 12 teams from eight countries, all first-division clubs with rich histories of developing exceptional youth talent.
“I have fond memories as far as seeing international teams, returning back to my hometown with some culture, learning more about professional youth teams and knowing that I’m playing against guys that are going to be professional in their country and I want to be the same in my country,” said Gonzalez.
One ace that FCD will have up their sleeve is their experience from playing in the Copa Chivas just a couple months ago. FCD faced three Mexican first division teams as well as Vitoria from Brazil, a match that they hope will prepare them for the challenge of Coritiba FC.
“We went to Mexico and played Vitoria, a team that plays a lot like Coritiba,” said Cano. “They possess, had a lot of big strength guys and that really helped to prepare us because we learn how they play and their certain style…We’re going to take every minute of the game as we should and hopefully we don’t get anything like [red cards], but we learn how to manage the game every minute and deal with distractions that happen during the game.”
Tickets for Sunday’s Cotton Bowl tripleheader are just $15 for adults and $5 for kids and can be purchased at DallasCup.com.