FRISCO - Following the United States’ elimination World Cup Qualifying last Tuesday, FC Dallas President Dan Hunt has never been more passionately committed on the youth development of FC Dallas, and of the country’s brightest young players, calling for a more affirmative “stance” from other MLS clubs on taking similar investments.
“Clubs have got to mandate that we‘re going to give young American players opportunities to be in tough environments, tough competitions,” Hunt told Jason Davis on Sirius XMFC Thursday. “I just think there has to be a stance for all these teams in Major League Soccer, if you don’t do it, then we are going to find ourselves continuing to struggle."
Back in September, FC Dallas signed Eduardo Cortes - its 20th Academy product to a professional contract, and earlier this season, FC Dallas’ own Jesus Ferreira became the youngest ever player to appear for FC Dallas at 16 years and 161 days old, and the second-youngest to score in Major League Soccer during his debut. While producing young talent is important for FC Dallas moving forward, Hunt also believes that youth development has to improve overall not just for the club side, but also for national team.
“It starts with teams like Dallas that are committed to youth development. We have a big talent pool to draw from, but I think we’ve got to cast a wider net to identify even better players for the U.S. National Team programs, not just for FC Dallas, but for U.S. National Team programs, and then put them in situations that are going to accelerate their development and that starts at the youth levels having our Academy teams play against more international competition.” Hunt added.
It's been a turbulent 10 days for soccer in the country and while everyone, including Hunt, is frustrated that the U.S. is not going to next year's World Cup, he also believes in the upcoming generation of American players that can propel the nation and bounce back from the disappointment.
"I believe in our Under-20 players because of the Academy system and our Under-17s have produced a lot of great players, and you see what both have done in the World Cup. Our U-17’s have done really well. I think we are coming into a great generation of players from the Academy ages of about 20 down to now 12. It’s just a matter of how do we bridge that gap to ensure we get into the 2022 World Cup. "
Hunt also hinted at potential developments in Dallas with regards to a USL team, bridging the development gap from the Academy to the First Team.
"It's been talked about a lot. We’ve been in a situation where we’ve been able to play our young players enough minutes to help in their development," he said. "Now we need that because we have so many more coming through the system in our Academy system that does so well that we actually need them to have a place where they can all play."