FRISCO, Texas – The FC Dallas U-12 Academy team returned from Spain this week after competing in Arousa Fútbol 7, a prestigious youth tournament featuring some of the world’s biggest clubs.
FC Dallas has been playing in the 7v7 tournament since 2014 but the club earned its best result this time around as the team reached the quarterfinals, beating Spanish giants Real Madrid along the way.
“Before tournaments like this, you read the names of the clubs in the tournament,” said FCD U-12s coach Toto Schmugge. “When I read it, I was like, ‘Wow, this will be a great opportunity for us as FC Dallas to show the world where we’re at.’ We went over there with a group with a lot of talent, but you never know at that level if you’re ready or not. After the tournament, I’m thinking ‘Yeah, we’re right there. We can compete with all the world class clubs.’ That makes me proud for the players, the team, the club and the coaching staff.”
The team traveled to Portugal prior to the tournament for friendlies against Manchester City, FC Porto and Celta Vigo. The preparation helped as FCD opened its Arousa campaign with a 1-1 draw against CD Areosa and a 2-1 win over Girona FC. Dallas earned second place in its group with an impressive 1-0 win over Real Madrid followed by another 1-1 tie against Sporting Club de Portugal.
In the knockout phase of the competition, Schmugge’s team triumphed over Belgian club KRC Genk before falling in the quarterfinals to FC Barcelona 3-0.
International competitions like the Arousa Fútbol 7 serve as an important litmus test for development clubs like FC Dallas to measure itself against top teams in the world.
“The competition wasn’t like it is in Texas. It was more competitive and more physical,” said FCD U-12 center back Patrick Arne. “It was challenging and we could’ve done even better. But overall we played pretty well. It was challenging tournament overall. Especially against those big clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sporting Club de Portugal.
“It felt amazing (to beat Real Madrid), we’re just not used to that. We were finally going up against a big club like that and we came in with confidence and strength and pulled it off. We were pretty happy after that game and I feel like we had way more confidence going through the tournament.”
The tournament is also valuable for individual player development by taking athletes out of their comfort zones and forcing them to adapt to new competition.
“You have to think quicker since it’s a smaller field and only 7v7,” said Brennan McDonald, who plays center midfield for the U-12s. “You have to play quicker and move the ball faster around defenders.”
The team’s performance on its week-long trip proved it can compete at the highest level of youth soccer. FC Dallas knew it was among the strongest development clubs in North America, but the U-12s’ showing at Arousa indicates its youth teams can go toe-to-toe with its established European counterparts.
“We know where we stand in environments in the U.S,” Schmugge said. “But we didn’t know how good we are worldwide before we went. To get this experience in a high-end tournament, to see all the work we’ve done in the last two years with the boys, it works. It was great to see for the players that we can compete and get results at the end of the day. That’s really important to see for the boys and for the club. We’re doing something right.”