FRISCO, Texas – The new MLS NEXT season begins this weekend and the FC Dallas Boys Academy has added a new U-16 team to its ranks.
The additional age group will help bridge the gap between FCD’s existing U-15 and U-17 Academy teams and provide more competitive minutes players.
“We believe that it’s an important age group,” said Chris Hayden, FCD's Vice President of Youth Soccer. “And there's definitely a bottleneck of opportunities to get game time. We can provide the training environments for all of our kids but we need them to get games so that we can evaluate them and continue to work with them and their individual development plans. Having a U-16 team gives us a more accelerated opportunity for development at really critical age group.”
In prior years, the FCD Academy functioned without a U-16 team as many of the talents between the ages of 15 to 17 were signed to professional contracts by the organization’s pro teams, FC Dallas and North Texas SC. Those players include Antonio Carrera, Justin Che, Ricardo Pepi, Dante Sealy, Beni Redzic and Collin Smith, who were all signed between 2019 and 2021. Without their presences in the Academy, FCD was able to funnel the remaining players in that age range into its U-15 and 17 teams.
“We had quite a few kids graduate out of our Academy teams into the first and second team over the last few years and that left a gap of players,” Hayden explained. “We were able to move more kids from last year’s cycle up, which created opportunity for some of our younger players to play. But when we looked at the current list of players, and we've got a lot of talent in all of these groups, we just felt like we needed to add another program to give them for game time. Where we were before, we either going to lose players or delay their development a really critical age group.
“We feel like it's a really strong age group now. I'm confident that there'll be players from that age group that end up in our first team at some point.”
Scott James, who previously coached FCD’s U-14 team, will take charge of the new U-16 team while current Academy coaches Toto Schmugge and Adam Wells will shift over to coach the U-14s. The U-16s will play their first game this Saturday, Sept. 10 against RISE Soccer Club.