FRISCO, Texas - There's a new addition to the FC Dallas UMB Bank Performance Center, an indoor training facility just up the road from the club's home at Toyota Stadium in Frisco.
TOCA Soccer, an innovative technology-based training program, has installed three training stations in FCD's Performance Center for the club's youth players. TOCA Soccer recently partnered with FC Dallas to accelerate player development by providing these unique training stations.
TOCA's training philosophy is centered around using soccer balls that are smaller than regulation to help players improve their touch and control. Players face a ball machine that periodically plays passes for the player to control and pass (or shoot) into one of four small goals set up in a square with the player in the middle. The ball machine includes different settings to control the speed, direction and elevation of the pass to allow the player to experience the different kind of passes they may receive in a game scenario. The ball machine and training settings are controlled by an iPad to allow players to pick which kind of drill they want to practice (ground passes, aerial passes, volleys, etc.).
"For any soccer player, the two fundamental elements in the game are a player's technical ability and their awareness for decision making," said TOCA founder and president Eddie Lewis, a former U.S. international. "For us at TOCA, that's specifically what we train. We create simulations that allow players to work on any of the technical abilities required in the game, while also incorporating the fact that they need to be aware and make a decision before they receive the ball. With that, we think it's going to have a huge impact on player development and in their overall style of play."
"TOCA is really interesting because we can objectively measure players using it," said Chris Hayden, VP of FC Dallas Youth. "The information that we get can help us design programs to help them specifically. So instead of having a general plan for development, we can know where an athlete stands on their development. It's really helpful for us to be able to measure in objective terms how a player's performance is versus high-level players versus their peers and versus themselves over time."
Another aspect of TOCA's training benefits is its predictability. If you set the training style to volleys, the ball machine will play aerial passes in the same spot over and over, something that's very difficult to achieve in a traditional practice scenario. It allows the player to really hone in and focus on the timing of their volley, rather than hoping their training partner is able to play an aerial pass that they can connect with. With a machine playing the pass rather than a teammate, the margin for error is essentially eliminated and the player can benefit from the repetition in a shorter time span.
The presence of TOCA in FC Dallas Performance Center will give its youth players the ability to work on specific aspects of their game either on their own or under the direction of their coaches. While the goal of TOCA isn't to replace traditional team practices, it's a helpful addition to FCD's ongoing youth training regime.
"The reality is we (FCD and TOCA) share the same mission, we're both trying to make players better, and grow the sport and in a positive way," said Lewis, whose playing career includes stints in MLS and the English Premier League. "Whether that's through developing players that can work their way up to the first team or improving a broader range of players so that they play the sport longer and ultimately become become fans of the game. Those are things that we both have in common. By working together, I think we can improve each of our businesses in respective ways."
Full press release below.
TOCA and FC Dallas Youth Announce Player Development Partnership
Frisco, Texas (Oct. 18, 2023) – TOCA, the world’s leading tech-enabled soccer experiences company and largest operator of indoor soccer training centers in North America, today announced a partnership with the FC Dallas Youth Soccer Club to develop the next generation of soccer players. The announcement occurred at a media event at the FC Dallas UMB Bank Performance Center in Frisco, Texas on Wednesday featuring TOCA founder and two-time USMNT player Eddie Lewis, FC Dallas Academy Director Chris Hayden, FC Dallas Ambassador Kenny Cooper, Jr. and FC Dallas Youth athletes.
As part of this multi-year deal, TOCA will install its proprietary training technology in the UMB Bank Performance Center, home to FC Dallas Youth, in Frisco. The technology will be used for professional player development and on-site evaluation for youth players. The partners will also co-develop team training programs for youth players that will be operated in all TOCA Soccer Training Centers in Dallas. TOCA is the largest operator of indoor soccer centers in the region.
“TOCA’s proprietary training technology is the gold-standard for player development. I am delighted by the endorsement of FC Dallas Youth, a premier youth soccer club,” said TOCA founder and two-time USMNT player Eddie Lewis. “TOCA is proud to be an official training partner of Major League Soccer and a leader in the development of the next generation of North American players,” added TOCA CEO Yoshi Maruyama.
This announcement comes on the heels of a historic 10-year partnership TOCA announced with Major League Soccer to grow the sport and develop the next generation of soccer players in North America ahead of the FIFA World Cup 2026™.
“TOCA’s training technology simply works and the real time data collected is invaluable,” said FC Dallas Chief Operating Officer Jimmy Smith. “We are excited to install this proprietary technology in our performance center and to customize a curriculum for our players in TOCA Soccer Centers in North Texas.”
TOCA was founded in 2016 by USMNT World Cup player and former MLS/English Premier League midfielder, Eddie Lewis. TOCA is led by a world-class management team and its Board of Directors is comprised of transformative leaders from the sports industry including Erik Anderson, former Executive Chairman and CEO of Topgolf Entertainment Group; Abby Wambach, USWNT World Cup winner; Celeste Burgoyne, lululemon President Americas; and Julie Haddon, NWSL Chief Marketing Officer.
TOCA is the world’s leading technology-enabled soccer experience company, transforming the soccer experience and building communities that inspire everybody to play. The company operates two distinct businesses: TOCA Soccer, a growing network of innovative soccer training centers for players of all skill levels, and TOCA Social, the world’s first soccer-themed entertainment and dining venue. For more information please visit TOCAfootball.com or follow @tocafootball on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook. For more information on TOCA Social, please visit toca.social or follow @tocasocial on Instagram.
ABOUT FC DALLAS YOUTH SOCCER CLUB
The FC Dallas Youth Soccer Club is one of the leading youth soccer clubs in the United States and provides opportunities for kids of all ages and levels from Juniors to MLS NEXT and WPSL. The FC Dallas Academy has produced 35 Homegrown players that have gone on to play for the FC Dallas first team while the FC Dallas Girls 2006 ECNL RL won its second consecutive 2006 ECNL Regional League National Championship title in 2023. The boys U13 and U12 and girls U16 Academy teams won their Dallas Cup divisions in 2023.
ABOUT THE UMB BANK PERFORMANCE CENTER
The UMB Bank Performance Center is a state-of-the-art indoor training facility that provides indoor training fields and skills training through cutting edge technology for FC Dallas Youth, Academy and first team players.