U-14 Pre Academy team at Mundialito 2012

The U-14 FC Dallas Pre Academy team defeated the Venezuelan National Team 1-0 on Tuesday to advance to the quarterfinals of the Mundialito 2012 (Under-15) tournament in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. FC Dallas’ goal was scored by Armando Arce. Goalkeeper Matt Karasinski picked up the team’s second shutout of the tournament. The team has today off before facing a yet-to-be-determined opponent from Group C on Thursday. FC Dallas opened the tournament with a 5-0 win against Cruz Azul (Mexico) on Sunday. FC Dallas’ goals came from Jesse Najera (2) Martin Salas, Richard Tapia and Bernie ZuaZua.

Below is head coach Francisco Molina's account of the tournament to date:

The opening ceremony at the stadium was a really exciting for the boys. There were 35,000 people in the stadium and they had Baile Folklorico groups dancing on the track surrounding the field. They had a tournament queen and the whole works. Former D.C. United greats Marco Echeverry and Jaime Moreno were the tournament hosts.  It is really a big deal here, and the whole city literally stops to pay attention to the games.

All the games in the stadium are shown live on TV and radio. Everyone we encounter knows what the scores are and who is playing. Weston [James Mckinnie], and Alex Lim are the most popular with the people here. We played Venezuela in a city called Torno, which is an hour from Santa Cruz. There were 2,000 people watching our game vs. Cruz Azul.  Jessi Najera scored, just 35 seconds into the game, and that was pretty much it. 

Against Tahuichi, I watched our boys really mature in front of 10,000 fans cheering for the local team. I have been coaching for many years, but the first half of the game against Tahuichi was one of the most exciting games I have coached. The boys played high-quality soccer in the FC Dallas style. The guys really made our club proud. We defended with all we had in the second half. Unfortunately, Richard Tapia got hurt at the end of the first half and was forced to leave the game. That hurt us a lot because he was giving Tahuichi’s back four a lot of trouble. Tahuichi’s two goals came off bad clearance attempts played down the middle of the field, which the home side was able to finish off. 

The next day all the local newspapers were really talking about our team and our players. One of our player’s quotes was that Tahuichi thought that we were here on vacation. We had four chances to put the game away in the first 20 minutes, but we couldn’t finish. Six or seven boys were interviewed at the end. It was exciting for me to watch them speak to a camera and microphone at such a young age.

Going into our third game, the boys knew we needed to win against Venezuela to advance to the quarterfinals. We saw Venezuela’s match against Tahuichi on Sunday and we were able to identify their key players. It must have been 110 degrees in that small stadium, but again our guys rose to the occasion. The Venezuelans tried to win over the crowd by giving them souvenirs before the game, but during the match our style of play took over, and the crowd was in our favor. Following the 1-0 win, fans came onto the field and took pictures with our boys and really congratulated them for the game.

Today [Wednesday] we are preparing for our next match with a light practice and a tennis soccer tournament. I also have a special cookout planned for the team. We will relax for a couple of hours and wait for the results of Group C that plays today, to see who our next opponent is. The boys know our club and ownership are very proud of them, and they want me to express that they will keep working hard to represent FC Dallas well in South America.

About the Mundialito tournament
Other noteworthy participants in Mundialito 2012 include Seleccion Colombia, Pachuca (Mexico), A.C. Cordoba (Argentina) and Seleccion Mexico. Current Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas played and won the Mundialito Championship with Real Madrid in 1996.

FC Dallas pre-academy ’97 roster
Armando Enrrique Arce, Joel Avilez, Eric Joseph Davies, Delfino Jr. García, Matthew Karasinski, Alexander Jong Lim, Alejandro Beto Martinez, Weston James Mckinnie, Jessi Najera, Pablo Eduardo Ocampo, Philip John Ponder, Christian Jesus Ramirez, Jason Alexander Saco-Vertiz, Martin Jr Salas, Manual Efren Santibañez, Richard James Tapia, Luis Bernardo Zuazua