FRISCO, Texas - Sometimes the best ideas come from a potentially negative situation.
That was certainly the case with this Saturday’s inaugural Academy Day at FC Dallas Stadium.
“It was really something unfortunate in the beginning that we turned into a positive,” said Under-18 Head Coach Luchi Gonzalez. “This weekend we host the Shawnee Trail tournament which is very important to the club, so all the fields were reserved for this weekend. We got notice from the grounds people that we were going to have to play our home game away in another facility.”
With three games left in the season and a two-point lead atop their division, Gonzalez knew that giving up any home field advantage wasn’t an option so he and his coaching staff came up with a creative solution.
“This is a crucial point in our season and we were trying to think of creative ways where we could still create a home environment,” said Gonzalez. “We saw that the first team is traveling and the stadium is available, so we brought it up to ownership and the technical director. It turns out they were able to grant permission for us to use the stadium.”
FC Dallas is inviting all fans and youth teams out to Saturday’s Academy Day which will serve as not only a showcase of the top two teams in the academy, but a celebration of everything FCD youth. Homegrown players who did not travel to Seattle with the first team will be out signing autographs, many elements of first team games like FC Drum and the FC Dallas Girls will be out there and free tickets to the May 25 game against San Jose.
The gates open at 9:30 with kickoff between the FC Dallas and Real Colorado under-18s scheduled for 10:00AM while the under-16 match will follow at 12:30PM.
“Playing in the stadium is a tremendous honor,” said Chris Hayden, VP of FC Dallas Youth. “It’s like when we have players that play with the reserves, the connection with the first team is real, it’s not just on paper.
“Our staff communicates daily with the pro staff, there’s a lot of communication about the standard of play and the style of play. The stadium is a natural extension of that connection and it’s a great opportunity for us to go and defend our home ground.”
On any given weekend, FC Dallas Technical Director Fernando Clavijo can be seen taking in the FCD Development Academy games and he will be attending Saturday’s Academy Day.
“Not only are our kids playing on the same field where the pros play every weekend, but at the same time showing other players that the academy is as important to us as the pro team though they are, of course, at a different level,” said Clavijo. “It shows we don’t just play in a park or high school, which there’s nothing wrong with that, but this is a professional academy and a professional team.”
Saturday’s matches will be a special chance to give the best young players of FC Dallas a taste of the experience they aspire to achieve every weekend in the future.
“We’ll be in our same locker room, but to be able to walk down stairs instead of outside to a regular field,” said Gonzalez. “To walk down to the tunnel will be special to them.”