FRISCO - When last year’s FC Dallas U-16s felt the pain of losing to Eintracht Frankfurt on PKs in the semifinals of the Generation adidas Cup, they used that as motivation on their run to the US Soccer Development Academy National Championship.
The next class of FC Dallas Academy players will have the opportunity to write their own Generation adidas Cup story this weekend as qualifying begins in Kansas City.
“This is a big deal for the club,” said Academy Director Luchi Gonzalez. “We’ve been finalists and semifinalists and now it’s an international tournament, so this is a great opportunity to qualify for the top tier of the tournament playing against some of the tops clubs in the world which is what we’re measured against.”
Placed in a group with Chicago, Columbus, Sporting Kansas City and the Houston Dynamo, FCD will open qualifying on Friday at 4:30 against Columbus before facing SKC on Saturday and the Chicago Fire on Monday. This is one of two qualifying events with the second one coming in Houston in February. The championship round will once again be hosted by FC Dallas during Dr Pepper Dallas Cup week in mid-March.
“Especially for the fact that this is my first year for the club, it’s a great experience,” said defender Matt D’Annunzio. “It’s really the most competitive clubs in the nation going head to head against each other.”
Whoever is top of the group after five rounds of games will automatically qualify for the Championship division while the second and third place teams will play for the final spot.
“For some of the kids coming from the younger U-15s, they’re not used to playing other MLS clubs except for the Houston Dynamo since they play teams from around the state,” said Gonzalez. “They’re not used to playing against Chicago, Columbus, this is really exciting for them because they’re playing the same teams that their idols play against. You see it in the qualifier, it means a lot to them and then with them having the ability to qualify to be in the main event here at home.”
Last season, FC Dallas defeated Athletic Bilbao, Pumas and Real Salt Lake en route to the semifinal where they fell on penalty kicks to Eintracht Frankfurt. For many of the traveling squad, this is the first real test of playing against other Major League Soccer Academies in a competitive environment, something that helps to separate the proverbial men from the boys.
“I think this is a group that can compete well in this GA Cup and I think this is just another opportunity to represent the club and represent themselves,” said Gonzalez. “Because they know this year becomes the true test and this year becomes when you start to see the true signs of a professional player so they know that individually but it can only be done as a collective group.”