FRISCO - Over the last few years, the FC Dallas ECNL program has grown from a program finding its way to a north Texas powerhouse. Now, they’re ready to make some noise on the national stage.
Taking four teams to the national playoffs which begin Friday in Oceanside, California, the ECNL program is looking to advance multiple teams to the national semifinals for the first time ever. It’s the most teams FCD has ever taken to the ECNL National Playoffs up from two in 2015 and one in 2014.
“When you get the right players in the right environment, in the right challenge, and the balance of challenge and success is right, then you get a lot of development and a lot of growth,” said ECNL Academy coach Matt Grubb. “I think that’s just a product of the staff working together and also to the kids really busting it and really getting after it, really wanting to make a name for FC Dallas.”
Having sent at least a dozen players to youth national team camps this year, the 2015-2016 season is the best yet for the girls division of FC Dallas Youth. With a well-established staff now having years of continuity together, the environment is producing players who could feature for the US Women’s National Team one day and beginning to finish near the top of the standings, something that wasn’t the case a few years ago.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to take some notes from the professional side which has led the way for MLS youth player development. FC Dallas is one of just two MLS teams, along with Orlando City, to have an ECNL program.
“I keep going back to that phrase that Oscar [Pareja] coined, ‘Busca la forma’,” said Grubb. “These kids see that we’re going to give them the tools but we’re not going to tell them and dictate to them how they go about it. You see a lot of coaches take the creativity out of the game, which is why people play, for the fun and the love and what they can do with a ball.”
And these girls can do some pretty impressive things. FC Dallas ECNL has never won a national championship before, but they see that as an attainable goal this year or in the near future, especially with a program full of young talent.
“We’ve worked so hard. We’ve had running assignments and countless games and we’ve definitely put in the work,” said defender Emily Sample. “We’re excited to go and compete for a national championship.”
“I think it will take a lot of sacrifice for each other and our teammates and just hard work and grit and we’ve just got to get after it.”