Academy 2017 Regular Season Finale
FC Dallas/Cameron Drummond

Academy Teams Finish Regular Seasons, Clinch Postseason Spots

DENTON - While the players may have changed, the results stay the same.

One year removed from winning both the U-18 and U-16 U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Championships, FC Dallas will have an opportunity to do the double again.

The U-18 and U-16 sides each finished regular season play on Saturday at Texas Women's University against Solar Chelsea Soccer Club. Both Dallas teams were already assured of qualification into the USSDA Playoffs in late June, but the U-18 team's seeding was up in the air.

U-18s close season with blowout victory

The U-18 team had already claimed the Central Frontier Division title, but were also looking to secure a spot among the top eight teams nationally for the USSDA Playoffs. The top eight teams are the top seeds for the group play portion of the playoffs, and those eight seeds would also host a knockout round match if the team advances from group play.

Dallas entered the match ranked eighth nationally, and put on a performance worthy of a top-eight finish. An 8-1 rout of Solar was punctuated by a four-goal performance from Arturo Rodríguez and a goal and an assist from Homegrown Jesus Ferreira.

"I think our shape kicked in and our fitness kicked in, especially in the second half," U-18 head coach Francisco Molina said. "The quality and the performance of our players, and how we train every week, kicked in."

The Dallas defense was anchored by Brandon Terwege and Reggie Cannon, who was part of the senior team roster for last Thursday's MLS match against Chicago.

The win gives Dallas a 17-5-3 record in regular season play, with a points per game average of 2.16. The USSDA standings are based upon each team's points per game average.

Some teams below Dallas still have up to three games remaining, but can't mathematically pass Dallas in the points per game category. 

This year's roster may not include the players who won last year's U-18 crown, but it includes players like Ferreira and Aldo Quevedo, who helped FC Dallas win the 2016 U-16 title.

"I think we feel confident in this program and confident in this group," Molina said. "It's a new group of kids. In our program we don't just rely on one player and with the support we have already here, I feel good about the playoffs.  

U-16s win 21 of 25 regular season matches

Less was on the line for the U-16 team, but they didn't play like it.

The team managed by Academy Director Luchi Gonzalez had already won the Central Frontier Division and claimed the top overall seed for the USSDA Playoffs, but still wanted to end its season on a high.

A gritty, 2-0 win over Solar saw goals from Adrian Morales and Brayan Padilla, as well as a spectacular goal line clearance by Imanol Almaguer. The result means Dallas finishes the regular season with a record of 21-2-2, and a points per game average of 2.6

"I'm disappointed that we weren't dominating, like we normally do, on the ball," Gonzalez said. "But, for me the positive is even though we didn't play well, we still got a result. The mentality was there, we just need to be a little sharper."

Last year's U-16 team also entered the postseason as the top seed, before going on to win their second consecutive USSDA National Championship.

"I'm okay with not playing great because it gives us something to build on and improve," Gonzalez said. "This group has had a really high standard all year, and I'm really proud of our regular season. But our standard is to finish first, not enter the playoffs first."

Both the U-16 and U-18 squads will head to Indianapolis June 22-26 for the group stages of USSDA Playoffs.