FRISCO - FC Dallas signed its 20th Academy product to a professional contract on Friday afternoon - one who has taken a very unique path.
Just hours before the yearly MLS roster freeze as the schedule nears the end of the season the club announced the signing of goalkeeper Eduardo Cortes, better known as Pollo, who graduated from the Dallas Academy system in 2012. Cortes joined the FCD's youth ranks in 2009 and was the starting goalkeeper for the club's first U.S. Soccer Development Academy National Championship in 2012 alongside Kellyn Acosta and Aaron Guillen. He would've been considered a Homegrown signing, but because the goalkeeper went unselected in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, he is no longer holds Homegrown status by MLS rules.
The now 24-year-old attended Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis for four years before professional stints with Saint Louis FC (USL) in 2016 and Indy Eleven (NASL) for preseason in 2017. He retuned home to Dallas earlier in the year and has been a regular additional goalkeeper during trainings for much of the season.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity,” Cortes said. “I’ve been working very hard throughout these months and the coaching staff, it’s a vote of confidence for me to get the opportunity and even thought it’s been a rough journey here. Just to be here and to be able to have the opportunity to play for my hometown is a blessing. I’m very happy.”
Dallas has had an opening at third goalkeeper on the roster for much of the season. Last month, they were hopeful fellow Academy product Richard Sanchez would fall to them in league waivers, but he was picked up by Chicago. The team has another Academy goalkeeper, Carlos Avilez, already signed on a USL deal, but Avilez is the Mexican U-18 National Team’s No. 1 goalkeeper and with the team in China right now. He expected be called in several times over the course of the rest of the season. After Friday’s roster freeze, Avilez would not have been able to sign with the pro team in any emergency scenario.
Cortes’ work during training over the last few months made him the easy choice to fill the team’s depth goalkeeping void.
“Being able to train with the first team was a huge advantage for me to keep going,” he said. “Drew [Keeshan, FCD’s goalkeeping coach] has been helping me since I was in the Academy. I’ve just been learning from him, learning from Jesse [Gonzalez] and [Chris] Seitz as well. They’ve helped me become the true professional that I am.”