FRISCO, Texas – Following U.S. Soccer’s recent decision to end the Development Academy program, FC Dallas President Dan Hunt reiterated his and the club’s ongoing focus on player development despite the new landscape.
“The fact that U.S. Soccer is pulling its support is disappointing to me but at the same time I respect it,” Hunt said in a conference call with media on Thursday, April 16. “The Development Academy was a great thing and I’m proud of what we did and accomplished at FC Dallas. It also doesn’t mean that it’s over. MLS is going to get involved and help support what the next iteration looks like.”
Player development has long been a point of emphasis for FC Dallas. The club won multiple USSDA titles after joining in 2008 and has signed a league-leading 28 players to MLS Homegrown contracts. While the landscape has undoubtedly changed, the club’s ethos will not.
“Youth development is not going away,” Hunt continued. “It is our life blood at FC Dallas. It’s who we are. It’s what we’ve become known for from an organizational standpoint. We’ve built these great Homegrown players and we’re so incredibly blessed. I think we do a very good job of mining talent here in Texas and in the surrounding states. We have a lot of scouting that goes on and that’s not going to stop. We’re not going to stop building FC Dallas on our own youth talent—that’s just at the core of who we are.”
FC Dallas’ youth development efforts have also had an impact at the international level. Last month, three FCD products – Reggie Cannon, Jesús Ferreira, and Paxton Pomykal – were named to the USMNT U-23 team that was scheduled to compete in Olympic qualifying prior to the tournament’s postponement. Hunt believes the onus lies with MLS teams to continue developing players for the future success of the national team setup.
“It’s the club’s responsibilities in this country to ensure that we have a good national team program,” he said. “And that starts with each and every MLS club developing top young talent and putting them in an environment where they can be successful.”
While it’s still too early to speculate the exact arrangement for player development in the absence of the USSDA, Hunt is confident that FC Dallas will remain a leader in the space.
“As long as there’s a platform for player development and identifying these kids early, I can’t imagine that we can’t make this better and improve the player quality,” Hunt said. “We’ll be participating in whatever MLS comes up with to the best of our ability. As a member club, I think it’s incumbent upon us to be a leader. So, whatever they decide that format looks like, just know that we’re going to be supplementing what we do. We’re not going to do the bare minimum on this. We take this very seriously and you’ll see us build a very robust platform around what we do.”