Dallas Gaining Respect For Youth Development

Dallas Gaining Respect For Youth Development

  • Posted by Drew Epperley
  • On January 28, 2011
  • Academy Signings, Home Grown Players

Victor Ulloa, Moises Hernandez and Ruben Luna after they signed with FC Dallas. (photo via FC Dallas)

Maybe it is because I’m blinded by the fact that I live in Dallas and I know about the youth soccer development that is going on here but it seems others outside of town are starting to take notice. As they should really.

FC Dallas has been producing talent left and right here lately. The club leads the way in Major League Soccer in terms of academy players signed to professional contracts. With five players on their senior roster from their academy system Dallas is leading the youth movement charge in MLS.

It isn’t just stopping there, the talent FCD is getting will continue to increase as we move forward this year. Recently Dallas opened up their new in-house residency program in association with the local Frisco ISD, otherwise known as the FC Dallas Soccer Intensive Academic Curriculum (SIAC).

Players from around the region here are training with the club during the morning/evening while going to school near Pizza Hut Park. A program truly ahead of most MLS clubs right now. They launched this program last fall with only two players but as of this semester they have up to 20 players in-house training and going to school under their system.

Dallas and it’s surrounding area has always been a bit of a hotbed for soccer talent. With the likes of Clint Dempsey, Omar Gonzalez and Drew Moor to name a few, the talent has always been there and now FC Dallas is taking advantage of it.

For now it may not translate into immediate success on the MLS field or even for the future of US Soccer. Two of FC Dallas’s academy-to-pro players are in the Mexican youth national team system. Bryan Leyva suited up for Mexico at the U-17 level in the World Cup in 2009, and forward Ruben Luna just received his first call to the Mexican U-20 national team. Luna has seen some playing time with the club and showed promise last season when he was called into action. I’d imagine we’ll see Levya, Victor Ulloa and Moises Hernandez at some point this season as well.

In terms of youth development you have to be happy at where Dallas is at and where they are going with it. The club isn’t at all afraid to try an academy player out and will continue to do so in the coming year. With the roster restrictions gone for the number of academy players you can have on your team, you can bet Dallas will continue to lead the way in academy signings. The club already wants to get their academy rosters enrolled in their new SIAC program, once that is done they’ll have the chance to truly groom their players as they see fit on a more consistent basis.

Dallas isn’t close to an Ajax or Barcelona just yet but they are arguably leading the charge for youth development in MLS.

For someone who’s always been pushing the youth development in MLS I’m happy to see its a club like Dallas honestly. I don’t mean to sound biased or anything but what they are doing is truly great to see.

Kudos also has to go out to Houston, New York, D.C. and to a lesser extent Toronto and Chivas USA for their efforts in the youth movement as well. At this point MLS has 13 of their 18 clubs with academy signings on their rosters. I’d imagine we’ll see clubs like Seattle, Portland, and Columbus sign players before long. Same should be said for Real Salt Lake who also have a residency program of their own going right now. They will join the academy fun soon enough I bet.