In the latest edition of Road to the First Team, presented by Statoil, we caught up with Dynamo Academy forward Irvin Ramirez. The U-18 winger joined the Academy almost three years ago and has enjoyed much success in the program including seven goals scored in 22 matches in 2013.
The following eight players from this season’s Center of Excellence training program have been invited by Dynamo staff coaches to trial with the Junior Academy program for the next several weeks with an eye towards potentially joining the Junior Academy for the remainder of the spring season. These players have been invited to this elite level training program because of their mentality and focus in training sessions, their skillful performances in the Center of Excellence training session and the Houston Dynamo Champions League, and their positive attitude and work ethic both on and off the field.
Cristian Coelho (Katy)
Jackson Gill (Katy)
Alexander Canales (Sugar Land)
Ian Mayral Boyle (Moody)
Matias Ferrar (Moody)
Martin Schumacher (Moody)
Adam Cerna (Katy)
Yusuf Hussein (Moody)
“The Center of Excellence exists to provide professional coaching and training to 8-12 year old boys and girls so that we can help a great number of soccer players to further develop their soccer skills, to increase their love of the game, and to connect the Houston community more fully with the Houston Dynamo," said Houston Dynamo Soccer Program Manager Justin Neese. "The program also exists to identify players who might potentially have the ability and mentality to play in other Dynamo programs and teams. That these players have been indentified and offered this opportunity is excellent news for our program and for all of its players.”
Congratulations to these players!
Homegrown signing Bryan Salazar hasn't fully joined the first team yet, but he's been making the most of his farewell tour with the Dynamo Academy, presented by Statoil.
The forward has scored four goals in two matches at the 2013 Dallas Cup thus far, including a hat-trick during the team's 7-0 romp of Towers Football Academy from the United Kingdom.
Here's video of his goal against Mexican side C.F. San Nicolas, keying a 4-1 victory for the Dynamo U-18s:
It's almost fitting that today's announcement that the Dynamo signed Academy forward Bryan Salazar to a homegrown contract coincides with the sixth anniversary of the Dynamo Academy's first training session. Despite being only six years old, the Academy has enjoyed much success both on a domestic and international scale. Here are some of the key moments in Dynamo Academy history.
November 16, 2006 - Dynamo hire James Clarkson to be Director of Youth Development
When the Dynamo announced they would be launching an Academy program, the next step was finding someone to run it. Clarkson brought a wealth of experience to the table, previously serving as South Texas Youth Soccer Association's Director of Coaching as well as a national instructor for US Soccer and US Youth Soccer.
March 2007 - Dynamo Academy advances to finals of Dallas Cup
With less than three months of organized training sessions behind them, the Dynamo Academy advanced to the finals of the Dallas Cup, losing to IMG Academy in a penalty shootout. The squad was led by former Dynamo midfielder Josue Soto and Pana Vasquez, the first player to sign with the Dynamo Academy.
March 23, 2008 - Dynamo Academy breaks through and wins Dallas Cup
A year after losing to IMG Academy in the finals, the Dynamo Academy broke through and defeated IMG Academy 2-1 to win the 2008 Dallas Cup. Houston breezed through the group stage with a 10-0 goal differential, led by current Notre Dame goalkeeper Pat Wall.
February 27, 2009 - Dynamo sign Tyler Deric as first homegrown player
After a standout freshman campaign at the University of North Carolina, the Dynamo signed goalkeeper Tyler Deric as their first homegrown player. A graduate of Klein High School, Deric led his high school team to the UIL 5A state championship as a sophomore. Deric became the second player in MLS to sign a homegrown contract.
August 2009 - Dynamo Academy closes out Euro tour with win over Real Madrid Academy
It was a historic win for the Dynamo Academy and one that concluded a 12-day memorable trip for the young Dynamo players. The Dynamo U-16s followed up a win over Rangers (Scotland) with a 3-2 win over the Real Madrid U-16 squad. The trip included matches against the Celtic Academy and Barcelona Academy.
March 10, 2010 - Navas Cobo becomes second Dynamo homegrown player
After a successful stint with the Dynamo Academy, Francisco Navas Cobo became the second Dynamo player to sign a homegrown contract. The Houston-born midfielder played appeared in one regular season game during his two-year stint with Houston.
April 4, 2010 - Dynamo U-16s win Dallas Cup
After winning the tournament two years earlier, the Dynamo won for the second time in three years, defeating Santa Clara Sporting in the championships match. Current Duquesne forward Isaiah Noreiga scored two goals in the finals to cap off his four-goal tournament.
April 17, 2010 - Navas Cobo becomes first Dynamo Academy player to play an MLS game
Although it was a stoppage time substitution, Francisco Navas Cobo entered the game early-season game against Chivas USA, becoming the first Dynamo Academy player to earn first team minutes.
October 16, 2010 - Deric becomes first Dynamo Academy product to start an MLS game
With the goalkeeping unit depleted by injuries, Tyler Deric became the first Dynamo Academy player to start an MLS game when he took the field against the San Jose Earthqukes on October 16, 2010. Deric showed poise in net, stopping three shots on his way to his first win and shutout. He followed that performance up with a 2-1 win over the Seattle Sounders in season finale at Robertson Stadium.
January 2011 - Dynamo add a pair of homegrown signings
Alex Dixon and Josue Soto took different paths to get to the Dynamo, but both signed their homegrown contracts in January 2011. Soto was a standout collegiate performer at Campbell University and Southern Methodist University. Dixon was a regular at the U.S Residency program in Florida, before enrolling at the University of North Carolina.
August 20, 2011 - Dixon becomes first Dynamo Academy player to score MLS goal
Known as much for its "Woo-hoo!" goal call as it is for the actual goal, Alex Dixon became the first Dynamo Academy player to score an MLS goal with his stoppage-time winner against Real Salt Lake on August 20, 2011. Even if you have seen this goal already, it's worth watching again.
January 11, 2012 - Eddie Robinson retires from soccer and joins Academy coaching staff
With four MLS Cups on his resume, Dynamo center back Eddie Robinson chose to hang up his cleats after the 2011 season and join the Dynamo Academy coaching staff. Robinson was named head coach of the Dynamo U-16 squad and currently has the team in first place in their division with a 12-3-1 record.
May 10, 2012 - Dynamo Academy christens new stadium with soft opening event
It was a night that few of the players will forget as the Dynamo Academy U-18s played the U.S. U-17 national team in the first game at BBVA Compass Stadium. Although the Dynamo were dangerous all night, they could not find the back of the net as head coach Richie Williams and the U-17 MNT took the match 3-0.
February 14, 2013 - Bryan Salazar becomes fifth homegrown signing for Houston
Bryan Salazar joined the Dynamo Junior Academy program in August 2007 with the goal of eventually playing for the first team. His dream was realized on Thursday when he was introduced as the newest member of the Houston Dynamo. The Fort Bend Bush High School senior leads the Dynamo U-18s with nine goals this season.
The weather forecast calls for 70 degrees and clear skies in Houston on Saturday, which is good news for soccer fans who are looking to see the Dynamo in action.
Houston will continue their preseason campaign with a scrimmage against Houston Baptist University at 11 a.m. at the Houston Amateur Sports Park. The Dynamo opened preseason camp on Monday and defeated the Dynamo Academy 3-0 in a scrimmage on Thursday. Saturday's scrimmage is free and open to the public.
Speaking of the Dynamo Academy, for fans who can't get enough live soccer, the Dynamo Academy will host the Sporting Kansas City Academy on Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, the U-18s will kick off at 2 p.m. with the U-16s to follow at 4:30. On Sunday, the U-18s kick off at 10:30 a.m. with the U-16s to follow at 1 p.m.
The Dynamo U-18s currently sit in fourth place in their division, one spot ahead of the Sporting KC U-18s. The Dynamo U-16s are in third place in their division and are coming off a come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Dallas Texans last weekend.
MLSssoccer.com's Houston Dynamo beat writer Darrell Lovell is reporting that Dynamo Academy product Sebastien Ibeagha, one of the top prospects in college soccer has turned down an offer from Major League Soccer and will return to Duke for his senior season.
Hearing Dynamo homegrown product Sebastien Ibeagha is 100% going back to school at Duke for his SR yr. Dynamo made a big run at him.
— Darrell Lovell(@DarrellLovell) December 20, 2012
The reigning ACC defender of the year has been a staple of the Duke back line over the past three seasons and has also been involved with multiple U.S. youth national team camps. Ibeagha was part of the 2010 Dynamo U-18 squad that advanced to the playoffs in its inaugural season in the USSF Development Academy League.