As the calendar turns from March to April, all eyes in the youth soccer community will turn to north Texas, as Dallas prepares to host Dr Pepper Dallas Cup XXXIII. The tournament is scheduled to run from April 1-8.
For the sixth-consecutive year, the Houston Dynamo Academy, presented by Statoil, will participate in one of the pre-eminent youth soccer tournaments in the world. The two-time Dallas Cup champions will send teams in the U-17, U-16 and U-15 age groups, with the Dynamo’s South Texas Academy (McAllen, TX) competing in the U-19 age group.
“We don’t play in many tournaments,” said James Clarkson, Dynamo Director of Youth Development. “This is the most prestigious tournament we play in and the week away does wonders for the teams’ camaraderie. It’s certainly a nice break from the day-to-day grind of training and playing in the Academy league.”
Although Clarkson is excited about the squads that Houston will send to Dallas, his expectations are tempered due to the tournament's age restrictions. For the U-17 squad, all players must be born Aug. 1, 1994 or later. That means the majority of players in the Dynamo’s U-17 team at the Dallas Cup will come from their Academy U-16 team. However, they will benefit from four players on the Academy U-18 squad (Alex Ochoa, Bryan Salazar, Christian Camara and Chris Diaz) who are young enough to play with the U-17s in Dallas. The same goes for the younger squads, as the Dynamo's U-15 team will play in the U-16 age group and the Dynamo's U-14 team will play in the U-15 age group.
“I think for all three teams it will be a challenge because we will be playing up an age group,” Clarkson said. “We have very young rosters, so just from a physical standpoint it will be a challenge.”
The format of the Dallas Cup is simple. All age groups are broken into smaller brackets with four teams in each bracket. The group stage is a round-robin format with the first place team in each group advancing to the quarterfinals.
The U-17s will begin group play on Sunday, April 1, when they take on UAE Precor, a youth club from the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East. The other teams in their group are PAC Tigres (CA) and Sockers FC (Chicago).
The U-16s also begin group play on Sunday with a match against West Coast FC (CA). Other teams in that group include the India U-16 national team and Dallas Texas White West.
Lastly, the U-15s kick off on Monday against Sockers FC (Chicago). They will follow that up with games on Tuesday and Wednesday against Mana (Mexico) and Juventus Forza (CA), respectively.
“Part of the appeal of playing in the Dallas Cup is testing ourselves against the international competition,” Clarkson said. “We will not have a chance to see the team from the UAE before we play them, but we’ll have scouts watching the other games so we’ll have some idea what to expect. Part of the excitement, though, is having the chance to play teams that we don’t normally play.”
|U-17 Age Group|
|4/1 - Sun||Houston Dynamo vs. UAE Precor||2:30 p.m.||Richland College Field 10|
|4/2 - Mon||Houston Dynamo vs. Sockers FC||6 p.m.||FC Dallas Park Field 14|
|4/4 - Wed||Houston Dynamo vs. PAC Tigres||10 a.m.||FC Dallas Park Field 15|
|U-16 Age Group|
|4/1 - Sun||Houston Dynamo vs. West Coast FC||10:30 a.m.||FC Dallas Park Field 6|
|4/2 - Mon||Houston Dynamo vs. India U-16 national team||10 a.m.||FC Dallas Park Field 17|
|4/4 - Wed||Houston Dynamo vs. Dallas Texans White West||4 p.m.||Richland College Field 3|
|U-15 Age Group|
|4/2 - Mon||Houston Dynamo vs. Sockers FC||12 noon||FC Dallas Park Field 14|
|4/3 - Tue||Houston Dynamo vs. Mana||12 noon||FC Dallas Park Field 7|
|4/4 - Wed||Houston Dynamo vs. Jueventus Forza||10 a.m.||Richland College Field 4|
|U-19 Age Group|
|4/1 - Sun||Houston Dynamo STX Academy vs. Puerto Rico U-19 national team||12:30 p.m.||FC Dallas Park Field 14|
|4/2 - Mon||Houston Dynamo STX Academy vs. Shattuck St. Mary's||10 a.m.||FC Dallas Park Field 7|
|4/4 - Wed||Houston Dynamo STX Academy vs. Santa Clara Sporting||2 p.m.||FC Dallas Park Field 7|