Courtesy Jim Fallon

Academy U-16s advance to quarterfinals

The Houston Dynamo Academy U-16 team advanced to the quarterfinals of the Dallas Cup on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over Minnesota prep school Shattuck St. Mary's. The Dynamo finished 2-1 in Group D, in a three-way tie for first, but won the group due to a superior goal differential. Houston will face the Group E winner, likely to be Solar SC of Dallas, in a quarterfinal on Friday afternoon.

The U-16s are currently mired in sixth out of nine teams in the Texas Division, beset by injuries and call-ups to the older squad, but they have performed well at the Dallas Cup. A notable exception was in their finishing in their opening game on Monday, when the Dynamo dominated De Anza Force from San Jose, Calif., but lost 1-0 after allowing a goal on De Anza Force's only shot of the game.

Although finishing continued to be a problem in Tuesday's match against Mexican club CFI Guadalajara, the Dynamo pulled out a late win on a goal from Bryan Salazar (Fort Bend Bush) in the 78th minute of an 80-minute match. Houston saved its best performance for last, at least in the group stage, downing Shattuck St. Mary's 2-0 on Wednesday afternoon. Isaiah Noreiga, missing the state tournament run of his high school, Kingwood Park, scored the opener in the 17th minute. Houston sealed the win - and the group title on goal difference - when Hector Ramirez (Pasadena) set up Leo Ayala (Houston Sharpstown), who headed in the second goal.

Dynamo Director of Youth Development James Clarkson praised Manuel Chavez (Cy Springs) as one of the team's top performers through the first three games and was very pleased with Wednesday's win. This is the youngest Dynamo team to participate in the tournament; previously, Houston had sent U-17 and U-19 teams to the Dallas Cup, taking the U-17 title in 2008. The Dynamo South Texas Academy is competing in this year's U-19 group and is 1-0-1 heading into Wednesday night's showdown with favored Dallas Texans Red.