Academy players earn Conference USA all-freshman honor

Two Dynamo Academy players earned collegiate all-conference honors when Conference USA announced its award winners on Tuesday. University of Central Florida defender Leo Ayala and University of Tulsa midfielder Ábe Matamoros were both named to the conference’s all-freshman team.

“They’re role models for every player that’s in the Academy at the moment,” Dynamo Director of Youth Development James Clarkson said. “Their dedication on and off the field, soccer-wise and academically, is a credit to them and to their families.”

Matamoros (Strake Jesuit High School) started 14 of 17 games for Tulsa during his freshman season and notched one assist. He has been a member of the Dynamo Academy since 2007, debuting with the U-18 team as a 15-year-old in 2008 and serving as captain during his senior year of high school in 2010-11. Matamoros played in four MLS Reserve League games in 2011, including two starts, before matriculating at Tulsa.

Ayala (Challenge Early College High School) has appeared in 16 of 17 games, making 11 starts, on the UCF back line. The Knights earned the No. 3 seed in the upcoming Conference USA tournament, which begins Wednesday. Ayala has been with the Dynamo Academy since 2009. He was named Academy Player of the Year after he captained the club’s U-16s to the Dallas Cup championship and the U-17s to a third-place finish at the SUM U-17 Cup. He made one appearance for the Dynamo Reserves in a July 10 friendly and entered UCF after only three years in high school.

Matamoros and Ayala are among 13 Dynamo Academy players currently on the club’s home-grown player list while competing in college soccer, while several other former Dynamo Academy players also compete in the college ranks.

“Ábe and Leo are a good representation of the Dynamo Academy and the standard of player that’s been produced on a yearly basis,” Clarkson said. “We’re very proud not only of those two, but of all the players that graduate from our program.”