The Houston Dynamo Academy kicked off the Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup on Sunday and got off to a rough start, losing all three games they played.
The Academy U-16s, who are competing in the U-17 bracket, fell 4-2 to UAE Precor, a youth team from the United Arab Emirates. Midfielder Carlos Ibarra picked up a red card in the 10th minute and the Dynamo found themselves in a 2-0 hole after the 30-minute mark. The squad regrouped in the second half behind goals from Bryan Salazar and Elochukwu Ozumba, but the defense could not keep UAE Precor off the board. Edgar Garibay scored in the 68th minute and Tim Ruhrseitz scored off a free kick in the 73rd minute to give the Middle Eastern side the opening match victory.
The Pre-Academy U-15s, who are competing in the U-16 bracket, fell 2-1 to West Coast FC in their opening match. West Coast FC's Nathan Chow and Aleksander Cucuk scored in the first half to give the California club an early lead. Josue Palomino pulled one back for Houston in the 50th minute, but that would be all of the offense Houston could muster.
In the U-19 age group, the Dynamo South Texas Academy (McAllen) fell 2-0 to the Puerto Rican U-19 national team.
While the younger teams battle for hardware in Dallas, the Academy U-18s participated in the 2012 HFA Tournament, presented by Taco Bell at Bear Creek Park. The Dynamo competed in the Open division, with a $1,000 cash prize at stake. On Saturday, the Academy defeated Houston Rangers, ASC Stars and EP Elite to advance to the semifinals.
On Sunday, despite a significant size disadvantage, the Academy played Houston-based amateur club Feelin Old to a scoreless draw. After two 30-minute halves, the teams went straight to a penalty shootout. Goalkeeper Leopoldo Castillo made one save and Dynamo shooters went 5-5 to advance to the final match.
In the final, the Dynamo Academy faced a familiar foe, local amateur club ASC New Stars. New Stars won the HFA Premier Division and are one of the top amateur clubs in the region. After a scoreless first half, Houston went on the board in the 60th minute after midfielder Alan Arellano hammered home a penalty kick. The lead was short-lived as ASC stormed back minutes later and took advantage of a dropped ball by Castillo to even the match.
The two teams battled for the remaining twenty minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtime periods but could not find an additional goal. In the ensuing penalty shootout, both teams connected on their first four attempts. In the fifth round, ASC's shooter drilled the ball off the crossbar to open the door for an Academy victory. Midfielder Isaiah Noreiga, who converted the fifth penalty kick in the semifinal shootout hit the ball well but could not get the ball past the diving ASC goalkeeper.
With the two squads tied at four through five rounds, the shootout went to sudden death. The sixth ASC shooter stepped up the ball and fired it down the middle of the goal. Castillo dove to his right but managed to reach his left hand back toward the center of the goal to deflect the ball up in the air. The ball went straight up and landed in front of the goal line. Midfielder Glen Reid then stepped up for Houston as the sixth shooter and fired the game-winning goal past the ASC keeper. The win marked the first time an Academy squad had won the HFA tournament.