FC Dallas Academy makes club’s future outlook bright

May 21, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta (23) celebrates at the final whistle during their 4-2 win over the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
May 21, 2016; Foxborough, MA, USA; FC Dallas midfielder Kellyn Acosta (23) celebrates at the final whistle during their 4-2 win over the New England Revolution at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /

The development of the academies at MLS clubs is a key part of the leagues continued growth. Few MLS clubs boast the youth system of FC Dallas and the future prospects could push the club to the top.

The story of MLS to this point has been all about development. The continual development of the league from a startup towards the goal of being a top league. The development of soccer specific stadiums and fan bases, along with developing a skilled player pool to draw upon have all progressed over the past two decades.

Of all the development actions regarding the league, perhaps the most difficult or slowest moving has been the development of the academies. Starting and maturing an academy takes time. It also requires good infrastructure, good scouts and the proper staff to develop the players identified.

While all teams understand the importance of having a good academy (especially considering the advantages of the homegrown player rules), not all academies have seen the same attention or results. Some have been plagued by lack of effort from the club involvement, while some have not been setup or managed efficiently.

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One model of success in MLS academies has been the FC Dallas academy. It has produced the most homegrown players to date. The current senior team roster includes significant contributors like Kellyn Acosta, Victor Ulloa and Jesse Gonzalez. Eighteen year old midfielder Alex Zendejas is the latest academy product to move on to the FC Dallas senior team.

With a core of quality “homegrown” players to add to the designated player and international slots, FC Dallas has flexibility to build a competitive roster. The level of players that the FC Dallas academy are putting out is as impressive as the number of players. Gonzalez has represented Mexico in goal at the U-20 level and was named to the preliminary roster for the Mexican Olympic squad.

After representing the United States at the youth levels, Kellyn Acosta made his senior appearance for the Stars and Stripes this year. Acosta has been a fixture in the FC Dallas starting lineup over the past two seasons. He is still shy of his 21st birthday and has the makings of an important contributor on the club and international level.

While the current crop of academy players are contributing at a high level for FC Dallas, the current pipeline appears to be full of promise as well. The FC Dallas Academy teams at the U-18, U-16 and U-14 levels recently closed out their seasons in impressive fashion. According to FCDallas.com, all three teams finished the season at the top of their divisions, with the U-14 team completing an undefeated season.

While success at age 14, 16 or 18 does not guarantee success for a player as a professional, the continued development of players in a winning environment increases the chances that a handful of these players will make a successful transition to the senior team someday.

With the amount of talent in the state of Texas along with the network of youth teams under the FC Dallas umbrella, FCD are casting a wide net to identify and acquire the best youth talent it can. With the successful development of several academy players over the past few years, it stands to reason that the scouting and coaching staffs are in place to continue to build their talent pool.

Creating an ample supply of players who have developed in your system and are equal or above the level of their competition is a huge advantage for a club. A solid supply of fresh, talented players can keep a team competing for not only the MLS Cup, but also for other silverware based on the depth of the squad. What FCD is doing is laying a foundation for continued success.

Next: FC Dallas in desperate need of home cooking

FC Dallas fans know that even when the senior team is not playing, they can still have access to skilled teams playing a beautiful game. Those teams wear the FC Dallas colors and grace the fields in the shadow of Toyota Stadium in Frisco. Their names are not known by the soccer world yet, but the future of FC Dallas and MLS is theirs for the taking. It is just a matter of time and developing.