FC Dallas is most famous for its renowned academy and youth programs which are consistently ranked as the best in the league and the country as a whole.
This week will start part 1 of our Homegrown History series, highlighting all the homegrown player signings FC Dallas has made throughout the years.
Signed: September 16, 2009
Bryan Leyva will always live on in FC Dallas history as the first-ever homegrown player signing from the FC Dallas academy. Signed midway through the 2009 season, Leyva did not make his professional debut until the 2010 season against the LA Galaxy, but it wasn’t until the 2012 season that the former Mexican U17 international earned a more frequent spot in the lineup as he made his career-high 8 MLS appearances that season as the team dealt with a litany of injuries.
Leyva made a ton of appearances in the old MLS Reserve League but was never able to make an impact with the first team and he was released following the 2012 season.
Signed: July 30, 2010
Garland native Ruben Luna was signed along with two other homegrowns in 2010 and was the first homegrown player to really break into the first team at FC Dallas.
A forward who primarily played as a central striker, Luna made a handful of appearances in 2010, but became a more significant contributor in 2011, making 15 appearances in MLS and netting a goal, the first-ever scored by an FC Dallas homegrown. Luna also netted a brace in CONCACAF Champions League play in 2011 and lit up the MLS Reserve League when he wasn’t with the first team. However, Luna wasn’t able to continue on this success in 2012, only making 7 league appearances with a single goal and was released at the end of the 2012 season after spending some time on loan with San Antonio Scorpions.
Following his time at FCD, Luna spent time with the Atlanta Silverbacks, Inter Playa del Carmen, and finally RGV Toros in the USL before retiring after the 2017 season.
Signed: July 30, 2010
The second of the trio of homegrowns signed during the 2010 season, Hernandez did not make his first league appearance in the first team until the 2014 season, after spending parts of 2012 and 2013 on loan with Costa Rican side Deportivo Saprissa.
Following the resignation of Schellas Hyndman at the end of the 2013 season and the hiring of Oscar Pareja ahead of 2014, Hernandez broke into the starting lineup at left-back during the 2014 season, making a career-high 17 appearances and playing over 1000 minutes. Hernandez continued to play a role in the first team in 2015, though he appeared in 3 fewer league games as Ryan Hollingshead took the starting job at left-back. Hernandez then spent the 2016 season on loan with short-lived Rayo OKC in the NASL.
Hernandez and the club parted ways following the 2016 season and Hernandez went down to Guatemala, the country he represents internationally and spent 2017 and half of 2018 with CSD Comunicaciones before returning to FCD in the second half of the 2018 season. After not making an appearance in 2018, he was sent on loan to San Antonio FC for the whole of the 2019 season and he is now on the books back in Guatemala with Antigua.
Signed: July 30, 2010
The final of the homegrown trio signed in 2010, Victor Ulloa marks the first true success story for the FC Dallas academy. Ulloa currently holds the record for most games played by an FC Dallas homegrown, having made well over 100 appearances during his 8-year stint with the club. This statistic becomes more impressive when you realize that Ulloa did not make his mark on the first team until 2014, three and a half years after signing.
Essentially left unused by Schellas Hyndman, Ulloa made one single 9-minute appearance in 2011 and did not see the field in 2012 or 2013. He was released by the club at the end of the 2013 season before being re-signed by new manager Oscar Pareja ahead of the 2014 season. Ulloa flourished under Pareja, making at least 23 league appearances in each subsequent season, with his best season coming in 2015 as he started all but one MLS game.
In the double-winning 2016 season, Ulloa maintained a regular place in the team as the Wylie native continued to play an important role starting or coming off the bench, a role that continued in his remaining time in Dallas until he was traded to FC Cincinnati ahead of their inaugural 2019 season.
Ulloa was then sent to Inter Miami, another expansion team, ahead of the 2020 season, in which he started the first two games for David Beckham’s club before the COVID-19 shutdown.
Signed: January 12, 2011
Signed ahead of the 2011 season, Fort Worth native and member of the U18/19 Academy team that won the DA championship in 2012 Jonathan Top did not make his MLS debut until the 2012 season.
In that injury-ravaged season, Top made 4 appearances, his only 4 appearances for the first team. Impressively, he managed to record both a goal and an assist in just over 100 minutes of play, but he was never able to make a breakthrough and establish a spot in the first team. He returned to reserve league action in 2013 before getting loaned out to Arizona United in the USL for most of the 2014 season, after which he was released by the club. Top then signed with Arizona United for the 2015 season before spending the 2016 season with Comunicaciones
Signed: February 18, 2011
The first homegrown goalkeeper signing in club history, Richard Sanchez never actually made a first-team appearance for FC Dallas after being signed ahead of the 2011 season at the age of 16.
After only making appearances in the MLS Reserve League in his first two seasons, the Mexican U17 and U20 international was sent on loan to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers for the second half of 2013. Mid-way through the 2014 season, Sanchez made a surprising move to Tigres UANL in Liga MX, where he also failed to make a first-team appearance. After finally being released during the 2017 season, Sanchez returned to MLS with the Chicago Fire, where he was finally able to make his first MLS appearance. Following the 2019 season, Sanchez was picked up by Sporting Kansas City where he currently serves as a backup to Tim Melia.
Signed: July 12, 2012
Signed mid-way through the 2012 season, Plano native Kellyn Acosta did not make his debut until the following season in 2013.
Acosta was really the first FC Dallas homegrown that did not have an extended period of time with the reserve team prior to making a mark on the first team. Initially brought into the team as a fullback in 2013 under Schellas Hyndman, Acosta’s role gradually shifted to central midfield under Oscar Pareja, and by 2015 he had fully broken into the first team, making over 20 appearances as a box to box midfielder. Acosta enjoyed a true breakout season in 2016, appearing in almost every game as FC Dallas lifted both the US Open Cup and Supporters’ Shield.
As transfer rumors exploded and Acosta made a push into the national team, he suffered some injuries and saw a reduced role in 2017. As he was working back to full fitness and a regular place in the team in 2018, he requested a trade and was granted it, moving over to the Colorado Rapids where he has been a consistent starter in midfield.
Signed: December 19, 2012
Signed ahead of the 2013 season, Mesquite native Bradlee Baladez only made a single 27-minute first-team appearance in his only season with the club and was released following the season.
Baladez is notable as the first homegrown signing who wasn’t directly out of the FC Dallas academy. Instead, after playing a key role in very successful academy sides in 2009 and 2010, Baladez went to college at the University of South Carolina from 2010 through 2012, before being signed by his hometown club. Following his release at the end of 2013, Baladez went on to play with Arizona United in 2014 and the Carolina RailHawks (now North Carolina FC) in 2015. He is currently playing with his true home town club, the Mesquite Outlaws, in the MASL.
What are your thoughts about the earliest homegrown signings in FC Dallas history?
Next week, we’ll take a look at the homegrowns signed from 2013 through 2016!
Featured Image: FC Dallas