FC Dallas has always prided itself in being the best academy in Major League Soccer, and have proved it time and time again with the number of homegrowns in the starting eleven.
With Luchi at the helm for the foreseeable future, it makes sense that this trend will continue, so I thought it would be cool to create next year’s all academy lineup.
The Last Set of Players Are the Forwards
Dante Sealy, Beni Redzic*
One of the best talents of his generation, Dante Sealy is simply waiting for his chance to become a starter. The 17-year-old has been a sensation at the youth level, being called up to the U20 level when he was only 16 years old. He has already played over a dozen professional matches for North Texas SC. And for the academy side, when he plays, he is always levels above every other player on the field.
With Santiago Mosquera under-performing, and Fafa Picault already inching closer to 30, it makes sense that Sealy will be given his chance to shine at some point this year.
For a while, Beni Redzic was one of the biggest talents in the academy setup. But after a disappointing year, one where he was expected to make his professional debut with North Texas SC but he didn’t, Redzic has the ability to pprove his doubters wrong. With no college commitment yet, and with an entire year before he graduates, Redzic has to step up and strut his stuff.
Ricardo Pepi, Ronaldo Damus, Reed Berry*
We all know who Ricardo Pepi is: 17 year old striker that is the second string forward behind Zdenek Ondrasek for FC Dallas (when Franco Jara comes to Frisco, Pepi is expected to become the third string forward). Pepi is the embodiment of the pathway for all FC Dallas Academy players. He started off at the regional academy in El Paso, but worked his way up the ladder to begin playing for the U17 in Frisco. After stellar years with U17s, he was signed to North Texas SC in 2018, but not even a year later, he was signed to a first team contract. Franco Jara is 31 and so is Cobra, so no one expects them to be at Toyota Stadium for a long time. Pepi has been groomed by the FC Dallas method for long stretches of his life, and there is no doubt that he is the future striker for this FC Dallas squad.
If it weren’t for squad congestion, Ronaldo Damus would have, in all likelihood, been signed to the first team. His first year as a professional soccer player was full of awards and recognition, including the 2019 USL League One Golden Boot and the the top spot on the USL’s 20 under 20, edging out players like Ricardo Pepi (see above). He was expected to be sold to another team this winter, but that never came to pass, and it seems like Damus’ current future is still with North Texas SC. We might see him get some training with the first team, and maybe even a short term loan to the first team, like Ricardo Pepi had last year, but it’s difficult to see where Ronaldo’s spot would be with FC Dallas.
The last one on the list is a player that many fans might not even know, which is acceptable considering he just popped onto the scene a couple of months ago. Reed Berry was a player in the FC Dallas system that never made it into the academy. However, after his first year at Oral Roberts University, he deserves some recognition. As a freshman, Berry was able to tally 11 goals and 5 assists in 16 games, which was the second highest tally of goals by a freshman. He won a bunch of accolades, but the most important aspect of his first exceptional year is that it put him on the map. Now everyone, including Luchi, will be keeping an eye on him.
Gibran Rayo, Daniel Evans*
The right winger spot is currently the weakest of the three attacking positions, but we still have a current professional that can play that role: Gibran Rayo. Rayo can play multiple positions, including right wing, but his versatility has allowed him to become an integral part of Eric Quill’s side. However, his versatility is often his weakness, as he has been unable to master the required abilities for one specific position on the field. He has been signed to a North Texas contract this year, which shows the organization’s commitment to Rayo. But he needs to lock in where he can excel position-wise.
The same can actually be said for Daniel Evans, an academy graduate who is currently at the University of Kentucky. He too has played multiple positions in the attack over the past couple years, but at Kentucky, he has seen his role shift from winger to forward. He was the understudy his freshman year to Atlanta United player JJ William, and when Williams left, he was given the responsibility his sophomore year to take up the mantle of the Generation Adidas player. he did pretty good, notching 7 goals, but he was able to fill the massive role that Williams had on the squad. Nevertheless, he is an attacking player with a starting role his sophomore year, so there is no doubt that the FC Dallas team is keeping an eye out for him.
That is the end of this little mini-series. what did you think of the entire list?
Featured Image: El Paso Times