Best XI | Academy Products

Ed Note: another post I originally wrote back in early 2019 but it already feels outdated. So I did a rework of it for the new site.

It seems like a good time, for no specific reason, to come up with an All-time FC Dallas Academy Product Best XI. The offseason is a time for bits and contemplative posts and this one seemed to fit right in with all the recent talk of North Texas SC, Homegrowns, and the SuperDraft.

The rules are simple, pick a Bext XI of players who have left the FC Dallas Academy. This list will include mostly professionals. Obviously, to me anyway, a pro player exceeds a college or armature player, and it’s my list.

For the professional players, I tried to strike a balance between actual pro performances and the level of the league & team at which the players perform. Talent and how good I think the player is, of course, is also a factor. I think most of the picks turned out to be easy choices.

Beyond each Best XI choice, I’ve put a shortlist of nominees. They are in no particular order.

Forward: Rogelio Funes Mori

This one’s not even close. And yes, the Funes Mori brothers played for the FCD Academy. It wasn’t very long but they were FCD Academy players. Rogelio has played 289 professional games at River Plate, Benfica, Eskişehirspor, and Monterrey with over 114 goals. (Depending on who’s counting, I went with Wikipedia for simplicity’s sake.) 1 senior cap with Argentina.

Ramiro and Rogelio Funes Mori with the FC Dallas Academy in 2008.

Nominees:

Funes Mori
Ruben Luna – Pro career with FC Dallas, Atlanta Silverbacks, Inter Playa, and RGV Toros.
Jesus Ferreira – Current FC Dallas Homegrown. Led FC Dallas in scoring in 2019 with 8 goals and 6 assists. Is he going to end up a 10?
Ricardo Pepi – Led USL-1 in scoring before being signed by FC Dallas as a Homegrown. Current US U17 striker.
Jonathan Top – Former FC Dallas Homegrown played with Arizona United and Comunicaciones in Guatemala. 1 senior cap with Guatemala.
Ronaldo Damus – USL-1 Leading socer in 2019 for North Texas SC. Haitian U20 and Senior National Teamer.

Left wing/mid: Alex Zendejas

Alex Zendejas shows some Texas pride. (FCD Communications)

Originally from El Paso (pre-move to Chivas) or Ciudad Juarez (post-move to Chivas), Zendejas was FC Dallas’ 13th Homegrown signing. Made 8 appearances with FCD over 2 seasons before being sold for $500,000 to Chivas. He has since made a few Chivas appearances but mostly played at Zacatepec on loan. In 2019 he’s back in the Chivas first team.

Nominees:

Arturo Rodriguez – Scored the 2017 Dallas Cup Super Group winning-goal against Monterrey. Arguably USL-1 MVP in his first season playing mostly as a left wing, but sometimes as a 10.
Shaft Brewer – Played for LAFC in 2019 (3 games) and has mostly been on loan with Arizona Rising.

Attacking mid: Emerson Hyndman

Hyndman has spent most of his professional career in the UK after leaving the FCD Academy for Fulham’s youth set up. Professional career at Fulham, Bournemouth, Rangers, and Hibernian making 54 appearances. Has 2 senior US caps. Signed with Atlanta United in 2019.

Nominees:

Hyndman
Thomas Roberts – Newest FC Dallas Homegrown played in 6 games in 2019. Helped North Texas SC win the 2019 USL-1 Championship.  
Bryan Leyva – 1st FC Dallas Homegrown player in club history. Made 9 appearances for FCD before being let go. May have caught on with Chivas in 2013-14 but didn’t play any games. Last seen playing NPSL.

Right wing/mid: Paxton Pomykal

His future is probably as an 8 or a 10, or even left wing, and I could have put him any another of those spots. Since Oscar Pareja mostly used him as a right wing, and since I had him there on the old version of this list, I’m leaving him here for now. Pomykal had a breakout season in 2019 and was named to the MLS All-Star team. US U20, U23, USMNT.

Paxton Pomykal takes part in the 2019 MLS All-Star game. (MLS Communications)

Nominees:

Coy Craft – 6 games for FC Dallas as a Homegrown. Last seen with Nyköpings BIS in Sweden after stints with OKC Energy (on loan) and Miami FC 2.
Brayan Padilla – Has emerged as a starter in his sophomore year at Maryland.

Linking Mid: Weston McKennie

“The one that got away.” Bundesliga, Champions League, and the USMNT. He’s played as a center back, holding mid, linking mid, and even an off-striker for Schalke 04. I’ve chosen to list him as a linking mid as that seems to be his most common, and perhaps purest, position.

Weston McKennie with the FC Dallas Academy. (FCD Communications)
Weston McKennie with the FC Dallas Academy. (FCD Communications)

Nominees:

Kellyn Acosta – Former FC Dallas Homegrown now with Colorado Rapids. 129 MLS games, 11 goals, and 15 assists mostly as a linking mid. He can also play holding mid, right wing, left back, and attacking mid. 23 senior US caps.
Chris Cappis – Blocked by MLS and the Houston Dynamo from signing with FC Dallas, he instead signed with Hobro IK in Denmark. Breaking out in 2019.
Brandon Servania – Current FC Dallas Homegrown became a starter as an 8 in 2019. Performed strongly as an 8 while on loan with Tulsa Roughnecks in 2018. PLays as a 6 or an 8 with the US U20s.

Holding mid: Victor Ulloa

170 MLS appearances and over 12,000 MLS minutes played gets Ulloa this spot. He’s moving on to Inter Miami for 2020. The quintessential stay at home holding mid with a keep it simple philosophy.

Victor Ulloa, Texan at heart. (FCD Communications)

Nominees:

Ulloa
Edwin Cerrillo – Still just 18 but has already made 11 starts for FC Dallas.

Left back: Moises Hernandez

During his first stint with FC Dallas started 33 games as a left back. Hernandez also played some left back for Guatemala (15 caps). Between his first stint for FCD and his second, he became a center back. Loan stints with Comunicaciones, Deportivo Saprissa, Rayo OKC, and San Antonio FC. Further professional run at Comunicaciones in 2017 and 2018 before returning to FC Dallas. Mostly he’s been on loan to San Antonio FC the last two seasons.

Moises Hernandez playing for San Antonio FC in 2019. (SAFC)

Nominees:

Hernandez
Aaron Guillen – 8 games played at left back over two seasons as a Homegrown for FC Dallas. Played at Tulsa Roughnecks on loan. He’s continued his pro career in USL with North Carolina FC.
Cole Guindon – A two-year starter at the University of Kentucky. Helped them make a deep run in the 2019 College Cup.
Eddie Munjoma – SMU senior left back or left mid. Part-time starter as fresh and soph, full-time starter as junior and senior.
Holland Rula – Part-time starter at left back for Wake Forest through his first two seasons.

Center back: Ramiro Funes Mori

Like his brother, he had a short stint at FC Dallas Academy before moving to River Plate’s youth team. Played 76 times for River, 55 times for Everton, and is now with Villarreal. 24 senior caps with Argentina.  He’s the first choice by a long shot.

Ramiro Funes Mori in MLS Sueno (left) and signing with Everton (right).

Center back: Chris Richards

Richards gets the other center back spot by virtue of playing at Bayern Munich. Originally on loan to play in their U19s, Richards saw time with the senior squad during their US tour, trained some with the Bayern senior team, played for the U23 team (Bayern Munich II), and played in the UEFA Youth League.

Chris Richards playing for the FC Dallas U19s in the 2018 Dallas Cup.
Chris Richards playing for the FC Dallas U19s in the 2018 Dallas Cup. (Collodi Photography / Dallas Cup)

Nominees:

Funes Mori
Richards
Brecc Evans – One season at Cal Poly before signing with North Texas SC. Captained NTXSC to the USL-1 Championship.
Moises Hernandez – The days he plays center back.
Brandon Terwege – Four-year college starter at UCLA and SMU.
Kris Reaves – Former FCD Homegrown, played 2 games. Now on the roster of Colorado Springs Switchbacks.

Right back: Reggie Cannon

One season in 2016 at UCLA after leaving the Academy. Current Homegrown with FC Dallas, after playing just 1 minute in 2017, started 33 games last season and is now a US senior international with 2 caps and a January camp invite.

FRISCO, TX – MARCH 23: FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon (#2) dribbles up field during the MLS game between FC Dallas and the Colorado Rapids on March 23, 2019, at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Matthew Visinsky, 3rd Degree)

Nominees:

Cannon
Bryan Reynolds – Current Homegrown. Signed at 15 as a right wing but was converted to right back last season. Current 2nd choice behind Cannon, Pareja said Reynolds was ready to start in late 2018.
London Woodbury – Signed as an FC Dallas Homegrown after playing at Maryland. Made 8 appearances for FCD in two seasons. Joined Arizona United after being waived by FC Dallas. Played 46 games for the New England Revolution after returning to MLS. Spent 2018 with Nashville SC and has signed with Austin Bold for 2019.
Shaq Moore – Left the FC Dallas Academy for a shot in Spain with Valencia but didn’t catch on. Played 82 professional games with Huracan, Oviedo B, Levante B, Levante, and now Reus (on loan). Has 5 senior caps with the US.

Goalkeeper: Jesse Gonzalez

67 MLS starts since becoming an FC Dallas Homegrown, but it’s Gonzalez pure shot-stopping ability that gives him the nod. Was a Mexican youth international, he’s chosen to play for the US at senior level but has yet to receive a cap.

Jesse Gonzalez of FC Dallas. (FCD Communications)

Nominees:

Gonzalez
Richard Sanchez – Won the 2011 U17 World Cup playing with Mexico. A former FC Dallas Homegrown (loan stint at Fort Lauderdale Strikers) who was sold to Tigres for a reported $1 mil. Did not play for Tigres but did have loans (back) to FC Dallas and Tampico Madero. Now back in MLS, he’s made 27 starts for the Chicago Fire.
Carlos Avilez – Signed by FC Dallas as a “USL affiliate” player, he’s was basically a practice player until North Texas SC game along. Frequent Mexico youth international.