Scouting the Academy – FC Dallas vs RGV

On Saturday, FC Dallas’ Academy played Rio Grand Valley. At 1 pm, the U17s and U15s played side by side, and at 3 pm, the U19s played. Those games in tight proximity gave me the chance to take in all three. Unfortunately, all three games were all kind of one-sided so it didn’t give me the pressure games I was hoping to scout.

There was a U16 game scheduled for 3 pm as well – FCD doesn’t have a U16 team but takes players who aren’t going to play on the day for U17s or U15s and puts together a U16 team- but it was canceled.

I’m going to put the lineups here. Not being an official scorekeeper I can sometimes make a mistake, so small grain of salt. This isn’t intended to be a game story. I’m just going to put a few thoughts, notes, and observations on each game.

I’m also not watching like a parent or coach, I’m attempting to think like a scout. Where is the player now but also where might they be in 5 to 10 years? Pathway to the pros is what I care about.

Let’s begin.

U15: FC Dallas 8 – RGV 0

Two lineups, first half on the left and then in the 55th minute (roughly) Coach Alex Aldez made four changes.

Notes, Thoughts, and Observations

– In the first half, I never got to see the keeper’s number but there are only 2 on the roster. I did see the 2nd half keeper’s number. Edit: I heard from someone who would know, it was Blake Wheeler in the first half.

– I again love Cayne Madhlangove at right back. The kid’s got what it takes for me. Always active, showing, getting forward, looking for gaps, and exploiting. Big upside.

– I believe this is my first viewing of Kaden King at left back. He joined FCD last year, I think, but he’s now being converted from attacker to left back. That’s a very FCD thing to do. I really like what I saw today, he’s going on my watch list. Plays with his head up and connects. Good first impression.

– U15s you can get some physical oddities. Bryce Outman is just above my waist in height and Lucas Cavalcante – who had a hat trick today – looks to be my height (6′) or more. It makes for a very weird physical imbalance.

– The aforementioned Bryce Outman, who joined from Solar, is quality on the ball. Another good first impression. Right now he is super tiny.

– Another terrific first impression – it was a day for it – by Juan Mancia. He joined from Dallas Rebels after they finished 2nd in the u14s at Dallas Cup last year. Super nifty player, creative attacker. Awesome hair.

Jayden Arboleda came off the bench today and again, for me, is the best player in this side. He changed the game, not that FCD wasn’t already dominating. He was playing as a false-9 in this one even though he’s usually, as far as I know anyway, a playmaking 10. He hit a banger of a free kick off the cross back and down from about 30 yards out that probably was a goal even though it was awarded to Neo Che with a goal-line head in.

Brice Miller, Michael Cortellessa, and Myles Nicholes – who are all on my watch list – were all good and didn’t really change my already strong opinion of them.

If that seems like a lot of positives to you, that’s probably because the scoreline was 8-0 and these kids haven’t hit the weed-out U17 stage yet.

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FC Dallas U15 Neo Che (23) stretches out for the ball in the MLS Next matchup against RGV FC, December 11, 2021. (Daniel McCullough, 3rd Degree)

U17: FC Dallas 8, RGV 0

Two lineups again, a first half (left) / second half (right) set up by Coach Matias Asorey.

Notes, Thoughts, and Observations

– The 17s dominated from the whistle, scoring 1-2 minutes in. I’m not sure if either FCD keeper touched the ball.

Nyrobi Vargas is on today, I believe he had a hat trick or more. I frankly lost count watching two games at once. His projection could be really interesting if he can perform at this level more frequently. He can for sure play but not always at the same level. One to watch for sure though.

Ale Urzua is one of my favorites in this group. Box-to-box mid with tons of talent. I really like his profile. He’s again terrific today.

Jared Salazar gets the whole game and, like always, pulls the strings. Wish he would work on that right foot some. The left foot is amazing, but 99% lefty is a bit much.

– My dude Nolan Norris captained the team playing left back and holding mid. First time I’ve seen him as a 6 and he was solid. If he ends up over 6 feet tall I think he’ll end up a center back. The soccer brain and left foot are sweet.

– My first viewing of Tate Jones who has joined FCD recently from Seattle. A righty but the left foot is pretty good. Good game reader and sound positionally. Above-average passer too. Really nice grade from me on first viewing.

– The “Toro” Brandon at right back experiment is interesting. Not sure what I think of that yet. He’s just not gonna be tall enough to be a pro center back I don’t think, so I applaud the attempt as he’s a really good player.

Malachi Molina and Kris Kelley were both as good as usual and remain high on my watch list.

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FC Dallas U17 Nolan Norris (32) gets on the end of a corner kick in the MLS Next matchup against RGV FC, December 11, 2021. (Daniel McCullough, 3rd Degree)

U19: FC Dallas 4 – RGV 1

Again the double lineups. First half left and the second half right with 4 changes at halftime and 3 more subs later in the game. Coached by John Gall.

Notes, Thoughts, and Observations

– I’ve mentioned many times how thin the U19s are this season with “in-year” players (2003s and 2004s). The 2003s are all either pros already or, mostly, off to college. Only 4 remain. And the 2004s are just thin, period, for some unknown reason. Only 7 made it this far. As a consequence, elevens 2005s are playing up and registered with the u19s as their primary team. (You can tell by their number, see bottom of this article.) That means most of the really interesting players here are 2005s and technically still eligible for U17s.

– As he always has been, Diego Hernandez (2005) is the best player in this team. Diego plays above this game in the way Thomas Roberts and Tanner Tessmann used to. He’s playing as a 6 on this occasion – although I tend to think of him as an 8 – and has two goals. One is a cracker of a free kick from a really obtuse angle and the other is from open play where he dribbled through multiple players are scored from the top of the box. He almost had a 3rd too. FCD, please sign this kid as a Homegrown this summer.

– I don’t love Nighte Pickering (2005) on the wing. He does a nice job with it, but the kid is a pure goal poacher and the best pure finisher in this side. Put him in the box. He’s also looking a lot more trim and fit, which is a positive body progression I think.

Tarik Scott (2005) is doing some good things. I’ve mentioned before that he’s always had the pieces just hadn’t started putting it together till this year. If his progression continues he could be something. He has a way to go but I like the signs.

– RGV’s goal came on a PK. Other than that and a couple of cover-ups, Antonio Carrera (2004) didn’t have a lot to do today.

Santiago Ferreira (2004) has come a long way since I last saw him. He’s much more engaged and active. He’s still not his brother, but he’s much more interesting these days. In my notes, I have him as Class of ’23, if that’s correct he’s got one more year than most of the 2004s. So he’s got time to develop still.

Pranav DuBroff (2005) at right back seems to be an experiment happening as well. Another career center back who may not end up with the physical profile. He’s a Wake Forrest commit I understand.

There were so many goals by FC Dallas this day that I honestly can’t even remember the 4th U19 goal. I have no idea who scored it. For all I know, Hernandez had a hat trick.

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FC Dallas U19 Nighte Pickering (11) dribbles up the left side in the MLS Next matchup against RGV FC, December 11, 2021. (Daniel McCullough, 3rd Degree)

Numbers Matter

With FCD, You can tell which team a player is primarily registered with by their numbers. The U19s are roster numbers 1 to 30. The U17s are 31 to 60. And the U15s are again 1 to 30… and so on and so forth. The reason FCD does this is that players can move back and forth between the neighbor group without needing a new jersey.

This is most notably in effect right now with the 2005s who bounce back and forth quite a bit.

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