Scouting the FCD Academy – vs Austin FC

With the FC Dallas first team out of the country, I took advantage of the gap to head up to Frisco to scout a couple of FC Dallas Academy teams against Austin FC.

Although I’m sure the kids and families will be upset about the results, I care little about the score in these games.

I’m really only interested in player progression. If it’s been a couple of months, half a year, or whatever, I want to see if they are improving toward a professional and potential homegrown standard. Pathway to the pros is our bag here at 3rd Degree.

So most of my comments are going to be about the players I feel are on the high end of performance and in my rankings… particularly ones who are continuing progression… or dropping off.

Let’s get to it.

A General Observation

Somewhat to my surprise both FCD sides played a double pivot, the 4-2-3-1, instead of the single pivot 4-3-3 the first team uses. Both FCD sides were a deep 6/8 combo with a higher 8 (or 10 if you prefer but I don’t these days) in front.

U17s – 1 PM

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Austin FC3

FC Dallas Lineup

FCD U17s vs Austin, February 5, 2023.
FCD U17s vs Austin, February 5, 2023.

In the 17s game, Austin FC was the better side. Quicker ball movement, sharper combos, more possession, and better chance creation. The advantage wasn’t big but it was there.

Although we don’t cover the Trees, I was impressed by Austin’s #18 (left wing), #15 (holding mid), and #30 (linking mid) – granted in this single viewing. Based on their rotations I have Austin as being in a 4-4-2.

FCD Subs

I do my best to get all the FCD subs, but I’m not a scorekeeper so I can sometimes miss one. No disrespect intended.

All in 2nd half:
#37 Axel Valdivia in for #15 Charles. Valdivia plays left wing and #46 Romero moves to central mid.
#17 Bryce Outman in for #46 Romeo.
#49 Henry Canizalez in for #2 Cortellessa, #47 Bazzell moves to right back. Canizalez, recently back from El Salvador camp, plays left back.

Buzz’s Player Comments

Alejandro Urzua (2006) was FCD’s best player for me, although he took a while to get into the game. Austin scored a PK to go up 1-0 about 30 minutes in and it was kind of like Ale thought, “oh crap I better play.” Once he woke up, he looked good, he seems to have progressed and built off the North Texas SC games and the first team camp invite. He’s near the top of my potential Homegrown list.

Caleb Swann (2007) was also excellent. I have felt for two seasons now that Swann is the best 07 in DFW. Yes, even while he was at Solar SC (he came to FCD this season). Bryce Outman and Michael Cortelessa are also excellent and part of the US YNT pool, but it’s Swann for me. Swann was his usual tenacious self, he’s a good defender and is much more of an 8 profile than 10.

Speaking of Michael Cortellessa (2007), I have yet to figure out by watching if he’s right or left footed. Don’t tell me if you know, I’m trying to see if I can sus it out. So far, I can’t. Today he’s at right back, perhaps to try and mark the Austin left wing who I really thought was impressive. That was a fun battle all day.

Jared Salazar (2006) has got a lot of skill but like most pure 10s at FCD he playing on the wing these days. So far that’s not working for me. I’m not seeing enough game impact out there. Although he was the most dangerous in the FCD attacking line.

Ian Charles (2007) is a holding mid playing up with the 17s today. (Prior to this year, a 16 with the 17s wasn’t considered “up” as they were combined into one group.) Anyway, Charles is new to FCD this year from Arlington SA (Virginia, not Texas) and this is my first viewing of him. I like all the raw tools I am seeing but he was a bit out of his depth today and was mostly reactive rather than proactive. I look forward to my next viewing though. He’s a Puerto Rico U17.

FCD Players missing: Malachi Molina (Jamaica), Julian Eyestone (USA), and Nayrobi Vargas (Honduras). Austin is missing their striker Micah Burton who is with the US U17s as well.

U15s – 3 PM

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Austin FC3

FC Dallas Lineup

FCD U15s vs Austin, February 5, 2023.
FCD U15s vs Austin, February 5, 2023.

Unlike the 17s, the 15s for the most part had more of the game and ball but, again, the difference wasn’t profound. After going up 2-0 (the most dangerous lead in soccer!), FCD seemed to relax a little… which is never good. Austin got one back in the first half and kept countering against the run of play in the 2nd and grabbed two more to win.

U15 is always such a funny age, you get these weird combos of kids who had big growth spurts up to nearly 6 feet tall playing against kids who are still 5 feet or less.

I liked Austin’s #44 in this one. He really put in a shift today.

FC Dallas Subs

Halftime: #50 Eunho Lee came on at left wing and caused a couple of shifts. #37 Saucedo to attacking mid, #33 Vo went to left back, with #32 Rojas coming off. There was also a GK change to #30 Josue Fuentes.

#49 Bruno Luna, new to FCD Acad this year, came on at left back causing another round of shifts. #35 Alvarez subbed off. #34 Rodriguez went to right back and #33 Vo moved back to midfield.

Buzz’s Player Comments

There’s greater movement in my scouting lists in this team, U15 is a volatile age.

Like all the FCD playmaking 10s in the Academy, there’s currently an experiment of playing Andre Saucedo (2008) at wing happening. He’s not nearly as impactful there but I understand why. Second half he shifts back to his natural attacking-mid spot. The kid has talent but like Thomas Roberts, Anthony Ramirez, and Jared Salazar before him, I wonder where Saucedo’s going to fit long-term.

I do have a player from this game taking a leap up my chart: Erik Rosales (2008). He’s small but plays a mean false-9. His movement and energy are fantastic. He’s got skill too. All this in a kid I believe came up last year from FCD Youth Central Medina (which isn’t even FCD Premier ECNL). I’ll be keeping an eye on Rosales, this is the second time he’s caught my attention.

Another fascinating development is the shift of Zach Molomo (2008) from high striker to center back (and jersey 9 to 6). He’s the next player in the FCD attacker-to-defender conversion conveyer belt. He’s a super raw defender, but I get it. I’m excited about where this could end up.

A player I really like in this group is Matthew Razo (2008). His work rate, range, and mentality are enormous. He’s trying to do too much today and burns out at about 75-80 minutes. I think he’s best as a pure 6 when he’s more tactically defensively disciplined. That’s where I think his big upside lies rather than as an 8 like he is today.

Nice to see the exact progression I hoped for from Tadesse Hart (2008) is on track. He’s turning into a dynamic winger who puts defenses under stress. Good player, I like him. He scored the opening goal.

Gabriel Rojas (2008), a player I quite liked in the midfield and as a center back last year, is playing left back today. Obviously a skilled player but maybe he’s being moved around too much? The same might be said for Gavin Vo (2008), Kevin Rodriguez (2008), and Gio Alvarez (2008) all of whom, along with Rojas, I feel like I’ve seen in 3+ positions over the last two seasons.

That’s about all I have for today.


  1. Much appreciated as always, Buzz. It’s good to hear that there are some guys who look to be making big strides in their development.

    Interesting to hear your comment on all the playmaking 10s, since that’s not really the style the senior team seems to be rolling with these days. I wonder if that will result in a bit more tinkering when it comes to guys in that mold further down the academy pyramid.

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