I last did an Academy Hot List back in February, so with the end of the Dallas Cup and GA Cup, the time seems right for an April version.
Reminder… this is a HOT LIST.
It’s not a prospect ranking or a list of suggested Homegrowns signings.
It’s a list of hot names. Recent achievers, players who stood out the last month or two, kids of recent hype, players with new chatter, or guys I see that get me hyped or make me change my thinking on them.
There’s a heavy Dallas Cup and GA Cup influence to this one.
On with the list.
The April 2022 FCD Academy Hot List
1. Santiago Ferreira – U19 Central Mid (2004)
Ferreira is technically a U19 but he’s no longer with that side. He’s spent the entire spring playing with North Texas SC and has started all four of their games as one of the two linking 8s in the club’s 4-3-3 (they replicate the first team shape and tactics). Ferreira fills the right side 8 in the Brandon Servania roll.
The 17-year-old Ferreira has been steady in midfield, connecting play with an 80.6% passing rate. Hopefully, more game impact with some key passes (he has 1) and some assists or goals will come as the next phase of his development.
2. Tarik Scott – U17 Forward (2005)
Even though he’s a U17 by age, Scott spent the Dallas Cup with the U19s (as he has all most of the season). The 19s collectively put in some really strong performances despite their record and Scott looked to be the most consistently dangerous threat.
But the main reason Scott is high on this list is that he came off the bench in the North Texas SC season opener and scored two goals to get the team the 3-1 win. Scott is one of four Academy players to have played for NTXSC with 2 appearances.
3. Malachi Molina – U17 Winger/Back (2006)
Molina has been on my HG watch list for quite a long time but jumps onto the Hot List for getting an invite to a first-team inter-squad scrimmage. Molina started the 60-minutes game at right back and played at a nice level.
While the body language understandably showed some nerves, his play did not. It was a solid performance from the kid, one in which he didn’t shrink from the challenge. It certainly impressed me and I would imagine it impressed the coaches.
4. Slade Starnes – U19 Center Back (2003)
Slade is a great example of a late-blooming Academy player. The story told to me is of his rejection from the Academy teams multiple times but continued perseverance. As he continued to grow and improve he finally got into the Academy and has only continued to rise. He’s now a dominant center back for the 19s and has been involved in first-team training.
He’s headed to Furman this fall and if his path continues to rise as it has he might not play there all four years.
5. Will Baker – U19 Center Back (2004)
Another U19 center back and example of a later blooming player. Baker has come on in an even shorter time frame than Starnes as being the much rarer lefty center back gives him a jump in value. Baker has been training quite a bit with North Texas SC and has subbed into two games now for the FCD pro-development team.
Although a 2004, my information is Baker will graduate this May. He’s also in the Furman class for this fall.
6. Nolan Norris – U17 Left Back (2005)
The U17s captain, Norris spent all of the GA Cup with them. But it’s not for the GA Cup that he makes the Hot List but rather his NTX debut playing 74 minutes against San Jose Earthquakes II this last weekend. Norris has been a big part of their camp and made the bench a few times without getting PT. He’s another Furman commit.
7. Jared Aguilar – U17 Holding Mid (2005)
It’s funny how the world works… When Matthew Corcoran was here in Dallas, it was often Jared Aguilar who was the odd man out when Corcoran would come up to the higher age level (at least when I watched them play). Since Corcoran left, Aguilar has blossomed into a terrific space-eating 6.
While Aguilar’s nominally a U17, he’s spent a ton of time with North Texas SC in camp. He hasn’t made his MLS Next Pro debut yet, but I’ve had multiple people in the organization mention him to me in the last two months. In short, it seems the club loves him and he’s making waves.
8. Antony Ramirez – U17 Wing, 8, or Attacking Mid (2005)
Ramirez is another Academy player heavily involved with North Texas SC. While he hasn’t made his debut yet either, he did play in the preseason scrimmages. He also continues to be called in by Mexico.
Ramirez played for the FCD 17s in the GA Cup. People who watch more Academy games than me said he’s been just tearing it up of late. Perhaps the heavy NTX training has pushed his game up? He’s still at the top of my list of players I want to see signed to a Homegrown deal.
9. Andre Saucedo – U14 Attacking Mid (2008)
A player who makes the Hot List because I find it such a joy to watch him play. His soccer IQ is really high and his touch is phenomenal. Will he be a pro someday? I have no clue, he’s just 13.
Without the ball he glides into great positions for his team, on the ball he dribbles multiple players and makes splitting passes, and on defense, he’s like a terrier trying to counter-press. Kid’s a pure baller and I love it. 10/10 would watch again any time.
10. Aaron Salinas – U17 Goalkeeper (2005)
A U17 by age but primarily rostered with the U19s, Salinas is overshadowed by Antonio Carrera (2004) above him and Julian Eyestone (2006) below. Now that Carrera is signed to a pro contract (and out of the way), the 19s are basically Salinas although with Eyestone injured Salina played for the 17s in the GA Cup.
Yet, just playing in the GA Cup doesn’t get him into the Hot List. It’s the first-team training invite that gets him in. Salinas was in FCD camp for close to two weeks prior to the Cups. Being able to hack first-team training and stay for over a week is impressive.
Salinas is the keeper in this U17 team pic, obviously.