For the weekend of November 16-17, 2019.
With FC Dallas on winter hiatus, I headed up to Frisco on Sunday to get a soccer fix by watching the FCD U19s face Atlanta United. The 19s played a game Saturday as well, a 1-0 win over North Carolina FC (goal by Erik Centeno), and are pretty banged up. So I got to see some players I hadn’t seen much of before.
FC Dallas U19s 2, Atlanta United 1
FC Dallas rolled out a 4-3-3 and Atlanta United a somewhat rarer single-pivot 3-5-2. The Atlanta shape caused FCD to put a different tactical twist on their play, more on that in a minute.
Between call ups (Jonathan Gomez and Seth Wilson) and injuries, the U19s are really depleted and had to use multiple DP players. Missing for FCD are Cesar Garcia, Diego Letayf, Diego Maynez, David Rodriguez (not with the U19s very often), Zach Schawl, Michael Sosa, Nathan Toledo, and Malik Henry-Scott.
Side note: an Academy DP isn’t the same as an MLS DP, of course, although I think it’s the same name – Designated Player. In the Academy, a DP is a player that plays for both the Academy and for Premier. FCD doesn’t want any kids not playing so if they are needed with the Academy they come up, if not they play with Premier.
Goalkeeper Marcos Cortez is actually a U17, but not an Academy U17. While he’s listed on the U17 Academy roster, he’s a DP and mostly plays for 03 Premier. He made several solid saves on the day. Credit to him for playing with confidence and showing well while not only playing up in age but in level. Well done, young man.
The interesting tactical twist was the deployment of Rafael Corral as a very deep holding mid in a role we used to call a stopper back in the day, sitting just in front of the center backs. Since Atlanta had two strikers that both checked back frequently, Nico Carrera and Tanner Tessmann would track tight to both and Corral would rotate back into the vacated center spot. It was very fluid and interesting, for me at least, to watch.
I had to chuckle when Tessmann lined up at center back. Not that the FCD staff would read my stuff or anything, but since I suggested Tessmann be tried at center back I got quite excited to see it. It turns out Tessman played CB the day before and in this game just because of injuries. And he did it without training at all in that spot, I heard afterward.
Tessmann did well, it looked exactly like I expected. Good positioning, game reading ahead of the action, good in the air, and solid defending. The real highlight was his passing out of the back with multiple 50-yard plus bombs, that’s what would make him really special for a center back (just like Chris Richards). If he were to play CB long-term he would need to work on his pure defensive skills, tackling, etc.
Tessmann and Carrera shut Atlanta down for the most part in the run of play, the only danger spots came on set plays where the massive Atlanta center backs came up and added to the already tall strikers. United scored their goal off a set play and hit the post a 2nd time.
The most dangerous FCD attacker of the was Beni Redzic, who looked more tuned in and dangerous than I’ve seen him in some time. Boost of confidence and focus after his Bosnia and Herzegovina call up perhaps? Redzic’s good play aside, the game turned for FCD’s favor when Beni subbed out in the 58th minute and that’s not a slight on Redzic.
Redzic plays wing in a false-wing style, cutting inside, dribbling at players, trying to shoot or combine/create with a pass. Edward Knight III, another DP player, came in for Redzic. Knight is a more traditional winger, direct with a burst and some pace. He pushes wide and high and tries to get behind the defense or split the gap.
The contrast from Redzic was remarkable and caught Atlanta off guard, think of Michael Barrios vs Pablo Aranguiz. United had trouble adjusting to Knight and he gave the right back fits. The first FCD goal came through Knight on the wing, his cross finding Andres Dicun at the top of the box for the goal.
FCD’s second goal came from an over the top, led pass by Kevin “Bunny” Bonilla. The ball eventually popped out to Zaki Obafemi-Carpenter, yet another DP player, who finishes a lovely long-range shot to the far post for the game-winner.
So at least 3 DPs played a big part in this U19 Academy win. That’s a credit to them, the coaches, and the organization.
PS I don’t have a list of the DPs, some of them I know of because someone tells me, others I make assumptions about. I know, don’t assume.
The U19 game is the only one I watched, but let’s dig into the other results to see if we can find anything interesting.
FC Dallas U17s Boys
The 17s also had a Saturday/Sunday game combo against North Carolina FC and Atlanta United. The FCD U17s won both games 3-2. That’s good progress, you may recall this side had some big turnover this year and was a large work in progress to start the season. They are undefeated in their last four with three wins and a tie.
The mythical unicorn Justin Che is back healthy and leading the backline, I’m sure that helps. Santiago Ferreira and Ty Reynolds, younger ’04s, started both games so perhaps some progress from them.
Against North Carolina, Philip Akem – who if you haven’t seen him looks like a NFL linebacker – Jose Gutierrez, and Colin Smith scored. Then against Atlanta United, Akem grabbed two more and Che notched the game-winner in the 90th minute.
It seems the Gutierrez, Akem, and Smith have become the go-to front line. Antonio Carrera and Will Watson continue to split time in net.
FC Dallas U15s Boys
Continuing the NCFC/ATL UTD doubles headers, the U15s won 4-0 on Saturday and 6-1 on Sunday. On the year, they’ve outscored opponents 39 to 8. They have one loss on the year, their 2nd game of the season at Inter Miami. The goal against Atlanta United is the first goal they’ve allowed since September against Orlando City. This team, honestly.
Adrian Anguiano and Pranav DuBroff remain the ubiquitous center backs with my man Nolan Norris at left back. There’s so much talent in midfield and upfront you see a lot of rotations with this team. U14 Matthew Corcoran continues to play up with the 15s quite a bit as a holding mid, as he does in both these games.
Against North Carolina: Nighte Pickering had a brace (U15 leading scorer with 9), Kevin Kelley (new to FCD this year) added a goal, as did Tarik Scott (younger brother of U19 Henry-Scott).
Atlanta United was a goal-fest: Anthony Ramirez – usually more of a dribbler/facilitator – had a hat trick, Diego Hernandez, Scott, and Corcoran all added goals.
FC Dallas U14s and U13s Boys
Both sides had the weekend off with no games.
FC Dallas U19 Girls
Big win on the ladies’ side for the U19s knocking off Lonestar SC 2-1 on the road. Vivyan Gonzalez and Erin Mitchell had the goals. The win keeps FCD in 3rd place in their division.
FC Dallas U17 Girls
Unlike the boy’s side, for the girls, U16 and U17 remain split teams.
The U17s fell to Lonestar SC 2-0, only their 2nd loss of the year. They were the only FCD girls team to lose on the day. They remain in 2nd place behind the insanely loaded Solar U17s who are undefeated with a +38 goal differential through seven games.
FC Dallas U16 Girls
The U16s flipped the 2-0 scoreline, winning on goals by Amelie Faa and Sisley Stephens. They too are in 2nd place, although behind Real Colorado. Solar are just 3 points back.
FC Dallas U15 Girls
The U15s continue the positive road results at Lonestar, also winning 2-0. Madison Stormberg and Jaden Thomas scored. They each have 11 goals on the season for the 1st place U15s.
FC Dallas U14 Girls
Alexa Barker, Zeta McDannels, and Jada Reyes net for FCD in the 3-0 win. That’s a good rebound win after they picked up their first loss of the year at OKC Energy the previous weekend.
FC Dallas U13 Girls
At Lonestar, the youngest FCD side had the biggest win of the day, 5-1, to remain undefeated. Lillian Beckham and Isabelle Traub both had braces. Nylah Norris (Nolan’s sister?) added the 5th.