Who’s Who in the 2020-21 FC Dallas Academy

The new MLS Academy League is going to be starting up sometime in August. That’s only a month away so it’s time to talk Academy sides.  There’s not much info yet about the new league or even the FCD teams but we do know Los Toritos will be playing in the ENCL as well as the new Academy.

Jordan Jones battles against Bayern Munich in the 2019 Bayern adidas Campus Cup. Nolan Norris (c) lurks in the background. (Courtesy Bayern Munich)

My lists of players for the Academy sides are based off of last year’s teams. 

FCD likes to reload every year so there will end up being new players we get the pleasure of seeing for the first time this 2020-21 season. Particularly with this being a new MLS Academy League we might see some big team shuffling, for all we know.

And of course, I rarely hear of departures and arrivals before I see the teams play. If I have any info I will put it in below.

On with the show!

Players Moving on from the Academy

Players who went pro: Tanner Tessmann (FC Dallas), Girban Rayo (NTXSC), Jonathan Gomez (Louisville City), and Michael Sosa (signed with an agent).

Players lost to other youth clubs: Diego Lateyf (Tigres).

Players lost to graduation: Andres Dicun (unknown), Luiz Cruz (Unknown), Kevin Bonilla (Portland), Malik Henry-Scott (Tulsa), Cristian Escribano (Wake Forest), Camilo Estrada (Northern Illinois), Cesar Reyes Garcia (SMU), Diego Maynez (Northern Illinois), Ayden Nocus (Louisville), Nico Carrera (Louisville), Erik Centeno (Unknown), Seth Wilson (Clemson), Zachary Schawl (Central Arkansas), Edward Knight III (Northern Illinois), Zaki Obafemi-Carpenter (Unknown), Rafael Pinzon Corral (Unknown), and Lucas Mazieres (Unknown).

Throughout this post, I’ll list the Top Drawer Soccer class rank – through the class of 2024 (no 2025 ranks yet) – next to each player’s name.

FC Dallas U19s – Coach John Gall

Graduation hit the U19s hard. Unless some of the players above take a gap year – putting off college – FCD will be returning only two 2002s from last season’s U19s and one of those is a part-timer.  So this U19 team is going to be fairly young. 

And let’s be fair, the U17s weren’t great in 2019-20.  The 2003s were a top-heavy age group and are now thin because of the pros that have been signed or lost to other programs.  The ’03’s now have to carry the load at the U19 level. It may be difficult going for them.

As mentioned, FC Dallas often reloads each year, so don’t be shocked to see a handful of new players join this team for a final year of their Academy career.

FC Dallas and North Texas players still technically eligible for U19s: Ricardo Pepi, Dante Sealy, and David Rodriguez. (It’s doubtful you will see these guys come down for anything but maybe Dallas Cup.)

Returning U19s: Beni Redzic and Emiliano Hernandez.

Coming up from the U17s: Justin Che, Philip Akem, Reece Fragle, Josh Milla, Eduardo Ruiz, Collin Smith, Joel Hernandez, Will Watson, Slade Starnes, Luis Medina, Alex Alvarado, Alcibiades Duran Jr, Amjot Narang, and Marcos Cortez.

Key 2002s – Returning U19 Players

Beni Redzic (53rd, 2021) – Winger. Entering his third season as a U19 (he played up with the 19s back in 2018-19), Redzic should be the 19s best player and key figure.  Former US Youth International, current Bosnia and Herzegovina Youth International.  

Beni Redzic faces Texans SC (Houston) in 2019. (Courtesy Collodi Photography)

Key 2003s – New U19 Players

Collin Smith (61, 2021) – Captain of the U17s last season. A fast striker with 9 goals last year in 16 starts.  When I’ve seen him play he’s a little one dimensional for my taste, but time in the FCD system may change that.  Can his potential be tapped?  

Justin Che heading to North Texas Soccer Club training, June 5th, 2020. (Courtesy @angelina_che123)

Justin Che (NR, 2022) – Center Back. Che is already turning heads and has been training with North Texas SC this summer.  He’s a US Youth International with a big future. I would expect him to play with North Texas SC more than the U19s. Potentially the next FCD Homegrown in two’ish seasons. Would he take an NTX contract sooner?

Philip Akem (NR, 2021) – One of the most massive U17s I’ve ever seen, listed at 6’1” 185 last year. He looks like an NFL strong safety.  A forward/wing, he started showing a nose for goal last season with 6 goals in 17 games/13 starts.  

Will Watson (NR, 2021) – One of two keepers who got playing time with the U17s last season…  So he’ll get at least a share of the starts at U19, maybe even all of them.

Luis Medina (NR, 2021) – One of the better midfielders left in the FCD 2003 class.

Given how thin this U19 team is, don’t be surprised if a fair number of the U17s – particularly the 2004s – play up with the 19s.  Or, as mentioned, a number of outsiders come in for a year or two with the 19s.

2019-20 FC Dallas U17s. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

FC Dallas U17s – Coach Matias Asorey

The U17s are absolutely loaded.  The 2005s are one of the best age groups I’ve ever seen and there is some talent lurking in the 2004s still.  Honestly, this team is nuts.  Between the 2004s and 2005s I’ve tagged 20 players I think might have enough potential to make my future pro watch list.  That’s WAY to many.

BUT this is the first age group with two years combined, so the 17s is usually where a fair number of players get shifted to other teams, and the ranks thin a bit.  Look at all these names, it’s time for a culling.

This 17s team will be young too, facing a lot of teams made up mostly of quality, older 2003s.  As an organization, you want to play good teams and face a challenge. That’s how you improve.

But you better believe the pressure of increased competition against older players will thin out my potential-pro list big time. By this time next year my list will be much shorter.

Potential Returning U17s: Gonzalo Agustoni-Chagas, Antonio Carrera, Cesar “Danny” Elizalde, Santiago Ferreira, Diego Gamez, Micah Kelley, Ty Reynolds, Ivan Villatoro, Jose Gutierrez , Jonathan Dadzie, Alejandroo Gomez, and William Baker.

Left for another Academy: George Medill (Sporting KC)

Potentially Coming up from the U15s: Adrian Anguiano, Carlos Sanchez, Christopher Sanchez, Jared Aguilar, Salim Chavez, Pranav DuBroff, Alejandro Estrada, Cristian Gallo, Victor Gomez, Diego Hernandez, Jordan Jones, Jay Molina, Nolan Norris, Nighte Pickering, Emanuel Radilla, Anthony Ramirez, Aaron Salinas, Tarik Scott, Lucas Siikala, Kevin Kelley, Duncan Sullivan, Mason Grimm, and Matthew Corcoran.

Update: To try and be even more clear, this is way too may kids for one U17 Academy team. It’s going to get paired down. That process will be interesting, to me at least if not anyone else.

Key 2004s – Returning U17s

Cesar “Danny” Elizalde. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Cesar “Danny” Elizalde (23rd, 2022) – Midfield. From El Paso. A game controlling player in the middle. I had heard he was headed to Pachuca last year and that FCD had lost him… Then 2 games before the shutdown he showed back up on the Academy roster. I’m told he had been injured and didn’t leave. So this is a big win to keep him.  US Youth International.  

Antonio Carrera (26th, 2022) – Goalkeeper.  6’3” at 16. Tremendous talent, almost certainly a pro someday, it will just be a question of when IMO.  He’s training with North Texas SC some this summer. Expect him to split time with NTX, U19s, and U17s in 2020-21.

Santiago Ferreira (45th, 2023) – Midfield. Yes, there’s another one.  Started out 2019-20 on the bench as one of the younger players but as time went on he became more important.   He ended up starting 11 of the 16 games he played.  Can he keep his spot with the talent coming up?  He might be a great candidate to start full time for the U19s instead.  Pressure, diamonds, something, something.

Ty Reynolds (50th, 2022) – Right mid or fullback.  Runs the wide line as a mid or fullback just like his brother. Has the advantage of making the conversion to right back at a younger age than Bryan.  Closing in on a Georgetown commitment (Yes, already).

Jose Gutierrez (NR, 2023) – Forward/wing.  Recruited from Dallas Texans last season and started 15 of 16 games.  Only 2 goals but he was one of the most consistent U17s for me.  I worry about his PT with the ‘05s coming up.

Key 2005s – New U17s

Ok, I warn you now. This is where my list gets stupid long.  I’ve got 15 players in the 2005s on my watch list heading into this pivotal U17 year. It will shrink for sure under the pressure.

Matthew Corcoran (3rd, 2024) – Holding mid. He’s actually a 2006 and has quite frequently played up with this group for two seasons now.  He’s an amazing player, quality defender, fantastic passer, smooth on the ball, and reads the game at a very high level.  TDS #2 midfielder in the nation and #1 player in Texas in the class of 2024.

Matthew Corcoran and Gabriel “Toro” Brandon. (Courtey Gabriel Brandon)

Jordan Jones (12th, 2023) – Linking mid. Box to box player, he’s already been in US U17 camp and is a former US U15 too. Serious range and quality.  TDS #1 player in Texas in the class of 2023. (He’s in the pic at the top of this post.)

Pranav DuBroff (21st, 2023) – Center back. One of two strong center backs with this group. He’s a US U15 call up.  Got the most starts of any player in the U15s last year. Key leader.

Nolan Norris (38th, 2023) – Left back. Love this player, so smooth and an amazing game reader. Does the unexpected. Big future for me. US U15 call up.

Mason Grimm (42nd, 2024) – Midfield. Joining FCD this season from Solar so I’ve yet to see him play. I don’t know much about him yet.

Kevin Kelley (43rd, 2023) – Forward/wing. He and his brother Kristian (U15) are both terrific, exciting, attacking players who were previously at Sevilla FC, PSG, and Barcelona.

Kevin Kelley takes on Atlanta United. (Courtesy Kevin Kelley)

Diego Hernandez (44th, 2023) – Attacking mid. Dangerous. 5 goals in 12 games.  US U15 call up. He’s really impressed me already.

Anthony Ramirez (48th, 2023) – Attacking mid or wing. Probably the best ball handler and dribbler in the team. 5 goals in 12 games. US U15 call up.  Lots of upside to be tapped here. Trained with NTXSC this summer.

Victor Gomez (47th, 2023) and Aaron Salinas (55th, 2023) – Goalkeepers. Both are US U15 callups. Both play with Salinas getting a few more games last year. Gomez is more athletic, Salinas is technical.  As always with young keepers, growth (height) is a big factor in their potential and, unfortunately, neither is tall.

Nighte Pickering (75th, 2023) – Forward/wing. U15s leading scorer. Can he continue to produce?  He’s also ranked much lower than I expected.

Adrian Anguiano (116, 2023) – Center back. The other solid CB in this side, although Adrian doesn’t seem to get US calls ups he still looks good in games I’ve seen him play.

Christopher Sanchez (NR, 2023) – Forward. Dangerous, creative, a hot and cold player. Can be hot-headed.  Won the “Best Player” award at the Bayern Munich Tournament last year.

Tarik Scott (NR, 2023) – Forward.  2nd leading scorer with 7 goals last year in 11 games but only 5 starts. There’s so much talent in this team he’s getting crowded out. The younger brother of just graduated former U19 Malik Henry-Scott.

Cristian Gallo (NR, 2024) – Forward. Doesn’t always start but has caught my eye a few times.  Enough to put him on my watch list anyway.

Jared Aguilar (NR, 2023) – Midfield. Like Gallo, not always in the team (have I said it’s loaded?) but still has had moments for me to put him on my watch list.

See? Loaded.

FC Dallas U15s lift the Championship trophy of the 2019 FC Bayern adidas Campus Cup, August 18, 2019. (Bayern Munich Campus)

FC Dallas U15s – Coach Alex Aldaz

This is the group that I was really looking forward to seeing in the Dallas Cup 2020.  In recent years the Super-14s is the first time I go watch a FCD U14 class.  The Cup got Covid-canceled so I haven’t sat and watched this team yet. I can’t wait to do so.

But this means my list for this age group (and those on down) is based on what I hear. People (Coaches, players, etc.) tell me names to watch for.  Youth national team call ups are a good indicator. It’s a combination of info. 

Word is that, overall, these 2006s are just about as good as the 2005s.  Which is saying something, as the 2005s are ridiculous.

Potentially Coming up from the U14s: Brian Avila, Aiden Bazzell, Gabrial Brandon, Henry Canizalez, Mariano Carmona, Matthew Corcoran, Fabian Enriquez, Julian Eyestone, Owen Gall, Kristian Kelley, Tyler Kiernicki, Sebastian Lutin, Jack Minsky, Malachi Molina, Mikey Murphy, Isaac Nascimento, Miguel Padilla, Isaac Romero, Jared Salazar, Juan Pablo Torres, Alejandro Urzua, Nayrobi Vargas Valerio, Salim Chavez, Jay Molina.

Key 2006s – New U15s

Malachi Molina (2025) – Forward. The standout so far for me. A game-changer. 13 goals in 15 games last season. The limited times I have caught a glimpse I’ve said, “wow.”  US U14 ID Camp call up.

Gabriel “Toro” Brandon (8th, 2024) – Center back. Dominant defender, big leader. US U14 ID Camp call up. TDS #1 defender in the class of 2024. He’s in the pic with Corcoran up above.

Julian Eyestone.

Julian Eyestone (11th, 2024) – Goalkeeper. 6’3” at age 13 (no, that’s not a typo).  Will he stay coordinated with the height?  So far the signs are good. Big upside here. US U14 ID Camp call up. TDS #1 keeper in the class of 2024.

Kristian Kelley (17th, 2024) – See the bio on his brother above. Same kind of special player. 15 goals in 16 games. US U14 ID Camp call up.

Henry Canizalez (22nd, 2024) – Left back. US U14 ID Camp call up.  What is it with FC Dallas and left backs?

Nayrobi Vargas Valerio (30th, 2024). Forward. US U14 ID Camp call up.

Alejandro Urzua (51st, 2024) – Midfield. US U14 ID Camp call up.

Jared Salazar (NR, 2024) – Attacking mid. Playmaker, creator.  9 goals in 16 games… but no call ups. Formally of Solar, joined FCD in 2019.

Jack Minsky (2025) – Midfield/forward. US U14 ID Camp call up.

FC Dallas U14s – Coach Scott James

These kids are a long way from being pros… but then again, you do see 15-year-olds getting signed. So maybe not that far.  I have a few names I’ve heard.

Potentially coming up from U14s: Sean Albritton, Andy Alvarenga, Jeyden Arboleda, Blake Bayless, Christian Bazaldua, Lucas Cavalcante, Neo Che, George Eddy, Saul Guzman, Juan Pablo Lara, Angel Lopez, Erick Lucas, Marlon Luccin, Cayne Madhlangove, Jonathan Martinez, Jaxon Meese, Brice Miller, Zachary Molomo, Myles Nicholes, Rolando Placencia, Vincent Rinaldi, Joshua Torquato, Blake Wheeler, and Antonio Zertuche.

Key 2005s – New U14s

Brice Miller (2025) – Forward.  20 goals in 15 games last season. That will get anyone’s attention.  Joined FCD from Solar last year.

Jeyden Arboleda (2025) – Midfielder. 11 goals in 18 games. Previously with Houston Dynamo and Texas SC (Thanks Eric Quill?).

Marlon Luccin (2026) – Peter Luccin’s son.

Neo Che (2025) Younger brother of Justin Che.

Until there’s a new website I won’t have any names for the lower levels…

FC Dallas U13s. – Coach Adam Wells

FC Dallas U12 North – Coaches Phil Gomez and Toto Schmugge

FC Dallas U12 South – Coaches Tony Falcon and Clem Oancea

Know of any player coming and goings I missed?  Shoot me a DM on twitter @3rdDegreeNet.

6 Comments

  1. Those ’05s and ’06s are so ridiculous. Seems like every time I watch them someone new flashes. I wonder if they’re going to pull an Atlanta United and start fielding two different U17 Academy teams soon.

    The one player I think you could have added to the key players lists would be Jonathan Dadzie, a CB in the ’04 pool. He came over from Sacramento last year and plays a lot like Justin Che played two years ago.

    1. It might be worth fielding two teams. Or the ECNL team is going to be stacked. lol.
      I’ve seen Jonathan Dadzie once, IIRC. He didn’t wow me. But admittedly that was just one viewing.

  2. Anthony Ramirez is the Xavi Simmons of N America. Even has the same hair. But seriously, watch them both play. They have strikingly similar styles. Amazingly technical players the both of them. Exquisite control over the ball, reading the game at a high level, finding the dangerous through ball that most other footballers would miss, etc…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *