Welcome to what is, effectively, the 4th version of my who’s who list of players to watch in the FC Dallas Academy. The first two versions were preparations for the Dallas Cup, but last year I moved this feature to the start of the Academy season and this new list continues that season preview concept.
Training camps for the older Academy teams started on August 2nd, so it seems a good time for my lists to drop.
My list of players to watch is based on years of observations, tracking, watching, and talking to people. They can and do change frequently as players rise and fall… or come and go.
These lists are also, of course, not complete and entire rosters. If your favorite player (or son) isn’t on here, don’t fret too much. I don’t have room for everyone and this list was too long last year. (Believe me, I’ve tried to cut it down and it’s probably still too long.)
The Big Picture
Based on some conversations I’ve had around these teams, I believe there is going to be a lot of movement up and down between the FC Dallas Academy teams this year. I’m going to list players with the teams I understand they are with right now… but it will almost certainly change as the year goes along.
I also decided to show you some of the tiers I use to divide up prospects. Their titles are pretty self-explanatory, as you will see. But certainly, they aren’t gospel.
FC Dallas U19s – 2003s & 2004s – Coach John Gall
Most of the 2003s are graduated and there are only a few at most still around. None of them made my list.
Technically, four 2003 FC Dallas Homegrowns are technically eligible for this team – Ricardo Pepi, Dante Sealy, Justin Che, and Collin Smith – and that’s amazing. Also, Jonathan Gomez was a 2003. (/sad emjoi)
The 2004 class is also a bit thin. There are only a handful of them left as well.
But, if you recall from previous year’s lists, there are a whole bunch of good 2005s and 2006s. Too many, in fact, for the U17s. So a large chunk of the 2005s are going to play up with this U19 team.
And one player who is a 2006.
Antonio Carrera (2004) – 6’3” Goalkeeper. He mostly played with the U19s last year. He’s already made the North Texas bench and trains with FC Dallas’ MLS team quite often. I do know that there has been some level of contract talks with the club. Antonio turns 18 next March. Right about the right time for a contract, perhaps? He wears the #13.
Matthew Concoran (2006) – Holding mid or 8. He’s skipping the U17s and jumping from U15 to U19. An amazing player, quality defender, fantastic passer, smooth on the ball, and reads the game at a very high level. He’s already debuted with North Texas SC. It’s now time for him to dominate Academy games, even playing up against players much older. US Youth Int. He turns 16 in February. Hum…
Tarik Scott (2005) – Forward. Exploded up my ranks this year. Won the Golden Boot in the MLS Next Players. Dynamic, exciting scorer. Tons of tools, skills, and athleticism. Can’t wait to see if his trajectory continues.
Future Pro Tier
Diego Hernandez (2005) – Linking mid. He made his NTX debut last year but didn’t get back there in 2021, yet. He’s the next in the long line of quality creative/linking mids out of the FCD Academy. The only problem is FCD might not need an 8 right this minute, which is why I lowered him a little on my rank despite the fact he’s been the best 2005 for a few years now.
Nighte Pickering (2005) – Pure 9 and goal poacher. The “e” in his first name is silent. U15s leading scorer last year. He’s already been an FCD training invitee when they have been short 9s. The sum is greater than the parts. All he does is score goals. Signed with an agent.
Has a Shot – Need to See More Tier
Adrian Anguiano (2005) – Center back. A recent Mexico U16 camper. Did the knee double tear (ACL & MCL) training with North Texas earlier this year. I had him a tier up on this list until the injury. Now there’s just no telling if he will ever be the same player.
Pranav DuBroff (2005) – Center back. The other strong center back with this group. Key leader. Always solid but he’s never blown me away. Lots of good tools and upside. US Youth Int.
Cesar Elizalde (2004) – Midfield. Nicknamed “Danny.” From El Paso. In the games I watched the U19s last year he was their best player. A game controlling central midfielder but FCD produces a lot of 8s. He has played a little left back in a pinch.
Santiago Ferreira (2004) – Midfield. Jesus’ brother. One of only a couple ‘04 with the U17s last year. He scored a banger of a goal in the MLS Next playoffs and was just registered on the North Texas roster.
Diego Gamez (2004) – Right back. A player I only became aware of at Dallas Cup this year, so he’s new to my list. He’s got a lot of skills for the modern attacking right back. Needs to drive his crosses rather than float them and work on his final connections in the box, but I was intrigued.
Jose Gutierrez (2004) – Forward/wing. One of the most consistent attacking threats for the U19s last year while playing up a year. Former Dallas Texan.
Jordan Jones (2005) – Linking mid. Box to box player. Former US U17 and U15. At one time the most dominant player in this class. He was in the highest rank on my list, I thought very highly of him. But in my last few viewings, he seems lost and I’m worried. I don’t know where he’s at now. Needs to turn it around soon to stop the fall.
Ty Reynolds (2004) – 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 earlier than Bryan. At one time a Georgetown commitment. He’s made big strides in his ball skill this year. Played up with the U19s last season.
Chris Sanchez (2005) – Forward or right back. Dangerous and creative but a hot and cold player. He’s got some internal mojo that many players lack but is short on tactical nuance. This is a big year for him. His twin brother Carlos also plays for the Academy.
FC Dallas U17s – 2005s & 2006s – Coach Matias Asorey
As I already mentioned, a large chunk of the 2005s are up with the U19s. But there are still five that I know of down with the U17s. Are they down with the 17s because of their size and physical maturity? Roster needs? Playing time? Off-field issues? Mental maturity?
The bulk of this U17 side is going to be made up of the – also loaded – 2006s.
The U17s year is a big weed-out year. There won’t be as many players in the top tier here by the end of the season.
Henry Canizalez (2006) – Left back. Love this kid, best FC Dallas left back prospect since Jonathan Gomez. A complete player already with all the tools and smarts to use them. US U14 ID Camp call up.
Julian Eyestone (2006) – Goalkeeper. 6’6” and maybe still growing but remains athletic and coordinated. A “freak of nature” in the very best way. FCD even uses him as a 9 from time to time, that’s how good an athlete he is. Sky’s the limit here.
Malachi Molina (2006)– Forward/wing. Every time I watch him play he does something that makes me say “wow.” But he drifts in and out of games. He needs to take it up a notch and put in complete performances to really make the Homegrown grade. Mal reminds me of Bryan Reynolds at that same age, as nuts a comparison as that may be for some. US U14 ID Camp call up.
Anthony Ramirez (2005) – Attacking mid or wing. Probably the best ball handler and dribbler in the U17s last year. A line-breaking passer. Former US U15 call-up and recent Mexico call-up. One of my favorite players in the Academy, I think this kid’s got bags of talent. Size and position (he used to be a pure 10) may limit his usefulness to the current MLS regime (see Roberts, Thomas). In my mind, he’s going to be a big-time pro, just maybe not in MLS with FCD.
Alejandro Urzua (2006) – Can play any of the three central midfield spots. The best all-around 2006 after Corcoran. I’m expecting a big season for Ally in the U17s. He’s a player to watch for sure as he has the all-around game FCD loves.
Future Pro Tier
Gabriel “Toro” Brandon (2006) – Center back. Dominant defender, big leader, highly ranked, and highly regarded. Unfortunately, he’s only about 5’9” (last time I asked a few months ago) and – despite being a great athlete – that might not be big enough for an MLS center back. US U14 ID Camp call up.
Kris Kelley (2006) – Has always had lots of the right stuff and is starting to put it all together. Scored bags of goals in the latter half of last season. Looks like he could be the real deal. Similar style to Dante Sealy. Needs more consistency game to game. US U14 ID Camp call up. Previously at Sevilla FC, PSG, and Barcelona.
Nolan Norris (2005) – Left back but getting center back looks too. Love this player, so smooth and an amazing game reader. He has a unique soccer mind and does the unexpected. But where will his future position be? He may lack the verticality of a true modern outside back… can he fit in centrally? US Youth Int.
Has a Shot – Need to See More Tier
Kevin Kelley (2005) – Forward/wing. The older Kelley. A similar player to his younger brother but not as explosive, dangerous, or productive. Also, previously at Sevilla FC, PSG, and Barcelona.
Jared Salazar (2006)– Attacking mid. Formally of Solar, he joined FCD in 2019. He’s real quality on the ball and 100% all lefty. Terrific passing vision. He needs to influence the game more if he’s going to move up on my board.
Nayrobi Vargas (2006) – Striker. The best 9 on the U15s team last season. There’s a lot of raw tools here but he’s a project at this point. Hasn’t put it all together. If he does he could rise fast…. If not… well college soccer is still a great way to go.
FC Dallas U15s – 2007s – Coach Alex Aldaz
This is the youngest age group that I try to watch somewhat frequently. It’s where I first start to really separate the names on my tracking lists. I got my first look at these guys at the Dallas Cup back in April when they were U14s.
This 2007 group is more “normal” and not crazy deep like the 2005s and 2006s.
Jeyden Arboleda (2007) – Midfielder. Quite small but dominates the game, controls it in the middle of the park. A pure playmaker and attacker but he also checks and presses. Previously with Houston Dynamo and Texans SC (Thanks Eric Quill?).
Brice Miller (2007) – Forward. The dominant player in this side the last two years. He was playing hurt in the Dallas Cup and was still one of their best players. Joined FCD from Solar a couple of seasons ago.
Zach Molomo (2008) – Forward. If he’s not with the U15s all the time he still should be up with them quite a bit. Early maturing player, so he’s big and strong. There is plenty of skill and talent here that makes him worth moving up even if he weren’t big. He’s a pretty intimidating player and a tough matchup.
Future Pro Tier
Cayne Madhlangove (2007) – Pronounced “Cain.” He was my personal favorite U14 at the Dallas Cup. Stocky in build, he’s tenacious and tough. Defends hard and works his tail off the whole game. Athletic enough to get forward to both cross or cut inside. He has a presence in the game, draws attention and notice.
Has a Shot – Need to See More Tier
Michael Cortellessa (2007) – I’ve seen him play left back where he was solid and right wing where he was electric. Eye-opening burst and combo play, super dangerous. I want to see more.
Saul Guzman (2007) – Center back. The best defender in the U14s when I saw them at the Dallas Cup.
Myles Nicholes (2007) – A massively big center back. If he can grow into his body he could really be something. Right now he’s kind of all over the place and super raw.
FC Dallas U14s – 2008s – Coach Scott James
I have not seen these kids yet. I almost always get my first look at the U14s at Dallas Cup, April 2022 in the 2008s’ case. Consequently, other than Molomo (see above), I only have one other 2008 name I know anything about, and even that isn’t much.
Jaxon Meese (2008) – Position unknown. He’s played up with the 2007s on a few occasions which is how I know about him.
FC Dallas U13s and U12s – 2009 & 2010 – Multiple Coaches
While I have a long list of names on my tracking sheet only one of them do I have enough info on to mention.
Alhaji Musa Njie (2010) – Forward. Write this name down and let’s check back in about 5 years and see if he’s as good as I hear he is. Because if he is, look out.
Any new kids (recruits) that you know of?
Yes, Tate Jones. U17 LCB from Seattle who just moved here and was invited to join the Academy. I got a good first impression report. But that’s the only one I have heard of so far.
I feel like I’ve been reading about Corcoran for years. When do you expect that deal to get done?
There’s a good chance it might happen after he turns 16 in February… but it might depend on what European clubs are promising him. He might do a McKinnie as there are some teams who had tracked him since he was about 12.