2011 Dallas Cup - Two Days In

Tuesday, April 19, 2011 | View Comments

- John Carlton

For the uninitiated, Dallas Cup is the premier showcase for the best youth soccer talent on the planet. The Dallas Cup tournament is now in its 32nd year. A brief checklist of players who have participated in Dallas Cup: Raul, Robinho, David Beckham, Wayne Rooney, Michael Owen, Landon Donovan, Giuseppe Rossi, Rafael Garcia, Giovanni Dos Santos, Rafa Marquez, Michael Carrick, Chicharito, Claudio Reyna, Jonathan Woodgate, Peter Crouch, and the list goes on. And, of course, Dallas itself is a hotbed of youth soccer. Dallas Texans, Andromeda SC., and FC Dallas Juniors are now well known. Meanwhile, new youth clubs are continually popping up in the area to meet the demand for top level youth soccer.

As much as it is an international youth soccer tournament, it is a festival of sorts, with all the trappings. There are games and prizes, booths selling merchandise, and even teenagers playing Ozzy covers on the Pizza Hut Park concourse.

Since Pizza Hut Park was erected, with its complex of 18 soccer fields, the Dallas Cup has more or less moved all of its games there. A few games are still played at Richland College, but the big games are staged in Frisco. The tournament started in earnest on a bright, windy Sunday and featured eight games in the 16 team Gordon Jago Super Group. Because of the sheer size of the tournament, I'll be focusing exclusively on the Super Group during the week ahead.

On the pitch inside Pizza Hut Park, I took in the match between Real Salt Lake (AZ) USSF U17/U18 Academy and Mexico's Tigres youth team. In light of tomorrow's big CONCACAF Champions League match between Real Salt Lake and Monterrey, I wanted to get an idea of the relative progress of MLS academy teams versus FMF youth sides.

Tigres definitely played a more fluid attacking style of football, much like their senior team, and often camped around RSL's box. RSL employed a bunker and quick counterattacking style, that stood them in good stead for most of the first half. And while Tigres had more technically advanced and skilled players, RSL's group looked to have the more physically gifted players. Two players who stood out: Tigres #10 Jorge Espericueta, who played right midfield and looked smooth on the ball and continually dribbled past defenders. For Real Salt Lake, #3 Phanuel Kavita at left center back looked like the heir apparent to Jamison Olave. Kavita is a big kid with great aerial ability and terrific recovery speed. Those are future stars, so remember the names. Even though Tigres dominated possession and got a 3-1 win, RSL fans can feel comfortable with the next generation of players coming up through the academy.

Other news and notes from the first two days of Dallas Cup XXXII:

- FC Dallas Academy beat FC Barcelona 3-1 in Super Group action on Sunday. The FC Dallas squad features some players that are on the senior squad like Jon Top and Moises Hernandez, while Barcelona's team is all U17 players.

- There are chances to watch Dallas Cup Super Group matches live. Head over to the official website for details.

- These are the first appearances for Arsenal and Barcelona in Dallas Cup.

- A few international teams are at the tournament including Japan U18 (who brought quite the entourage), India U15, and Cayman Islands and Puerto Rico are also represented.

I will be live tweeting the Wednesday match between FC Barcelona and Club Sport Cartagines starting at 3pm EDT. Follow me on Twitter @Archtype throughout the week for more Dallas Cup news and notes.

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