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As far as North Texas Soccer and US Youth Soccer events go, it would be hard to have a better season than Under-17 Boys FC Dallas 00 Premier (TX-N).
FC Dallas went undefeated while winning the US Youth Soccer Southern Regional Premier League (SRPL) West, North Texas Soccer State Cup and US Youth Soccer Region III Championship titles. The latter secured a spot in the 2017 US Youth Soccer National Championships. Not bad for a team that was basically built from scratch at the beginning of the year.
“With the rule change to age pure, we only had two players in the 2000 group that stayed and the rest were new,” FC Dallas 00 Premier head coach Clem Oancea said. “It was interesting to see all the new faces coming in looking for a spot. It is a special group to achieve all that they have this year.”
That’s not to say the journey to the National Championships was easy by any means. FC Dallas won its first four games at the Region III Championships by one goal apiece before defeating the 2015 Region III and National Champions Houstonians 2000 (TX-S) 3-0 in the semifinals. After going down 1-0 early in the finals to SRPL East winners CASL Red 00 North (NC), Joseph Nelson’s header off a corner-kick in the 90th minute knotted things up. FC Dallas would erupt in the second period of extra time with three goals to propel the North Texas State Cup champions to a 4-1 win, and ultimately a regional title.
“In the final I feel like we blew some chances, which let the other team hang around. We had to make some adjustments, but the boys know what it takes to win,” Oancea said. “These boys trust each other like a family. They are brothers after spending all this time training, playing in games and travelling together. It is a special group of boys and families who have their back.”
Oancea didn’t want to give anything away in regards to the what he felt were the strengths and weaknesses to his team, but he did emphasize the belief his players have in each other.
“The main thing is the boys love to play the game the right way and for each other,” Oancea said. “We will continue to grow and do the things that got us here, but if we did those things well to get here, we are going to have to do them a lot better to compete with the best teams in the country.”
With the National Championships occurring at Toyota Soccer Complex in Frisco, Texas, FC Dallas has the rare opportunity of not only playing in their hometown, but also compete on the fields that have been the location of their training for the entire year.
“It is exciting for the boys to be playing on the fields where they train, and for them to be able to play in front of their families is a great thing,” Oancea said. “It will be fun to see how other teams adjust to the heat, because we are used to it, but everyone is going to be ready for these games. No matter the conditions, you can’t find excuses. You have to find solutions.”
Oancea also explained that playing in a tournament with the magnitude of the National Championships would further expose them to college coaches and prepare them for the next level.
“A lot of college coaches have noticed this is a special group with the speed and desire to play. This group can compete with anyone,” Oancea said. “Playing in this tournament helps them for when they move on to play at some of the best colleges in the country. It is a huge accomplishment, and they deserve it.”
As far as on the field, Oancea emphasized the need to avoid the silly mistakes, and that teams that do usually end up in a good spot.
“Playing in this tournament against the best teams in the country is already an accomplishment and is an awesome thing. Getting out of the group stage would be a huge accomplishment alone,” Oancea said. “Every team here is a special group, so the team that remains the most focused and can keep emotion out of it has the best shot to win. It is going to be fun. We are very excited.”
For Oancea, the tournament can be bittersweet since Scott Dymond, who is stranger to the National Championships, will begin coaching this squad starting next season. Oancea went out of his way to gush about how well his team responds to being coached.
“Having such a coachable attitude is huge. They take every word I can say and make it happen, while seeing the big picture. It is a beautiful thing,” Oancea said. “I am blessed to be able to work with them, and I am looking forward to seeing them play in college and achieve the other goals they have in the future.”
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