ECNL HAS IMPRESSIVE REPRESENTATION AT 2022 DALLAS CUP
One of the most prestigious and largest tournaments in youth soccer, the Dallas Cup finished up earlier this April, and ECNL teams showed their quality with impressive displays by many at the showcase. League clubs brought home hardware in four different age groups, with more than 15 ECNL teams making it to the semifinals in their respective age groups.
The ECNL’s most impressive showing came in the U17 age group, where all four semifinalists were ECNL member clubs, three of which from the Dallas market. DKSC battled Solar SC in its semifinal matchup, earning a 3-1 victory, while Santa Clara Sporting advanced to the finals with a 2-1 victory over FC Dallas. In the finals, DKSC won the silverware with a 3-1 victory, capping off an undefeated tournament.
“The boys set out to the tournament with a goal,” said Mario Carillo, DKSC U17 Head Coach. “In training sessions, we had a plan for every game, and to the boys’ credit, they executed it. And hats off to them too. When we got out of the knockout round, our captain said, ‘We’re going to go for it all.’ They said they were going to do whatever it takes to win, and they did.”
DKSC’s win is the team’s second Dallas Cup championship, as the group won the Dallas Cup in the U14 age group three seasons ago. It was the first time in DKSC history an age group has won the Dallas Cup twice, making the victory that much sweeter.
“This was the second time we won the championship, and honestly, this one was more rewarding,” Carillo said. “The boys, they’re older now, they’re going to be heading to college soon or trialing for pro teams. They’re a lot more mature than they were three years ago. So to be able to share in that experience again, it was just an amazing feeling. All of them were just saying, ‘We did it. We did it again.’”
Another incredible run to a Dallas Cup title came from La Roca in the U18/19 age group. Tied with Dallas Texans on the final day of group play and needing a win, La Roca fought hard for a 3-1 victory to advance to the knockout stage, one of five ECNL teams to do so in the age group.
“We knew we needed that win,” said David Chevez, La Roca U18/19 Head Coach. “I give lots of credit to my coaching staff. They scouted Dallas before the game and presented our players with a solid game plan. And credit to the players for executing that plan perfectly.”
After earning a 1-0 win against the reigning MLS Next champion in the quarterfinals, the club battled El Paso Locomotive in the semifinals and scored two goals in the game’s final three minutes to clinch a spot in the championship contest. In the title game, La Roca was given a red card just minutes into the match, but the 10-man squad rallied around each other to claim a 2-1 win and the club’s first-ever Dallas Cup trophy. With the win, La Roca also became the first Utah club to win the prestigious tournament.
“This championship means the world to us,” said Adolfo Ovalle, La Roca Academy Director. “It’s the first time a Utah club has won the Dallas Cup. We had been working hard for the past few years to get an invite and finally we got one this year. And then we go and win the whole thing. This title just speaks volumes to where we are as a club in terms of how we’re developing our teams and our players. The future of the club is bright and we’re incredibly proud of our coaches and our players for winning such a prestigious tournament.”
Along with DKSC and La Roca, Dallas Texans and Legends FC also brought home trophies for the ECNL. Dallas Texans won the youngest age group of the event, U12, while Legends FC defeated fellow ECNL club San Diego Surf in the U13 championship, where Sporting CA Arsenal FC also made the semifinals.
Beyond the ages where ECNL teams claimed championship trophies, league teams made big impacts at every age group. In the U14 age group, Dallas Texans finished in second place, with Oklahoma Energy FC making it to the semifinal round. In the U16 age group, FC Dallas advanced to the championship game, with Crossfire Premier suffering a defeat in their semifinal contest.
In the U15 age group, three ECNL clubs made it to the semifinals, with FC Dallas, Solar SC and Santa Clara Sporting competing for the trophy. FC Dallas moved on, defeating its league-mate Solar SC, while Santa Clara Sporting lost in its semifinal match. In the Championship match, FC Dallas played an incredible match, but ultimately fell by a score of 1-0.
Overall, ECNL teams had the strongest representation of all youth soccer leagues in the Dallas Cup, with 16 teams making the semifinal round across the seven age groups, averaging nearly 60 percent of all teams competing for the trophy. The ECNL also brought home the most trophies of any league at the Dallas Cup (four) and had the most teams competing in the championship game (nine of 14).
The Dallas Cup was founded in 1980 and quickly became one of the top youth soccer tournaments in the country and in the world. Typically comprised of 60 percent domestic teams and 40 percent international teams, the tournament brings together clubs from around the world. In 2022, just some of the international teams ECNL teams shared the pitch with were Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany), Tigres UANL (Mexico), CF Monterrey, (Mexico) Everton (England), Olympiacos FC (Greece) and HB KØGE (Denmark).
This season’s iteration of the Dallas Cup saw the ECNL once again make a strong impact on and off the pitch, showing the league is where the best of the best come to compete and win trophies against teams from across the country and the globe.