FC Dallas U-15/16 Advances to Academy Championships Final
July 14, 2016

The FC Dallas U-15/16s advanced to Saturday's 2016 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Final thanks to a 1-0 victory against the Chicago Fire U-15/16 side on Thursday afternoon. Jacob Goyen's curling 74th minute effort pushed the club to a second-straight U-15/16 Academy Final.

Despite playing the underdog role, the Chicago Fire U-15/16s had the better of the play early on. Applying high pressure, attacker Vitalis Takawira Jr. forced a FC Dallas turnover at the back and drove towards the box. Takawira's saw his run rebuffed by the Dallas defense, but the ball poked free for Andrew Akindele whose quick blast was well held by FCD goalkeeper Carlos Avilez.

Dallas responded just three minutes later when Aldo Quevedo found a clear lane to goal on the right before unleashing a vicious strike that was turned out for a corner kick by the Fire's Kyle Orciuch.

Both teams picked up pace midway through the half, giving each a golden opportunity just before the break.

The Fire nearly found the score sheet thanks to a bit of luck. In the 21st minute, David Portugal's low cross from the left was redirected by a FC Dallas defender, forcing a quick reaction save from Avilez. The ball fell perfectly for the Fire's Adrian Ortega but his close-range volley went over the bar.

FC Dallas came close to striking back in the 38th minute when Brian Reynolds latched onto a ball over the top and put his shot from the left off the cross bar. The follow up fell for Quevedo, who saw his attempt saved by a desperation tackle from Fire's left back, Anthony Markanich.

"I thought Chicago had a great plan," said FC Dallas Academy Director Luchi Gonzalez. "They were committed and made it difficult in the first half. I felt we were a little anxious and not as clean on the ball as we wanted. We went in and solved some problems at halftime, pushed our lines a little bit and the tempo and things started to click."

Things clicked for FC Dallas early in the second half. In the 47th minute, Reynolds received a ball at the top of the box and struck a blinding effort that forced a diving stop out of Orciuch.

FC Dallas came close again 15 minutes later when a deft outside of the foot cross from Jose Castro picked out Brecc Evans, whose side-footed volley was kept out with another diving stop from Orciuch before going out for a corner kick.

After relenting second half pressure, the tie finally broke in the 74th minute. The high press from FC Dallas locked the Fire in their own half and after several failed clearance attempts, the ball fell for Jacob Goyen on the right who cut inside before his intended cross caught Orciuch off guard and floated into the top left corner.

The Fire looked desperate to find a later equalizer, but FC Dallas closed out the game, securing the team a place in the U-15/16 Final for a second-straight year.

"As the game went on, we got more comfortable. I give our boys a lot of credit because they persevered and found a way," said Gonzalez. "We'd be disappointed not to go to the end. There's no time to rest until it's all done. I think the boys showed that at the end of the game. They were ecstatic to win, they put a lot of energy on the field, but didn't over celebrate."

FC Dallas have the opportunity to finish the job this Saturday, when they face either the LA Galaxy or Real Colorado in the U-15/16 Championship game at 5 p.m. PT (live on U.S. Soccer YouTube).