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U-17/18 Championship Scouting Report: FC Dallas vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC

U.S. Soccer Technical Advisors Tim Regan and Juan Carlos Michia break down the two teams competing for the U.S. Soccer Development Academy U-17/18 championship.

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FC Dallas and first-season Development Academy team Vancouver Whitecaps FC will face each other during the U-17/18 age division’s Academy Finals Week championship match at 8 p.m. CT (9 p.m. ET) on Sunday, July 22, at BBVA Compass Stadium, the new home of Major League Soccer’s Houston Dynamo.

Scouting Report provided by U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor Tim Regan

Overall Record (including Academy Playoffs and Finals Week): 22-6-4
Head Coach: Craig Dalrymple
Northwest Division: 11-2-2, 35 points (First place)
Finals Week Record: 2-0-1 (9 GF, 4 GA)

Development Academy Playoffs, Group 2*: 2-1-0, 6 points (8 GF, 3 GA)
*Won Group2  based on goal differential against Weston FC
Goal Scoring Leader: Caleb Clarke (24 goals in 27 appearances)
Haven’t lost since: June 25, 3-2 against Pateadores in the first game of Academy Playoffs group play
2011-12 Record vs. FC Dallas: 0-0-1 (2-2 draw on Dec. 2, 2011 at Lakewood Ranch, Fla.)

Potential Starting XI (4-2-1-3): Callum Irving; Declan Rodriguez, Tim Hickson, Daniel Stanese, Sam  Adekugbe; Alex Rowley, Bryce Alderson; Ben McKendry; Yassin Essa, Caleb Clarke, Ben Fisk

Vancouver tends to favor a 4-2-1-3 formation with Ben Alderson as the key cog in the midfield, dropping in to collect the buildup out of the back and transitioning to the forwards.

Playing style
The numbers tell the story: Vancouver likes to get forward quickly and often. Scoring nine goals in three games, Whitecaps FC can build the attack from anywhere on the field and they don’t really favor one attacking strategy to another – choosing to play the ball out to the flanks as often as through the middle of the field. Solid defensively playing four in the back, the team’s organization and movement is good with center backs Daniel Stanese and either Tim Hickson or Jason van Blerk communicating well to snuff out attacks. Effectively managing their matches, Vancouver trailed in a game for just 15 minutes during group play. After going down 1-0 in the 63rd minute against Colorado on Friday, Whitecaps FC noticeably flicked the switch and dominated the game, earning the equalizer in the 78th minute and nearly winning in the fourth minute of stoppage time on a penalty kick that went wide.

Strengths: Organization, teamwork, attacking talent
Area of concern: Tendency to get stretched when pressing too many players forward in attack

Forward Ben Fisk, who plays on the left wing, has been one of the standout players of the tournament, scoring a hat trick in back-to-back matches for a total of six goals in three games. Fisk, who is a member of Canada’s Under-20 Men’s National Team, has an excellent touch and is menacing taking on defenders. With his ability to put the ball on frame consistently, he is a constant threat.

Center forward Caleb Clarke, who signed a professional contract with Vancouver on April 24 and was on trial with German third-division club Rot-Weiss Erfurt during the Development Academy Playoffs, is the big target in the middle. He’s imposing and physical, and a good finisher when given the opportunity.

Dictating the play and distributing from the middle is Bryce Alderson, who also signed a professional contract with Whitecaps FC on Nov. 17, 2011. Alderson commands the center of the field for Vancouver, often dropping back into the defensive half of the field to collect the ball and start the attack. He formerly captained the Canada Under-17 Men’s National Team and recently earned a call up with the Canada Under-20 Men’s National Team.

In the back four, 6-foot-1 center back Daniel Stanese is Vancouver’s rock in defense. He is simply a good, reliable defender with strong awareness and good positioning.

Off the bench
Midfielder Carlos Patino provides a spark of energy off the bench, while midfielder Spencer DeBoice has the ability enter a match and score like he did on Friday against Colorado.

Scouting Report provided by U.S. Soccer Technical Advisor Juan Carlos Michia

Overall Record (including Academy Playoffs and Finals Week): 29-4-4
Head Coach: Chris Hayden
Texas Division: 21-3-1, 64 points (First place)
Finals Week Record: 2-0-1 (6 GF, 4 GA)

Development Academy Playoffs, Group 5*: 3-0-0, 9 points (7 GF, 0 GA)
*Won Group 5 by three points; didn’t concede a goal in three games
Goal Scoring Leader: Danny Garcia (20 goals in 29 appearances)
Haven’t lost since: May 19, 2-1 against Texans SC Houston in Texas Division play
2011-12 Record vs. Whitecaps FC: 0-0-1 (2-2 draw on Dec. 2, 2011 at Lakewood Ranch, Fla.)

FC Dallas plays a 4-4-2 formation with four at the back and a diamond in the midfield. Danny Garcia plays at the top of the diamond, dictating the flow of the attack. At least a portion of the back line is apt to get forward at times to try and get a head on a set piece.

Potential Starting XI (4-4-2): Eduardo Cortes; Nicholas Rochowski, Mark Ashby, Aaron Guillen, Michael Ambrose; Kellyn Acosta, Marco Carrizales, Danny Garcia, Flavio Guzman;  Jonathan Top, Jose De La Tejera

Playing Style
You won’t see FC Dallas playing Route 1 football any time soon. The MLS-affiliated Academy club likes the ball at their feet, stringing together short passes while building an attack. Starting in the back, FC Dallas features good communicators both on the field and from the bench as the team shows patience while probing for a penetrating opportunity via a through ball or an overlapping run. Goalkeeper Eduardo Cortes is a strong distributor of the ball, while the defenders know their roles and are technically sound and strong in the air. The defenders can get forward and use their size in the attack, but that also leaves FC Dallas exposed as they aren’t the fastest players tracking back. Along with good communication, the Hoops have good vision and positioning is a key in building their attack.

Strengths: Communication, patience, technically sound, versatile defenders
Areas of concern: Can be slow getting back on defense; forwards don’t always choose the best runs near the box

Forward Jonathan Top, who signed a professional contract with FC Dallas on Jan. 12, 2011, has played two matches for the first team this season, and has scored three goals in the last two matches during Finals Week.

Center back Aaron Guillen, who committed to Florida Gulf Coast University, brings the determination and heart to the table, while Michael Ambrose helps set the pace out of the back. Ambrose is committed to the University of Maryland.

Leading goal scorer Danny Garcia, North Carolina bound and a member of the U.S. Under-20 Men’s National Team player pool, is the dictator at the top of a midfield diamond for FC Dallas, while versatile Kellyn Acosta can play defense or midfielder. Acosta, 16, signed a professional contract with FC Dallas on July 12.

Off the bench
Midfielder/forward David Robledo, who has appeared for the FC Dallas Reserves this season, has a nice touch and brings a sense of control off the bench while pairing up well with Garcia. Speedy forward Alonso Gallegos brings extra pace to the attack and can penetrate with good runs around the box.

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