Garcia, FC Dallas Academy Tout High-Powered Offense
U-17/18 Academy Team Honors Former Teammate with Every Goal, Victory
For the FC Dallas U-17/18 U.S. Soccer Development Academy team, it was merely a formality before the team officially qualified for the 2012 Academy Playoffs. The team has scored 77 goals in 26 games for a 21-2-3 record (17-1-1 in the Texas Division) this season, and the offensive production is tops among all Academy teams and age groups.
That became a reality when FC Dallas blanked Solar Chelsea SC 2-0 on April 21, led by Danny Garciaâ€™s team-leading 18th goal of the season.
â€œItâ€™s been great,â€ Garcia said of his teamâ€™s consistent output. â€œWeâ€™re good at communicating with one another and we know what each player wants to do. The main thing now is to just keep on playing as we are. We donâ€™t want to lose our mentality and give up points in the division.â€
While the team itself has enjoyed continuous success and high moments throughout league play, FC Dallas faced a heartbreaking loss of a former teammate shortly before the 2011-12 Development Academy season got underway. FC Dallas Academy product and 18-year-old midfielder Jose Perez was on his way to a practice for San Jacinto Collegeâ€™s soccer team when a passenger-side car accident claimed his life.
The tragedy naturally resonated throughout the FC Dallas community, team staff and players. From the Academy teamâ€™s standpoint, Perezâ€™s memory is with the group every time the players take the pitch, Garcia said.
â€œEverything we do is dedicated to Jose,â€ Garcia said. â€œEverybody on the team plays for him, and every game we play for him. Weâ€™re trying to win a championship for him. Heâ€™s been our main motivation.
â€œHe was a very good teammate â€“ responsible, humble, and he was always laughing,â€ Garcia said. â€œWe really miss his smile. He lived in Fort Worth, so sometimes when we would have practice he would spend time here at the apartment. We were family.â€
With Perez constantly in the teamâ€™s thoughts, FC Dallas has put together a banner season that featured a 13-game unbeaten streak (11-0-2) to start the season, including six victories in its first six games.
At the helm of the team has been Garcia, who appears to have a budding future beyond the Academy.
Garcia is committed to the University of North Carolina, where the Tar Heels recently won the 2011 NCAA Menâ€™s Soccer College Cup. And Garcia has been called up three times to the U.S. U-20 Menâ€™s National Team under head coach Tab Ramos.
â€œIâ€™m grateful to get the chance to play with them,â€ Garcia said of the U-20s. â€œTab plays the same formation here in Dallas and he wants me at left forward. So Iâ€™ve known that position for a while. Itâ€™s perfect.â€
Garcia has been a part of the FC Dallas Academy and Development Academy program since joining the U-15/16 team in 2009. The U-17/18 teamâ€™s top scoring threat these days surprisingly admits that this was one area that needed work when he first joined.
â€œWhen I came here, I couldnâ€™t finish that well,â€ Garcia said of his start with the FC Dallas Academy. â€œThe defending part of my game, Iâ€™ve grown with that. And Iâ€™ve also just become a better person on and off the field.
â€œAt the time I was playing with the Longhorns,â€ Garcia said. â€œOne of my teammates from the high school team told me to go to one of their practices. Afterward they talked to me, invited me on a trip to Mexico, and Iâ€™ve been full-time with the Academy since.â€
Garcia was named Development Academy Player of the Week for Sept. 25-26, 2011, netting a key goal during a 3-2 FC Dallas victory against Andromeda FC. He mostly has played up front for the team this season, but Garcia also contributes a bit closer to the midfield.
â€œThey play me up front on the left in a 4-3-3 formation, but I tend to drop a lot,â€ Garcia said. â€œMostly I play up top, but sometimes theyâ€™ll play me as a No. 10 position at the top of the diamond, with the two forwards up top.â€
The FCD offense has been at the forefront, but the Academy team has been strong on both ends of the pitch. Defensively, the FC Dallas U-17/18s have allowed only 12 goals in 26 games this season.
â€œOur goalkeepers are really good and the defense is solid,â€ Garcia said. â€œThey know what to do and they stay compact. Our midfield is really good with the ball, needing only a couple touches at the most. And our forwards â€“ we just score.â€
With the regular season winding down, FC Dallas is primed to make another strong run in the postseason. Last yearâ€™s U-17/18 team advanced to the U-17/18 Development Academy Finals Week Championship Game , but lost to Pateadores 2-1.
â€œLast year, we didnâ€™t come out like we always do and didnâ€™t keep the ball well,â€ Garcia said. â€œOur defending was bad, too. It was a whole lot of problems. But as long as we keep on doing what we are doing at the moment and give everything weâ€™ve got, we should be fine.â€