Dallas Cup XXXII Comes to Exciting, Bizarre Conclusion
Thousands of memories were packed into the week of games and festivities of the 2011 Dallas Cup, but for the crowd and players on hand for the traditional final — the Super Group Championship — the first memory coming to mind will almost surely be a mad dash for cover under rain and the bizarre conclusion in the crowded and steamy locker room hall at Pizza Hut Park.
That’s because for the first time in the tournament’s 32-year history, co-champions were declared for the Super Group, with Eintracht Frankfurt of Germany and Tigres of Mexico to both receiving the coveted Golden Boot and all players getting championship jackets.
Weather overshadowed the action in Sunday’s Super Group Final, when the lightning, rain and wind eventually forced the tournament officials to call off the game with just less than 25 minutes remaining and the score tied at 1-1.
Both coaches were less than happy with the result, but they also acknowledged it was the right thing to do, under the circumstances.
Drama ruled the final game, though ironically, the nice crowd gathered when the game started was prompted out of the stands and under cover from the incoming storm several minutes before the German team finally scored in the 66th minute.
Dustin Ernst converted a penalty kick to get Eintracht Frankfurt on the scoreboard, after a Tigres player fouled Kevin Effiong in the penalty box to set it up. Just a few seconds after the teams were whistled to restart after the goal, the game announcer called off the teams and said that the game would restart in 30 minutes. After an hour, with lightning still crackling across the horizon, officials announced the game finished with the score at 1-1.
The action on Championship Sunday featured a long-time Dallas Cup participant, Knowsley Youth of England, finally cashing in on its first-time championship in the U19 age division with a 4-2 win over the Ajax Gunners from California. Another familiar Dallas Cup foreign team, Tigres of Mexico, won the U17 title in a 2-0 result over Santa Clara Sporting of California, but that was not a first-time sensation for the gold-clad Tigres team. The U16 title clash featured two more sides with a long Dallas Cup history, Estudiantes Tecos and CD Guadalajara. The neighborhood rivals in Guadalajara fought like rivals, with a 3-2 decision going to the Tecos.
Speaking of rival clubs, Dallas teams held the spotlight as well on Championship Saturday, with FC Dallas Premier beating Solar FC 2-0 for the U15 title. FC Dallas Premier fought a good fight for the U14 Championship, but the California-based Fullerton Rangers took the day and the title, 1-0. In the youngest age level, California prevailed again, with the Nomads beating the Houstonians FC Red from South Texas, 5-2. The Nomads are another long-time Dallas Cup participant.
Knowsley Youth is an English team that has kept the faith with the Dallas Cup for 20 years, making the big flight across the pond year after year, only to come up with the short end of the stick every time — until this year.
On at least two occasions, Knowsley has been runner-up in the Dallas Cup, but the team has been eager to make it a yearly adventure. The English team’s patience was rewarded Sunday with a resounding 4-2 victory over the Ajax Gunners to claim the 2011 U19 Dallas Cup Championship at Pizza Hut Park.
Steven Tames got Knowsley rolling in the 4th minute. He took a short pass in the middle of the box with his back to goal, turned left and cranked the ball past the goalie.
Ajax equalized in the 13th minute. A pass from the left by the Knowsley Youth was touched by an Ajax defender and deflected into the net for a Knowsley “own” goal to tie the game 1-1. The English side was here to win it this year, however, and pulled out ahead 3-1.
The game was looking like a rout, but the Ajax Gunners pulled it a goal back on a score from Zachary Mbolekwa in the 63rd minute to make it 3-2. Tames ended the drama in the 71st minute , however, scoring the insurance goal for Knowsley Youth. That boosted the final score to 4-2. The celebration the team put on at the end showed the 20-year wait for the Golden Boot trophy was worth it.
Tigres is a long-time veteran of the Dallas Cup, a Mexican club that knows the joy of winning and losing in emotional battles at all age groups in this tournament. On the Championship Sunday, the club showed its savvy by quickly taking the lead and adding to it later in the half to keep its opponent subdued, leading to a 2-0 win and U17 Dallas Cup title.
The Mexicans took physical and psychological control in the third minute on a quick goal by Isaac Alejandro Martinez to put the Tigres in front. With Santa Clara having to push in the game early, the Tigres players let the California team use its energy to chase the ball, while the Mexican team played it cool.
Tigres put the hammer down on a left-side attack in the 34th minute and a Sporting defender “blinked,” deflecting a crossing shot from the left to the ground. It took a high bounce to the corner of the net for a killer “own” goal.
Estudiantes Tecos and the CD Guadalajara didn’t really have to travel so far to square off in a take-no-prisoners match. Both teams are from Guadalajara, Mexico, and had to battle over the opposite sides of the bracket to meet each other for the U16 Dallas Cup championship. This isn’t even the first time it has happened in the 32-year history of the Dallas Cup.
But this Sunday, April 24, it turned into a goal-fest and eventual 3-2 victory for Tecos. Ramiro Flores Duran added to a 1-0 Tecos lead in the 71st minute on a shot from just outside the six-yard box that hit the goalie’s hands and bounced over and into the net to make the score 2-0.
That just got Chivas’ attention and stoked the action. Tecos helped with an overzealous player earning a red card, giving Chivas a man advantage. The game ended tied 2-2 in regulation.
Chivas continued to be aggressive in overtime. Jose Carlos Gutierrez fired a last-second shot that was saved at the line. The game-winner for Tecos came in the 93rd minute by Daniel Sanchez Arambul from 24 yards out in the left channel for a 3-2 final tally.
North Texas rivals FC Dallas and Solar SC made the U15 Dallas Cup Championship a local derby match in the final game for Saturday. Familiarity only turned up the intensity.
The “home” team at Pizza Hut Park, FC Dallas, had no easy time in subduing Solar. Luis Hernandez got the crowd oohing with a point-blank shot that was snuffed by the Solar ‘keeper. But the real buzz came when FCD’s Antonio Aguilar stuck in a goal from just outside the left of the penalty box.
FC Dallas kept pushing the ball forward and created some goal-box chaos by repeatedly picking up its own rebounds. The Solar defense stood tall, but couldn’t reply on its own.
Solar countered just before the first-half whistle, but couldn’t finish. FC Dallas got the message and applied the big chill in the first minute of the second half when Nicolas Lozado-Smith hit a left cross to Homero Montemayor III, who nodded the ball into net from 10 yards. It was effective at squelching a Solar comeback. The passion was still apparent, but the result stuck at 2-0 for FC Dallas.
FC Dallas could see a title just over the line, but it was the Fullerton Rangers from California that actually claimed victory. The Rangers persevered via a penalty kick shootout, 5-4, after both teams struggled in a scoreless regulation tie. It gave Fullerton a 1-0 win for the U14 Dallas Cup Championship.
Dallas’ big chance came in the 59th minute. Ricardo Gonzalez flew down the right side on a counter attack to the end line. He switched the ball to Juan Amaro inside the top of the box. With time to settle the ball and no imminent defenders, he rocketed his shot high instead of placing it around the charging goalie. It was a haunting goal chance that got away, one that could have reversed the final result.
In overtime, FCD’s Amaro took a great run down the flank in the 90th minute, sending a dangerous crossing shot on the run, but not into the net.
In the shots from the spot, FCD got off to a good start with a high shot to the goalie’s left by Martin Salas. Fullerton’s Ronaldo Pineda countered with a good, low, right-side shot. The Dallas team fell off the track with the second kicker as Christian Ramirez tied a low shot near the right center that the goalie hardly had to move to save. Fullerton remained perfect in its next four tries to take the title.
FC Dallas Coach Francisco Molina was still proud of his team’s effort: "Very proud of the boys. We lost against a very good opponent. PKs are a coin toss. So I'm very proud of my team. Definitely, I think the club is very proud of what we have accomplished.”
The Houstonians jumped to the early lead in the U13 Championship game, but the Nomads from California proved capable of rebounding and finally won this back-and-forth game, 5-2. The team from the Bayou City was it its own worst enemy, committing two defensive mistakes that directly led to Nomads markers.
Nomads coach Melvin Cuellar did a good job in summing up why winning the Dallas Cup was so important, and why the club keeps coming back.
“It’s exciting . . .exciting for the kids,” Cuellar said. “It’s a good experience for the boys, especially the new ones that came into the team. We hope that the group stays together from now on and accomplish a lot more.”
“We faced many, many styles. And that’s what the Dallas Cup is all about,” he added. “You come and compete with the best. They all have different styles. We had to adapt at times. But we came out alright. Oooohhh, we’re gonna party, we’re gonna party! We’re going to Disneyland!”
Saul Marquez, the Houstonians’ coach, felt the players gained a valuable experience from this tournament, stating, “We are extremely proud because this a small club in Houston. It’s an inner-city program and these kids did an extreme job to raise money to get here. They worked really, really hard to be where they are right now. We came and nobody believed in us and we made it to the finals. We were close, but we ran out of gas.”
Five North Texas teams emerged from the first day of playoffs, Thursday, to keep going: U15 FCD Premier, U15 Solar, U14 Andromeda, U14 FCD Premier and U13 Solar SC. Four more Dallas teams earned playoffs straight to Friday in the U17, U19 and Super Groups: FC Dallas Super Group, U19 Dallas Texans Red, U19 Solar Chelsea and U17 Solar Chelsea USSF U15/16 Academy.
The Super Group semifinals on Friday opened with Eintracht Frankfurt winning 2-0 over Arsenal in the first Stadium game. The featured late match pit a veteran Tigres side that wound up overwhelming Dallas, 5-0.
The first goal did not come easily for either team in the second match. Tigres applied early pressure, but the first dangerous shot came from FCD in the 12th minute, with Daniel Garza firing a grass-cutter from the left side that went just wide right.
The Dallas side was hurting from several injuries and, just four minutes into the game, Jose Perez — an attacker that helped sink FC Barcelona the opening day — left this contest due to an injury suffered Wednesday.
The Mexican team finally got on the board in the 31st minute on a goal by Victor Garza. Once the gate was open, Tigres marched on through and the momentum just kept rolling.
Bryan Leva, who has seen time with the Dallas first senior team, was a threat to Tigres all evening, including a shot to the right side just three minutes after the Tigres goal, which lead to a fruitless FCD corner kick.
The 1-0 lead expanded to 2-0 just after the second half started, on a shot by Moises Orozco in the 47th minute. That really put Tigres into the driver’s seat and the Mexicans took advantage of FCD’s drive to get back in the game by punishing the forward-thinking Texas team with more goals.
Oscar Montoya made the score 3-0 in the 64th minute, then Luis Castillo made sure the rout was on with a bomb from 35 yards out in the 83rd minute. He struck again four minutes later on the reeling FCD defense, deflecting the ball off a diving FCD goalie at the left post to finish the scoring, and the team from North Texas.
From FCD Coach Oscar Pareja: “We also have more injured players. It didn't help us to keep going. Soccer is like that sometimes. We win and sometimes we lose.”
DALLAS CUP OPENED ON HIGH NOTE
Anticipation for the Dallas Cup builds through the year and finally just pops on opening day with the Opening ceremonies and Stadium games.
FC Dallas’ U18 Academy team got it right from the beginning, toppling FC Barcelona 3-1 in the first Dallas Cup Super Group game at Pizza Hut Park.
Striker Jonathon Top gained scored the game’s first marker in the 23rd minute. That opened the door and Jose Perez stepped right through for Dallas nine minutes later on an opportunistic goal after a Barcelona defensive blunder. FCD carried the 2-0 lead into halftime and buried Barcelona’s hopes with a Daniel Garcia goal 10 minutes into the second frame.
Barcelona avoided a shutout with a late goal by David Babunski.