Three squads (U17, U18, U19) from Liverpool Football College are competing in one of the world’s most prestigious youth soccer tournaments; the Dallas Cup. The 54 boys are having a fantastic time in the USA. Here are some of the highlights
Friday 23rd March
After a light session in the morning the players spent time with their homestay families,getting to know them and relaxing. The coaching staff were focused on preparing for the training session on Saturday and the start of the tournament.
Saturday 24th March
All three squads trained at a local college with their coaches leading short sessions. The boys focused on stretching, some gentle cardio work and finished with work on set pieces and patterns of play ahead the opening games on Sunday.
Sunday 25th March
Game Day 1
The U19’s were first up with a 9.30am kick off facing Dallas Texans at MoneyGram Park.
The coach Harrison’s team performed really well with Makin putting the side 1-0 up at half time. The team withstood some early pressure from the Texans before Lewis doubled their lead. After that it was a matter of managing the game and ensuring as many players as possible got game time. With a hectic schedule over the next week it is very much a squad effort and rotating players is essential whenever possible.
All the staff were delighted to see one of our Dallas based fans Bashir and his son Luis attend the game. They have been watching us in Dallas every year and the support we get from locals is much appreciated.
Our U18’s kicked off at 11.30am on MoneyGram Park facing MLS FC Dallas Youth. A tough test faced our boys but they performed admirably. After a slightly shaky start the boys settled into the games and dominated long periods of the first half with the impressive Clegg, Moyers and Speed standing out. The dominance was rewarded when Liam Lindon grabbed a goal in the second half. Sayle and Jenkins-Burke were introduced to freshen things up by coach Blayney. Goalkeeper Hancocks pulled off a few outstanding saves to deny the Dallas side which boosted his confidence. A few half-chances were not converted and FC Dallas persistence gained them a late equaliser. The game ended 1-1 but was a real encouraging performance from the boys against a strong team.
Final game of our day was the U17’s v Westside Alliance (Miami) at 1.30pm. After a tense start the U17’s started to find their rhythm. Windle finished a nice exchange of passes to give coach Rowe’s side the lead midway through the first half. The notorious Dallas winds then picked up disrupting the flow of the game with passes going astray. In the second half the boys adapted quickly to the conditions and Corness latched onto a through ball to double Liverpool’s advantage. Further goals flowed with Lewis Wilkinson and Beckwith getting on the scoresheet. A great start by our youngest group of players in Dallas with some fine individual performances with Ozlu and Woods composed at the back giving Windle and Beckwith the opportunity to express themselves going forward.
Our squads attended the USA 1994 World Cup Stadium, the Cotton Bowl, for the Dallas Cup Opening Ceremony. Full of colour, music, teams from around the world, fans and of course, the Cheerleaders, it is always a spectacular event and puts into perspective a truly global occasion. Our squads were presented to the 25,000 fans in the stadium before Manchester United U19’s played Mexican outfit, Tigres.
Monday 26th March
Game Day 2
Our U18’s were first game at 10.00am at Richland College facing top Florida outfit Asces Coral Soccer Club. The Liverpool youngsters started the game well and were rewarded when a Kurt Pearson free-kick went in, quickly followed by a fine strike from pacy frontman David McDonnell. Our two goal lead was halved when the Florida club scored from a set piece. This energised our opponents and they applied some pressure with Hancock, once again, displaying fine reflexes. Clegg broke play up in the midfield and sprung a counter attack with McDonnell and Pearson linking up before Pearson applied a dink it over the opposition keeper and set off in wild celebration. It was all one way traffic now and it seems inevitable another goal would arrive and it did with Catterson finishing another fine move. A great result for coach Blayney’s side, who now head into the final group game in confident mood.
The 12.00pm kick off saw our U17’s face New Jersey’s, TSF Academy. One of the top ranked sides in the bracket coach Rowe’s players were ready for a tough game. Both teams started the contest well playing on the front foot. The passing exchanges sharp, showing both teams were keen to take the initiative in the game. Liverpool Football College took the lead with their first real chance as Harrison Woods clinically converted. Next to score was the highly rated Corness, with his second goal of the tournament. These strikes seemed to take the wind out of the New Jersey youngsters’ sails and half time was reached with the young Liverpudlians in control. The second half was once again affected by the wind but it didn’t stop Windle grabbing his second goal of the Dallas Cup. Liverpool managed the game well into the final stages saving energy for the forthcoming tests.
Final game of the day at 2.00pm saw coach Harrison’s U19 side play Crecenta Valley (Oklahoma). The side winds affected their normal passing game and Crescenta went ahead from a corner mid-way in the first half. This never affected Harrison’s charges, who kept trying to impose their game. Just after the half time break James Webb turned the ball in the net to score his first goal for the College. Their confidence grew in the second half as lively forward, Campbell, nodded home from close range to give the Liverpool side the lead. Luke Wilson-Jones added a third in added time to make it 6 points heading into the final game full of confidence.
Tuesday 27th March
A rest day for our boys and a chance to sample American life with some of the boys visiting local schools, shopping malls and watching their host families children play for their teams in the Dallas Cup. It was also a chance for massages for those feeling tired and refuel, taking on plenty of fluids to ensure their body is ready for the next games. Our coaches took the opportunity to go and watch some of our forthcoming opponents in their group games.
In the evening some staff and players were fortunate to attend the friendly game at the AT & T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys for an international friendly between Mexico and Croatia. The stadium was described by coach McGrattan as one of the most amazing he had been to in the world.
Wednesday 28th March
Due to adverse weather most of Wednesday’s games were postponed until Thursday, which left our squads without a game. It gave our coaches opportunity to work with the boys in a light training session.
Once their work out had finished they headed to ‘Downtown’ Dallas to visit the John F. Kennedy Assassination site at Dealey Plaza. Our students described the eerie feeling around the Grassy Knoll and were fascinated to hear of all the conspiracy theories surrounding the President’s death.