Dallas Cup: News from Monday's action

FRISCO, Texas -- Jose Hernandez is just fine being the smallest player on Arizona’s No. 1-ranked Under-16 soccer team.

The 5-2, 115-pound Hernandez, an attacking center midfielder, scored a pair of goals --one with each foot -- on Monday.

The result was a 6-0 victory for FC Phoenix over United Arab Emirates Precor U16 in a Dallas Cup preliminary-round match at FC Dallas soccer complex.

“I guess I wouldn’t mind growing a couple of inches,’’ said Hernandez, who gives up a half-foot to most opponents, “but no more than that.

“There’s good and bad about being small. The good is I’m quick and I can get past defenders and go places where a big man can’t. The bad is headers. I don’t get too many. And sometimes I get bodied out when other teams play physical. But that’s okay. I can deal with that.’’

Both of Hernandez’ goals against Precor came in the first half, helping FC Phoenix improve to 2-0 in Bracket G and 57-4 for the season. Penalty kicks have decided three of the team’s losses. In nine tournaments, FC Phoenix has won seven and lost in the finals in the other two.

Hernandez grew up as the smallest player on his teams and is used to the role.

He gets inspiration by watching Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

“I love how he plays,’’ Hernandez said.

WELCOME ABOARD: Matthew Olmos turned out to be a welcome addition for the U17 PAC Tigres of San Jose, Calif.

On board for only a week, the import from Fresno scored a pair of goals from close range in Monday’s 4-2 preliminary-round win over United Arab Emirates Precor U17, helping the Tigres improve to 2-0 in Bracket C.

“In the past I’ve played against the Tigres,’’ said the 5-6, 135-pound left winger, who usually plays for Merced Atlas. “They’ve always impressed me with their talent and their desire to win. When they called and asked me about playing, I was ready. It’s a good bunch of guys.’’

Both of Olmos’ goals came from his dominant left foot.

The Tigres were the only non-Academy team to advance to the semifinals in their age group at last year’s Dallas Cup.


SHUTOUT A SWEET REWARD: For Jared Rice, a center back for Dallas Texans USSF U15/16 Academy, holding an opponent scoreless is his personal version of scoring a goal.

The Texans defeated AC Bethesda from Bethesda, Maryland 2-0 on Monday to improve to 2-0 in the U17 Bracket H.

“I don’t get many chances to score, but it feels great to get a shutout,’’ said Rice, a 6-1 sophomore at Plano Clark High School. “That was a good team we played today and they’re older than us, too.’’

Against Bethesda, Rice said the Texans played a zone defense. Occasionally, they will mark man-to-man if an opponent proves difficult to handle.

Bethesda, which played to a 1-1 draw on Sunday, is without forward Nicko Corriveau for three weeks because of illness. Corriveau, a junior at Gonzaga College High School, has committed to Virginia.

Rice, captain of the Texans, is playing in his fourth Dallas Cup. His team won its age division in his very first Dallas Cup.


COACHES ON THE LOOKOUT: Because the Dallas Cup draws so many skilled junior players, it figures that college coaches turn out in large numbers each year, too.

It isn’t hard to spot them. They carry a backpack, a fold-up chair and wear some article of clothing sporting the school’s name. A notebook is never far out of reach if the need arises to scribble down a number when a player does something to catch their eye. They tend to gather near the end lines, away from the rooting spectators.

Over 150 college coaches attended the tournament in 2011.

To make their jobs easier, many teams distribute a team program filled with all kind of player information a coach would need.

Antti Laitinen, men’s assistant coach at the University of Central Florida, said the Dallas Cup is one of five junior tournaments he attends annually.

“The quality of the teams is here because the academy teams are allowed,’’ Laitinen said.

With only 9.9 scholarships at the program’s disposal, the more information that can be gained first hand is important.

Laitinen said he was “pretty disappointed’’ with the level of play of the American juniors in last year’s Dallas Cup. “But it looks like this year is better,’’ he added.

NOTES -- Tuesday’s preliminary-round schedule in the U17 and U16 divisions is much lighter with only five combined matches. Following the final day of qualifying on Wednesday, knockout matches begin on Friday in the quarterfinal round. ... After a hot start, Dallas area teams cooled off in the U17 and U16 divisions on Monday, going a combined 4-7-1.