We know our readers keep up with the Dynamo first team, but the Dynamo Academy has slowly started to creep into the spotlight here in Houston. Bryan Salazar's signing certainly brought some attention to the academy, and it certainly helps that Dynamo legend Eddie Robinson is involved too. If you didn't know, he's the coach of the U-16's.
But those things are more off the field stuff. The on field stuff is even better.
Last week, both Dynamo Academy clubs competed in the preliminary round of the Academy Playoffs, which were held in Frisco, Texas.
Unfortunately, the U-18's who featured Bryan Salazar one last time, were eliminated after losing all three of their matches. Houston lost to PA Classics (0-2), Vancouver Whitecaps (2-5), and Chicago Fire (0-1).
The U-16's on the other hand had a stellar run, including arguably the biggest upset of the tournament.
They were grouped with Concorde Fire, PA Classics, and the defending champion New York Red Bulls. New York followed up their championship season with the best record across the Development Academy. Coming into the playoffs, they had lost only once and conceded only nine goals all season long (while scoring over 80).
The Dynamo and New York picked up victories in their first two games, which set up a big showdown with a spot in Finals Week on the line. The Dynamo had complete control of their fate and would enter the game needing a win to advance due to New York holding an advantage in goal differential.
Control their destiny is exactly what they did.
Against an Academy giant that gave up a measly nine goals over the course of the season, the Dynamo went for the jugular. Standouts Christian Lucatero and Elo Ozumba scored three first half goals to give the underdogs a big 3-0 lead at halftime.
The Dynamo defense held tight and the good guys went on to an impressive 3-1 win, which earned them a spot in Finals Week and a chance to play for the championship.
Lucatero and Ozumba are continuing their already impressive seasons with their playoff performances. The two threats have combined for all eight of the teams goals.
Finals Week Groups Set
The Finals Week groups were announced on Monday and the U-16's will face Texans SC Houston, Real Salt Lake AZ, and Albertson SC. The winner of the group will play for the championship at the end of the week.
Here's a breakdown of the U-16's group and opponents.
Team: Houston Dynamo U-16
Record: 21-5-4 (+33 goal differential)
Players to Watch: Elo Ozumba (25 goals); Christian Lucatero (15 goals)
Team: Texans SC Houston
Record: 19-6-5 (+30 goal differential)
Player to Watch: Bryce Marion (20 goals)
Note: Finished 4th in division, lost to Dynamo twice in regular season
Team: Real Salt Lake AZ
Record: 19-6-6 (+39 goal differential)
Players to Watch: Brooks Lennon (17 goals), Sebastian Saucedo (17 goals)
Notes: Advanced with two wins and a draw, including a 6-3 over FC Dallas
Team: Albertson SC
Record: 17-7-4 (+26 goal differential)
Player to Watch: Arthur Bosua (16 goals)
Notes: Finished 2nd in East Conference in regular season
Dynamo U-16 Schedule
July 14 | 5:30 pm | Dynamo vs Texans SC Houston | HASP - Field 3
July 16 | 8:00 pm | Dynamo vs Real Salt Lake AZ | HASP - Field 2
July 18 | 5:30 pm | Dynamo vs Albertson SC | HASP - Field 5
The Dynamo know Texans SC Houston well as they play in the same division in the Development Academy. In two matches in the regular season, the Dynamo won both games. The first match was in last November with the Dynamo squeaking away with a 1-0 victory. More recently the clubs faced off in April in Tomball and the Dynamo came out on top 4-2. Elo Ozumba and Christian Lucatero each had a brace in that contest, while Bryce Marion had two for the Texans.
Houston hasn't faced the other two opponents this season.
The championship match for both the U-18 Academy clubs and the U-16 will be held on Saturday July 20 at BBVA Compass Stadium.
So let me ask our readers - are you interested in the Dynamo Academy? Considering the start times for the matches, are any of you planning on catching the young stars in action? Let me know!