Dallas Cup, the oldest and most prestigious international youth soccer tournament in the United States, often has its alumni shine on the sport’s biggest stages. The UEFA Champions League semi-final matches kick off this week and several Dallas Cup alumni will once again be in the spotlight for their respective teams.
RB Leipzig squares off against Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday in the first of the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in Lisbon.
RB Leipzig is led by first-year manager Julian Nagelsmann, who has continued to take the Bundesliga and the world of soccer by storm. The tactical genius, 33, will become the youngest manager in history to coach in a Champions League semi-final. The former German Football Manager of the Year has continued to call the right shots for the young Leipzig side, who is one of the biggest surprises of the 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League. Nagelsmann coached Hoffenheim in the 2015 Dallas Cup Super Group before being promoted to manager of the club’s senior-team shortly after returning from Dallas.
Julian Nagelsmann coached the U19 Hoffenheim side at the 2015 Dallas Cup
Although he will not be in net for the PSG side due to a hamstring injury, Keylor Navas had a successful Champions League campaign and he is a big reason the French side made it this far. The Costa Rican keeper collected five clean sheets and made 21 saves on 26 attempts during PSG’s Champions League run. Navas played in the 2006 Dallas Cup with the U19 Deportivo Saprissa side.
The second semi-final match will be played on Wednesday between Bayern Munich and Lyon.
Bayern Munich features two Dallas Cup alumni in their lineup: Ivan Perišić (2001, HNK Hajduk) and Alphonso Davies (2015, Edmonton Strikers). Croatian forward Ivan Perišić has scored three goals during Bayern’s historic Champions League campaign, including a goal in their most recent 8-2 thrashing over FC Barcelona. At the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Perišić became the first Dallas Cup alumnus to score in a World Cup final. 19-year-old phenom Alphonso Davies has burst onto the scene as one of the most dynamic young players in world soccer. Davies collected a dazzling assist in their quarterfinal match against Barcelona and continues to be an electric playmaker down the wing for Bayern Munich.
Ligue 1 side Lyon looks to keep their Champions League magic going coming off a 3-1 upset over Manchester City in the quarterfinals. Moussa Dembele, who played in the 2014 Dallas Cup with Fulham, was the difference maker in the match. After subbing into the match in the 75th minute, the Frenchman quickly made a difference, netting the go-ahead goal minutes later. In the 87th minute, Dembele bagged his brace to put the game out of reach. If Lyon needs another spark on Wednesday, manager Rudi Garcia will likely turn to the young Dallas Cup alum to get some momentum started.
Moussa Dembele played for Premier League side Fulham at the 2014 Dallas Cup
Year after year, past Dallas Cup participants continue to turn heads in world soccer. The UEFA Champions League semi-finals will offer a glimpse at some of the tournament’s past talent and it will be exciting to see which of our esteemed alumni earn the right to compete in the final next weekend.