By Steve Davis
When it comes to naming the influential Major League Soccer (MLS) figures who passed through the Dr Pepper Dallas Cup en route to pro stardom, it might be easier to start with the ones who didn’t participate in Dallas’ acclaimed youth soccer tournament.
Such is the impressive percentage of MLS athletes who participated in the Dr Pepper Dallas Cup – going all the way back to the giants of Major League Soccer’s early years – the likes of Marcelo Balboa, Jeff Agoos and Eric Wynalda. On the other end of the timeline, plenty of emerging MLS personalities – Chivas USA high-scoring striker Erick “Cubo” Torres, Real Salt Lake talented U.S. international Luis Gil and 2014 MLS Rookie of the Year candidate Harry Shipp, to name just three – have all stamped “Dallas Cup” on their resumes.
That Dallas Cup alumni list includes some of the greatest of MLS greats. Marco Etcheverrey, the crafty Bolivian creator who became one of the league’s first real superstars while guiding the D.C. United juggernaut of the late 90s, was a member of the Tahuichi team that once wowed the Dallas Cup crowds.
Jaime Moreno was another Tahuichi product, a participant in the 1990 Dallas Cup. Later he joined that highly successful D.C. United group, which won three of the first four MLS Cups. Moreno would later become the first MLS man to record 100 goals and 100 assists.
Not long after Moreno came through Dallas, a 12-year-old David Beckham played anonymously with the Essex Schools’ team. That was quite a few years before the England captain – by then a global soccer icon – joined the LA Galaxy in 2007. The former England great is easily the most famous man to trap a ball in Major League Soccer.
Who else? Dwayne De Rosario (among the most dynamic attackers in league history) is a Canadian international who won four MLS Cups with San Jose and Houston. He came through the tournament twice, in 1992 with Scarborough United and four years later with the Canadian Soccer Academy.
Speaking of talented Canadian internationals and two-time Dallas Cup participants, Will Johnson was a Dallas Cup youngster before taking his place in midfield for those terrific Real Salt Lake teams, one of which captured an MLS Cup with a memorable win over Beckham’s Galaxy. He played in the 2014 MLS All-Star game in Portland.
Landon Donovan, Major League Soccer’s (and the U.S. national team’s) all-time leading scorer and an LA Galaxy star, hit the game-winner against Bayern Munich in that All-Star match. He was a member of the United States under-17 team that wowed the crowds in the 1999 Dallas Cup. In fact, five of the top six MLS all-time leading scorers are Dallas Cup-exes: Donovan, Moreno, De Rosario, Jason Kreis and Ante Razov.
DaMarcus Beasley, Bobby Convey and Kyle Beckerman, teammates of Donovan’s on that prominent 1999 under-17 bunch, went on to various levels of MLS prominence.
The league’s 2013 MVP, Mike Magee, came through Dallas Cup with Sockers FC out of San Diego. Has the league’s 2014 MVP, to be named later this year, listed himself as a Dallas Cup alum? Seems there’s a reasonable chance of it, at the very least.
The Dr Pepper Dallas Cup is a tournament for serious young athletes who are destined for great things.