Eclipse Soccer Club is
pipeline to Dynamo Academy
soccer players in southeast Texas, the road to a possible professional
career begins at the Houston Dynamo Academy – the Major League Soccer
club’s youth development program that is designed to identify top local
But for a
growing number of Academy players, it is Eclipse Soccer Club that
provides the “golden ticket” to the opportunities that the Dynamo
has been a real pipeline of talent to the Houston Dynamo Academy,” says
Luis Labastida, boys director of training for Eclipse Soccer Club. “We
have an excellent relationship with the Dynamo Academy staff and we’re
always looking to recommend players who have the potential to take their
game to the next level.”
more than 25 former Eclipse Soccer Club players have been involved with
the Dynamo Academy’s U-16 and U-18 teams. Several more have been
selected to train with the Junior Academy for younger players. Many of
those athletes were introduced to the Academy by members of the Eclipse
has been fantastic about welcoming the Dynamo Academy to the youth
soccer community here in Houston, and the club is always quick to give
us the opportunity to evaluate players with potential,” says James
Clarkson, Dynamo director of youth development. “It’s not easy to let
good players move on but Eclipse recognizes the value of a strong
relationship with the Academy. We’re appreciative of support we receive
Houston Dynamo Academy was formed in 2007 to find and develop the best
youth talent in the region. Players selected for the Academy
train four days per week in a
professional environment and compete in the United States Soccer
Federation Development Academy league, the most competitive youth league
in the country.
The Academy provides professional-level
training, the opportunity to work with the Dynamo first team and a wide
range of other benefits, including academic tutoring and connections
with college coaches. The ultimate goal, of course, is to find players
who can eventually sign with the first team and play for the Dynamo in
Major League Soccer.
For Labastida, the opportunity to identify
and promote talent to the Dynamo Academy is a real plus for Eclipse.
“Some clubs in the area are not as willing
as Eclipse to recommend their top players to the Academy,” he says.
“But we see it as a real ‘win-win’ situation. It’s great for the
player, and it’s good for Eclipse, too, since it shows that we always
look out for the best interests of our players.
“Having multiple players move up to the
Academy is evidence of the level of training we provide at Eclipse and
it demonstrates the quality of our club. We are taking
players through their entire development process, from the youngest ages
to U-18. And if the player is capable of playing at a higher
level, we can help him achieve his goal.
One example of a player
taking this “path to success” is goalkeeper Fernando Pina, who moved
from Eclipse to the Dynamo Academy before being selected for the U.S.
U17 National Team and a spot in the prestigious national residency
program in Bradenton, Fla.
“Fernando’s story is just
one of the successes we’ve had with young players moving to the Dynamo
Academy,” says Labastida. “There are a number of former Eclipse players
who have benefited from the visibility the Academy provides to earn
scholarships to play soccer in college and even join the professional
For example, goalkeeper Pat Wall, who
recently signed a letter of intent to play at University of Notre Dame,
was able to train with the Dynamo senior team throughout the summer of
2009 after joining the Academy. He remains in the Dynamo’s protective
player system, which means the club will have the first rights to sign
him to a Major League Soccer contract when he leaves college.
Jorge Escobar joined the Dynamo Academy when
it first opened, and played there for two seasons. Escobar is now
playing professional soccer in Honduras for Club Deportivo Motagua.”