FRISCO, Texas - The US Men's National Team is on to the knockout stage of the World Cup, and North Texas is well-represented for the Stars and Stripes.
Chris Hayden, FC Dallas's VP of Youth Soccer, has overseen the program's development into one of the best in Major League Soccer.
Little Elm's Weston McKennie, Plano's Kellyn Acosta, and McKinney's Jesus Ferreira all came through the FC Dallas Youth Academy.
"It's really validation for all the investment the club has put in to kids for a very long time. A lot of times you don't reap the benefits of that until much, much later so this moment where we have a number of our players, Dallas-based kids, playing at the World Cup at the largest competition in the world is fantastic," said Hayden.
7 former academy players were selected for the USMNT during qualifying for the World Cup.
"I think what it really speaks to is the opportunity for a lot of the players coming behind them and for those players to really believe in what is possible," he added.
Hayden says he could always tell the Dallas-based World Cup players were talented, but sometimes it takes more than just talent.
"I think what we noticed is not only did they have talent, but they had character and they had great habits. When you have players that are that type of people, you know how they are off the field really does affect what they can become on the field," Hayden said.
The World Cup is coming to North America in 2026, with games in North Texas. Hayden is hopeful there will be more players from DFW on the pitch.
"We have so much talent in our academy right now. We are investing in kids as young as 8, 9, 10 years old. For us to see a lot of players at those ages just reinforces the fact of what is possible." Hayden said. "I don't think it's possible, I think it is probable that we will continue to develop young players to our first team and those players will represent the US at the youth international level and subsequently the full men's national team and will play in full World Cups to come."
"I think we will continually be a club that will supply players to the national team for international competition moving forward."