Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Elite players' decisions to pass on soccer academies give McKinney Boyd boys an added boost
MCKINNEY — The Dallas area is loaded with soccer talent, so there are several teams with the ingredients for a run at a state title. But what might separate the McKinney Boyd boys team is that all its ingredients are staying in the high school mix.
This is the second season that elite boys players are forced to decide whether to play for their high school team or one of the nine developmental academy teams in Texas. The U.S. Soccer Federation, which has 80 developmental academy teams across the nation, decided it didn’t want players missing practice time with the academies.
No more doubling up. One or the other.
“Academy is more of a college showcase, but playing high school soccer my sophomore and junior year was huge,” said senior midfielder Raul Serrano, an all-district selection last year. “I didn’t want to miss out on the relationships and experiences I can have this year, so I chose high school.”
Senior defender Dillon Farrell formerly played for the Andromeda academy team, but dropped off it when he was forced to choose before his junior season. He and Serrano now play for FC Dallas 95 Premier, which is separate from the FC Dallas academy team.
“I loved high school soccer so much. I had a ton of fun,” said Farrell, who was the District 10-5A Defender of the Year as a junior. “I had these great guys around me.”
This year, those guys include all-district defender William Wiginton and 10-5A Midfielder of the Year Sewell Yost, another member of FC Dallas 95 Premier. They helped Boyd finish 18-6-2 last year and advance to the 5A regional quarterfinals.
“We have the tools,” Farrell said. “It just comes down to us getting it done.”
Boyd’s final loss last year came to Jesuit, which is dealing with a different kind of loss. Coach Charles DeLong said five Jesuit students have chosen to play academy and two others withdrew from the school to play full time with their academy teams. Coppell lost five to academy teams. Many of the other top high school teams have lost two, including Southlake Carroll, which won the 5A title in 2011.
Last year was the first time since 2002 that an area boys team didn’t qualify for the 4A or 5A title game, and it’s probably no coincidence. Four of Texas’ nine academy teams — Andromeda, Dallas Texans, FC Dallas and Solar Chelsea — are in the Dallas area.
It can be a tough decision for elite soccer players. Playing for academy teams gives them greater exposure to college recruiters and a better chance at playing for the national team. But top high school players still have a chance to play college. Serrano is orally committed to Messiah College in Pennsylvania, and Yost, Farrell and forward Ryan Trayner are committed to Ouachita Baptist in Arkansas.
Wiginton has decided not to play college soccer, but he’s happy that his final season will feature a team with all its key players. It certainly puts Boyd in the mix for its first boys state soccer title.
“I knew if we had all our players, and the potential academy players,” Wiginton said, “that we could make a state run.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter at @mattwixon.