The Dallas Cup is the most prestigious youth soccer tournament in the United States and it is widely regarded as one of the most competitive in the world. Dallas Cup was founded by the Texas Longhorns Soccer Club in 1980 as a way for the club to return the friendship shown to their teams that had traveled throughout Europe.
Held every spring during Easter Week, the invitation-only Dallas Cup selects the best teams out of the hundreds of qualified applications the tournament receives each year. Although there have been several iterations over the years to the format, Dallas Cup is currently comprised of nine age groups in the Boys category from U-12 through U-19, including the prestigious U-19 Gordon Jago Super Group, and four age groups in the Girls category from U-16 through U-19. The tournament traditionally consists of approximately 40% international teams, 40% state-side teams and 20% Dallas area teams. Each year more than 100,000 spectators watch teams from all over the world participating in intense games where only the best return home with the Dallas Cup Champion’s prize, the coveted Boot and Ball trophy.
St. Thomas More (ENG)
The long list of players that have gone on to have professional and international careers is an impressive one. A partial alumni list includes the likes of David Beckham, Clint Dempsey, Chicharito, Landon Donovan, Raul, Andrea Pirlo, Michael Bradley, and Wayne Rooney, as well as rising stars like Alphonso Davies, Bukayo Saka, Weston McKennie, and Mason Greenwood. In fact, Dallas Cup alumni have gone on to play in over 500 World Cup matches.
Tigres (MEX) vs. Liverpool (ENG)
In order to attract the best teams from around the world, it is important to have the best referees. The tournament has partnered with referee academies throughout the world enabling Dallas Cup to attract referees with pedigrees that include matches for the English Premier League, Major League Soccer, UEFA Tournaments and even World Cup games. In 2019, in addition to numerous young up-and-coming officials from across the globe, Dallas Cup had over 30 FIFA referees officiate the tournament.
But Dallas Cup is more than just an elite competition; it also focuses on culture exchange through its Dallas Is Diversity and Peace Team programs. One unique program is the Dallas Cup Home Stay program. Local teams that qualify for the tournament agree to host players from an international team and provide these international players room and board during the tournament. There is no cost to those taking part in the Dallas Cup Home Stay Program. Another program is the Peace Team initiatives which have formed teams comprised of young Palestinian/Israeli, Catholic/Protestant or Iraqi boys in hopes of building an understanding that will transcend the playing field. The benefits of such cross culture exposure are unlimited. Players disregard social, ethnic, religious or economic prejudices and walk away making friends for life through the love of the beautiful game.
In addition to the ongoing cultural exchange, Dallas Cup participants also learn important life lessons with visits to children’s hospitals, advocacy centers, schools, and homeless shelters. The local economic impact of Dallas Cup is estimated to be $38 million.