Players participating in the adidas Young Champions under-16 division of the 2015 Dr Pepper Dallas Cup this past spring were vying for more than just the chance to hoist the tournament’s iconic “Boot and Ball” trophy. Scouts from adidas were on hand to select the six players that would represent the United States during the adidas Young Champions International 5v5 tournament in Berlin, Germany during the week of the UEFA Champions League Final. The six players that were selected were David Abonce, Paxton Pomykal, Jackson Ragen, Jommar Reyes, Mark Salas, and Giovanni Vasquez.
The players arrived in Germany several days before the UEFA Champions League Final, where they were treated to a tour of the adidas global headquarters in Herzogenaurach, outside of Nuremberg. After the tour, the players participated in a training session led by Bayern Munich’s U15 Head Coach, Peter Wenninger.
But the trip wasn’t all about soccer. The boys also spent a day being tourists as they explored Berlin’s fascinating history, including a visit to the Berlin Wall and other important historical sites in the city.
Friday was game day, as the six players tested themselves against other players from around the world on a field next to the famous Brandenburg Gate. Coached by Chris Hayden from FC Dallas, the American team performed exceptionally well on the field, taking second place in the tournament only losing to the champions Brazil.
FC Dallas academy player Pomykal was voted the tournament MVP, which earned him a once-in-a-lifetime experience of playing in the Ultimate Champions Match, an all-star game of former World All-Stars taking on former Juventus and Barcelona players. His new teammates, including the likes of Cafu, Davor Suker, Clarence Seedorf, and Steve McManaman, defeated Edwin van der Sar, Marcelo Salas, Edmilson, and Eric Abidal and the rest of the Juventus and Barca legends by a score of 14-12. Pomykal did more than hold his own on a field whose players had combined to win 25 Champions League Medals. His two goal, three assist performance earned him “Man of the Match” honors from his coach, former Manchester United Goalkeeper, Peter Schmeichel.
On the final day of the trip the team attended the UEFA Champions League Final between Barcelona and Juventus at the historic Olympiastadion Berlin, the host stadium of the 1936 Olympics. They were treated to an exciting game, as Barcelona jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. Juventus tied the game shortly after halftime, before Barcelona pulled away for a 3-1 victory.
The Dr Pepper Dallas Cup was proud to be part of these young men’s journey, which has certainly created memories for a lifetime.
The team listens in to instructions from U15 Bayern Munich Head Coach, Peter Wenninger
The team next to the statue of adidas’ founder, Adi Dassler