DALLAS — The path to the World Cup appears to go through North Texas. Three players on the U.S. Men's National Team were part of the FC Dallas Youth Academy.
Jesus Ferreira, Kellyn Acosta and Weston McKennie have all been a part of the youth program and are now in Qatar representing the country.
"The message is real. It's not just what's possible, it's what is probable; kids see real examples of kids succeeding," said coach Chris Hayden, vice president of youth soccer through FC Dallas.
All three players have local ties beyond the program, as well. They all still have family living in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Ferreira joined his dad, David, as the first father-son combination in the MLS and both played for FC Dallas.
"Jesus came here as an 8 years old. It's really unique to have a father and son had been team MVPs on one MLS team," said Hayden.
Midfielder Acosta lived just minutes from Frisco growing up. Kenneth Acosta, his father, is now in Qatar watching his son play in the World Cup.
"He's on a high and we all are too," said Kenneth Acosta. "He's so nice and well mannered. He gets on the field and he's in players' faces. He's so intense."
"He's got that charm that charisma about him, he's gotta little swagger," said Tina McKennie, Weston's mother.
Tina is also in Qatar and has had a roller coaster week. It started with learning Weston had made the team and then to organizing travel plans to get to Qatar.
Individually, they've made their names professionally with their own clubs both nationally and internationally.
Ferreira, Acosta and McKennie hope to make history this week on the national team. The first match against Wales was not the desired result, but they look to rebound in their Friday match against England.
"They're going to surprise a lot of people," said Tina.
They have all made it big while also making us proud. This week a lot of DFW will be watching from the places that prepared them.
"All of [their] development happened here," said Hayden.