FC Dallas downs Austin Bold 1-0

After spending some time away from home, FC Dallas played their first 2020 match at Toyota Stadium in a friendly against Austin Bold FC. The game was broken down into 3, 30-minute periods with 5 minutes breaks in between. Nearly the entire roster was on display for fans who braved the cooler weather and impending rain in Frisco.  After 90 minutes of play, only one goal was scored that saw Luchi Gonzalez and his team come away with a win.

Fafa Picault during training. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Lineups

First Period

From the first whistle, the play was more vertical than it was in 2019. The emphasis was on playing from the back and making combinations up the field to create serious goalscoring chances. Thiago Santos got his first start in Frisco as he continues to become more acclimated to his new team and “Luchi Ball.” Edwin Cerrillo played higher up in the field as Luchi Gonzalez looked to push and test the versatility of his young midfielder. The play was balanced with the first squad and there was a sense of calmness and fluidity. Zdenek Ondrasek scored the lone goal of the match after Reggie Cannon played through ball to Michael Barrios who crossed the ball to the charging Ondrasek who scored off a backheel flick.

Second Period

The second group of players are those looking to challenge for starting spots and consistent substitutes. Kyle Zobeck substituted in for Jimmy Maurer at the 45th-minute mark. Ricardo Pepi started as the striker and was later subbed for Cal Jennings. Dante Sealy came for Thiago Santos as he played right-wing moving Fafa Picault out to the left-wing. During this period is when the game became more physical and open for both teams.

Third Period

Eddie Munjoma made his first appearance at Toyota Stadium playing right-back which moved Bryan Reynolds to left-back. Derek Waldeck came in for Reynolds during the final period as Waldeck finished the game playing left-back. John Nelson moved into a 6-role, displaying his versality on the pitch. By the end of this period, the FC Dallas defense was looking to secure the clean sheet as the match finished 1-0.

 

Thoughts & Takeaways

Varying levels of quality were on display with each period and lineup that FC Dallas put on the field. The first group consisted mostly of veteran players and starts that many expect to be regular contributors to the team, except for injuries.

Jimmy Maurer took the first 45 minutes and put on a solid display well called up. Like Maurer, Kyle Zobeck had little to do but did perform when needed. Jesse Gonzalez was missing while dealing with a family matter.

Callum Montgomery has shown that his year with North Texas Soccer Club has raised his quality of play. John Nelson similarly was effective along the left-flank and displayed his versatility and put in a solid shift at the 6-position. Nkosi Burgess‘ passing and calmness along the backline has improved from the beginning of the season and he became more and more comfortable as the match wore one.

Bryan Reynolds was a level above his competition with his speed, technical ability, and defensive abilities and is looking to be a more than suitable backup to Reggie Cannon. Eddie Munjoma had a quite shift and showed some nerves, but his potential and talent were evident and should be a great player to watch grow over the season. Similarly, Derek Waldeck got limited minutes and action that arguably wasn’t enough time to make any solid conclusions.

The backline of Cannon, Bressan, Ziegler, and Hollingshead played with unity and strength that is expected of these more senior players. Bressan was a vocal leader as he assisted fellow Brazilian Thiago Santos with instructions and positioning on the field.

Santos displayed calmness on and off the ball and did well to shield the backline. Santos still is getting used to how his role fits with the rest of the team, but the Brazilian is giving many to believe that his experience in the midfield will be valuable over the course of the season.

“Thiago is an important player and in a short amount of time, he has shown very positive human characteristics,” Gonzalez spoke of his midfielder. “I did video with him and he was like a student and this is a guy with a very important career in Brazil. To come here to our club and to be open so early on is really great and he is a leader in that way. We need to get him fit and he needs the minutes against San Antonio.”

Edwin Cerrillo took on a role higher up in the field and didn’t have his best game, but the experience was more than valuable.

“I’m trying to be more versatile and put the team first,” Cerrillo said after the match. “Whatever Luchi wants me to play I try my best and learn a new position. It’s a position that I played in the Academy for a little bit so it’s not too new for me but last year while playing 6, it’s kinda weird being high up in the field like that. I’m learning on the job and I work hard in whatever position I need to be.”

Thomas Roberts was a level above his competition as he was extremely calm on and off the ball, dodged challenges, and played some remarkable passes to create goalscoring opportunities.

“I really didn’t play a lot with the first team [in 2019] but I feel like I took some experience away [with North Texas Soccer Club],” Roberts explained. “I felt a lot more confident with the guys and I’m trying to work on my leadership roles especially with the younger guys and some of the new guys. I felt really good out there.”

Ema Twumasi got some time both on the wing and midfield. While his touch and dribbling were heavy at times, he did have some moments where he connected with teammates to create scoring opportunities. Jesus Ferreria looked right at home and playing just underneath Ondrasek and had a solid performance.

Dante Sealy displayed his potential and make efforts to impact the game. Gather more minutes and experience will only help his game truly bring out his full skill set that lead to his homegrown contract. Santiago Mosquera was trying hard to make an impact on the match. Given his competition with Fafa Picault, this match was an opportunity for him to win the starting left-wing role.

Fafa Picault has started to get more and more comfortable with each passing minute he gets on the field with his teammates. He is proving to be a nice compliment on the left side of the pitch to Michael Barrios.

“I’m starting to know what the guys’ strengths and weaknesses are,” Picault told the media. “It’s going to take some time, I just got here two weeks ago. There are things that I want to add to the team and help on the offensive end and defensive side. It takes a little bit of time but I definitely see it coming along.”

Michael Barrios played a simple game and did well to combine with Cannon as his combination play lead to the cross on Ondrasek’s goal. Other than his goal, Zdenek Ondrasek kept the Austin Bold backline occupied by looking for space to occupy and score.

Ricardo Pepi appeared in his element and was calm throughout his shift which demonstrates his growth from last season. Pepi appeared less frantic with the ball at his feet and he already knew what his play was going to be before receiving the ball. His mental growth from last season will be a big part of his success in 2020.

Cal Jennings worked hard to pressure the Austin Bold defense which like Maxi Urruti’s hustle. Jennings got himself in scoring position and made runs and he also grew in confidence as the match wore on.

Other News

Injuries

It was mentioned before the match that Jesse Gonzalez was absent due to a family matter and Bryan Acosta was out will an illness. Coach Gonzalez talked about how he hoped to have Paxton Pomykal (core muscle repair recovery) and Matt Hedges (quad) integrated with the team soon while Brandon Servania (knee strain) will be out for a couple of weeks.

“We got some knocks with Matt, Pax, Servania,” Gonzalez explained. “I think that Matt will be with us by the end of the week hopefully. Pax, we will push for that as well and if not by the beginning of next week. Servania will be out with a few weeks with an MCL sprain. Nothing too serious but the guys can bounce back from.”

Acclimation Period

There is always an acclimation period with new players and such is the case with the FC Dallas draft picks and transfers. Thiago Santos is getting used to life in the United States while Fafa Picault is becoming more familiar with his new home. While new to the team, both, players have been professional regarding the change of the environment and have gotten help from their own teammates.

“Thiago is shy but he doesn’t play like he’s shy,” Gonzalez said with a chuckle. “His personality and the way he plays is great to have a patriot with Bressan helping him. Portuguese is similar to Spanish so he’s understanding things when we talk in Spanish. Every team has there diversity and its a global game so it’s all about us speaking the same soccer language.”

Chula Vista

FC Dallas has returned from their trip out to Chula Vista where they faced the San Diego Loyal SC and Vancouver Whitecaps before playing LAFC at Banc of California Stadium. This trip allowed players to get to know one another and take advantage of a warmer and stable climate that the Olympic training center had to offer.

“Beautiful facilities, beautiful weather, great field, good exhibition games early, and good tests for us early,” Gonzalez said about their California trip. “We need those tests. I feel like last preseason we didn’t get these tests early enough and I feel that we are being tested early on and it helps us grow.”

FC Dallas will head down I-35 to play against San Antonio FC and finish their preseason with a trip out to Florida where they will play two matches against Philadelphia Union and Inter Miami.

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