FC Dallas News, Notes, and Practice Observations for October 10 – playoff prep

FC Dallas Training
FC Dallas training. (10-10-19)(Buzz Carrick / 3rd Degree)

Oh, thank goodness. Fall is here. 76 degrees when training kicks off at roughly 9 am with just a tiny drizzle just beforehand to wet the grass. It’s overcast most of the session but the sun does peek out about 30 minutes before the end.

News and Notes

Reggie Cannon is with the US Men’s National Team so Kevin Bonilla from the FCD Academy U19s and North Texas SC is invited to take part in first-team training.

Bryan Acosta is with Honduras. There’s no replacement for him in training.

Zdenek Ondrasek is with the Czech National Team. He seems to be having the time of his life.

Jimmy Maurer and Bryan Reynolds both trained with North Texas SC today. That leads me to believe they are going to be playing with NTX this weekend.

FC Dallas is installing a set of cameras in its complex around fields 1 to 4. That’s the first team training field, the Dr. Pink Stadium, and the two grass fields just north. The cameras are going to be interfaced into a computer network and coaches will be able to log in with a tablet during training and playback video of what just occurred as a teaching tool for players. The video will be used for post training/scrimmage/game analysis as well.

Ricardo Pepi is still in town and has not yet left to join the US U17s.

Dom Badji is missing, presumably rehabbing his quad. He also made an appearance at Burnet Elementary where he was named a Principal for a Day.

The FC Dallas Academy U15s and U17s are going to be in Denver this weekend – where it’s currently 25 degrees and snowing – for some regional GA Cup qualifiers. They face Vancouver Whitecaps on Friday, LAFC on Saturday, and Houston Dynamo on Monday. There will also be a spring set of games against some of the other MLS clubs. Performance in these regional GA events determines what bracket FCD will be in, come the primary GA Cup in April.

Ema Twumasi and Francis Atuahene are both still with Austin Bold. Moises Hernandez remains with San Antonio FC. Dante Sealy remains with North Texas SC.

Practice Observations

Coach Luchi Gonzalez and his staff for almost every training session use a buildup drill method on a particular focus point. Today, for example, was lateral group defensive movement in front of attackers. Keeping the offense in front of the team shape. It starts with a single-player drill; adds in two, then three players; and finally moves to a larger or full field where the concept is integrated into play.

Santiago Mosquera remains in lethal form. I really hope this continues.

Edwin Gyasi had a moment where he looked really bright and interesting in a drill. “Oh, that’s nice,” I thought for maybe the first time ever watching him. Then he preceded to back that up with multiple moments of poor play and it was back to normal in my mind.

There was a big smile on Paxton Pomykal’s face when told him congratulations after training. We chatted for just a moment as I waited for Coach Gonzalez. I think Pomykal’s quite happy to be here.

Bressan spent a lot of time at right back today with Cannon gone and Reynolds with North Texas SC.

Johnny Nelson hits a pretty dang nice lefty cross.

Callum Montgomery spent some extra time staying out after everyone else working on heading crosses.

Michael Barrios spent a little time as a 10 today, kind of an off-striker look, making penetrating runs off a high striker. That’s more of the style of Jesus Ferreira than a traditional 10.

Catching up with Luchi Gonzalez

Seattle historically has been a difficult place for FC Dallas. There’s only one win there since they came into MLS. Why is it so difficult to play there?

Obviously, it’s great support there. So there’s an emotional and mental piece that drives those players to not disappoint at home. And that’s normal. That organization is doing a great job to put those players in that type of environment to get the result.

But in the preseason, we beat them 2-1 in Tucson and in the regular season we beat them at home. And we tied them away. So I know there’s history. There’s history both ways. And yeah, the history of them in playoffs is a strong history, but I said it earlier this week history’s there to change and we’re going to believe we can change it.

It seems like that’s been the theme of the things you said. What do you want the guys to get from you saying “we gotta change history.”

Over the course of time, a year, two years, three years… I know the history is going to change. It’s a matter of when and not if. But we have to do it in a way that it’s believing that we can change it right now. Today.

If we think, “Oh well, we’ll change. But next year it’ll change.” No next year’s too late. Let’s change right now. Go for that mentality of the day-to-day change and the day-to-day efforts. Then there’s that long term progress, you know, our journey.

So let’s go, man. This is exciting. We can’t just approach this being happy. We’re not just happy to be here.

I’m getting some questions to earlier in the week “look back at this and reflect on that, and see all the problems.” Like, I don’t have time for that. We don’t have time. That’s a sign of weakness right now.

When the season is officially over there’s going to be a shutdown moment where I have time to reflect and audit so we know where we’re going forward. But that’s not right now.

Let’s take the next step. Let’s climb the next step.

People talk a lot in MLS about how the playoffs are different than the regular season. Can you articulate a little bit for us what the difference is between a playoff atmosphere or game conditions than a regular?

You know the playoffs in our country have a history of, “Oh, this is the second season,” or “winning the regular season is nice but winning the actual Championship you have to be strong in the playoffs.”

So that’s a warning to all teams. That’s a sign for all teams, the teams that had a fantastic regular season that there’s nothing given to them in the playoffs. And the teams that maybe crept in there, didn’t have this perfect regular season. “Hey, you can do something even more special with gaining momentum in the playoffs.” Which we’ve seen in this league.

I still believe there’s no absolute formula for winning a championship in this league. It’s still evolving. It’s still a young league with different types of Champions. That’s the league. It’s the nature of our league.

So with that, the format has changed, again. There’s no home and away. It’s single elimination. Top seed gets the home. This will be interesting this year. It should be interesting to see how that plays out because it’s a one and done. It’s one and done. So, let’s see.

And I’m going to learn all you can learn through this experience.

As Americans we all get playoffs. It’s everything here. Do players from other countries, from other cultures, do they ever occasionally look at these playoffs and think, “What are we doing?”

We joke, we joke, like when we do our small-sided games. We’ll do Liga or a playoff format where you can be a top seed. Like for example yesterday we did a game where the top seed had a bye to the small-sided final and then they lost the final… the second season. So you see it. We talk about it in training, we joke about it in training.

Yeah, it’s different than say overseas or South America, but it’s our culture. It’s our system. We embrace it. I embrace it. I’m American and this is our way and what a beautiful emotional roller coaster ride it is… But it can create some special moments.

So it’s all there for the opportunity grab it.

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