FC Dallas Practice Observations: March 11 – Going Viral

Sick sick bit got to have it. Like bustin’ in on a session but you got to call it quits.

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It’s a beautiful day for training, temps max out in the low 80s. The sun is shining and it’s just fantastic to be outside. 

Red Alert: Paxton Pomykal shaved his mustache!  I know you are all crushed. I’m still going to call him the Sundance Kid.

Paxton Pomykal, sans mustache. (Buzz Carrick, 3rd Degree)

News and Notes

Kobra – aka Zdenek Ondrasek – has been missing all week after having a dental procedure.  It’s likely he will miss the game this weekend.

Jimmy Mauer is also missing today with a stomach bug he caught from his kids. He should be ok in a day or two.

Santiago Mosquera got the day off with some muscle fatigue. Physical maintenance matters. I’m confident he will be back by the weekend.

Jesus Ferreira is already with the Olympic team.  Paxton Pomykal and Reggie Cannon are still in FC Dallas training.  More on that from Coach Luchi Gonzalez down below.

Bryan Acosta has returned to training and looks quite good. He was working on fitness while he was out so he seems pretty much ready to go.

Brandon Servania has also returned. He looks full speed too with only some kinesiology Tape on the inside of his knee to show he had an issue.

Dante Sealy, who sometimes trains with North Texas SC, is with FCD today. He’s with the MLS club more often this year.

Gibran Rayo and Carlos Avilez are pulled from NTX into FCD training about 30 minutes into the session for numbers purposes.

Training Observations

Lots of work today on tactics for the weekend with lots of changes in personnel and concepts.  Luchi sure seems to be building up potential tactical variants and personnel options.

Brandon Servania, Bryan Acosta, Edwin Cerrillo, and Tenner Tessmann all got rotations at the deep-8 position.

Paxton Pomykal, Tanner Tessmann, Gibran Rayo, and Bryan Acosta all played the 10-ish position.

Ricardo Pepi, Fafa Picault, and Michael Barrios all took rotations at the 9.

Thomas Roberts, Michael Barrios, Dante Sealy, Fafa Picault, Girban Rayo, and Ricardo Pepi all got time at wing.

Eddie Munjoma is looking much more confident and comfortable. Good progress by the rookie. He even played some center back today.

Paxton Pomykal has so much in common with Bobby Rhine in mentality. He’s such a relentless working, all 100% effort all the time without an off switch.  As he matures he will learn when to push and when to take moments off. That’s part of the wisdom of playing soccer.

Dante Sealy is notably more mature physically. He’s a young man now and not a kid.  He also scorched Reto Ziegler once and got hammered for a PK. This might be an explosive year for this kid.

Tanner Tessmann got a few rotations at center back.  That’s quite intriguing to me as I’ve previously suggested he might make a $10 million center back.  Size, defensive skills, touch, control, wonderful passing, few mistakes, and a savvy young man. All the makings are there.

Thomas Roberts was the last one out working with Assistant Athletic Performance Coach Vander Salas on something using balls.

Covid-19 Impact

It’s interesting to see the impact of the Coronavirus at FC Dallas training with multiple changes that were mandated by the league.

The unofficial change is that no one shakes hands.  It’s all fist or elbow bumps.

The first official change, every player now has their own water bottle with the player’s name on it.

Player specific water bottles at FC Dallas training in response to league protocols about the Covid-19 virus. (Buzz Carrick, 3rd Degree)

Second, all media interviews have to be conducted at arm’s-length + about a foot of space.  Vice President, Media and Communications Gina Miller was on hand (she’s usually not as she has bigger fish to fry) to make sure the new rules were followed.

Which is fine, just awkward.  I found myself talking to Luchi way far away from where I would normally stand.  It feels weird like I’m being standoffish or rude.  I’m not of course, but it’s funny how used I am to social norms and how off-kilter it made me feel. 

Plus, I felt like I was almost yelling at Luchi, which isn’t good if you’re asking a sensitive question.

The team and coaches didn’t stick around long after training as they had a meeting set with a doctor/virus expert to go over conditions and procedures.  I’m glad to see the club taking it seriously.

Catching Up with Luchi Gonzalez

Why was Jesus Ferreira allowed to depart and not Paxton Pomykal and Reggie Cannon?

Honestly, we would have had the most players gone if we’d allowed all three, from a single MLS club. Clubs in Europe are not even releasing their players.

We felt the right compromise – we always support our national teams, we want them to be successful at those levels, that’s important for their development, for our growth as a club.  For me personally, I’m really proud of that. – But it was just a good communication with Jason Kreis and the Federation that Jesus [Ferreira] needs a little more integration [with the U23 team].

Paxton [Pomykal] is coming back from something so he does need the minutes against New York City. And Reggie [Cannon] is a senior national team player. He understands what it’s gonna take.  One week of preparation before the qualifiers is plenty for him.  Those guys will all be together and cleared as soon as New York City’s over.

Tanner Tessmann played pretty deep and pretty conservatively.  Was that still a single pivot or were you using him as a double pivot with Santos?

No, more a double. More double-pivot. Help Santos in the build. Help him defensively. So Tanner’s role was… You know, I would say in the moment of the game in the build… a little higher than Santos. But defensively, double-six it. And if you want to look up a lineup sheet it’s a double-six.

That’s a little unusual for you is it not? You usually like a single-pivot?

Yeah, no, we’re gonna do it. I’ve done both in the academy and in MLS. 

I think there are moments to have the single-pivot six and maybe one day that can be our pure formation with and without the ball, but today the double-six is the right balance for the team. Depending on the players, the personnel, and the players available today. I feel that and even if it was a Thiago [Santos] with [Brandon] Servania or with [Bryan] Acosta it’s the same idea.

How much smaller is the New York field than what you are used to and does it change your thinking, game planning, and tactics?  Is there that big of a difference or is it just not the big deal?

It’s different, it’s different. I mean the width, the depth, it’s going to be different. It’s going to be a lot more small moment stuff and duels, and it’s going to be a fast game. You even have that kind of like corner baseball area that is a little different surface to the rest of the field. So it’s a lot of factors there.

I haven’t been there personally but I’m going to be ready to adjust right away and I know the players are. Most players have been there before and they’re the ones giving really good feedback to the rest of the group.

New York City’s a very good team and I know the table doesn’t reflect the level of that team. So it’s going to be a war.  It’s going to be a war but we’re not in any moment to feel bad or to think that their first points are going to be against us. No, we’re there to handle our business and we need to earn more away and what better way than to start it on the road earning the points and earning three points.

Playing at NYCFC is like a 90-minute rondo session.

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