FC Dallas practice observations, news, and notes, September 25th – Ziegler wins

It was only 80 degrees when training started at 9 am today and with the light breeze, it was almost nice. That didn’t last, of course, as it was about 97 by the time I left.

Today’s session was mostly a split session. For the offense there was a lot of work on finishing, that’s not a surprise with FCD’s poor finishing efficiency of late. For the defense, it was a lot of work on cohesion and shape, movement as a block.

News and Notes

Bryan Acosta was off today with a small nagging something. Coach Luchi Gonzalez wasn’t too specific but says Acosta should be back tomorrow and be good to go.

Dante Sealy was with FCD as well today. Technically he’s a Homegrown player for FCD but he’s on loan with NTXSC all season.

Bryan Reynolds was missing with a knock he got playing for NTX this weekend.  I’m told he’s fine though.

Brandon Servania is in the concussion protocol and if all goes well will be cleared by the weekend.

Imanol Almaguer and “Pollo” Cortes from North Texas SC were involved in FCD training to help fill up some numbers with the missing FCD players.

Ema Twumasi and Francis Atuahene are both still with Austin Bold. Twumasi has 10 starts in 14 appearances – some at right back, some in midfield – with 2 goals. Atuahene has made 3 starts in 8 appearances with 1 goal and 1 assist.

Peter Luccin had to take part in the 6v6 mini-games drill toward the end of the day to make up a team.

Coach Gonzalez said that last week Paxton Pomykal wasn’t able to take part in training until Friday with his hip flexor. That was too short a time frame to be able to start versus NYCFC but it did allow Pomykal to be on the bench.

Practice Observations

Reggie Cannon looked really dialed in and focused today, more so than of late.

Paxton Pomykal answers media questions following FC Dallas training. (9-25-19)(3rd Degree / Buzz Carrick)
Paxton Pomykal answers media questions following FC Dallas training. (9-25-19)(3rd Degree / Buzz Carrick)

Paxton Pomykal is vocally asserting himself more in training, taking on a larger leadership role that I’ve seen before. Calling out more veteran players when it’s not good enough in the competitive stage at the end of training. He also took some reps at left wing and at central mid today.

Dom Badji had some really nice, clinical finishes in the small-sided games. Some of that in an MLS game would be nice to see.

I was watching Jesus Ferreira in some of the shooting drills. Even today he looks better when he shots one-time shots, instinctually, with a quick trigger. When he takes a touch and has time to think and/or be closed down, he’s not nearly as effective as a shooter.

I really liked the quality of Johnny Nelson’s crossing today. It took at MLS Best XI type season from Ryan Hollingshead to keep the left back job away from Nelson. I’m looking forward to more from Nelson down the line. And Hollingshead too for that matter.

Reto Ziegler‘s team prevailed in the 6-man mini-games toward the end of training. You better believe these games are taken seriously and are quite competitive.

Catching up with Luchi Gonzalez

After the NYCFC game, you mentioned the target is 51 points, two wins. So you feel both these games are must-win then?

Absolutely. We’re going for 51 points. Nothing less.

(Side note: this is the shortest answer I’ve ever heard Coach Gonzalez give to any question. Ever.)

There have been some games on the road where you’ve used a low block and counter type strategy, is there a specific trigger for that or is it more instinctual?

Early in the season, I think, we didn’t have a lot of time to impose in our way in how we want to press and out ideas with the ball and without the ball, in our transitions certainly. I see us evolving here at the end of the season where we’re going to have moments away, or depending on a circumstance, or venue, or type of team we’re playing – could even be at home – where we’re in mid or low block.

So we need to be organized and we need to do it well. Suffer, maybe, without the ball and know that it’s just to get through the moments and then get back on the ball and to regain energy and time and space.

I think we’ve evolved to now, at the end of the season, where we’re in lower blocks for less amounts of time.

But being in a low block is important for us. But we don’t want to make it our starting plan. We want to make it one of the ideas, one of the moments to add to our elements to win a game.

What kind of profile does Michael Barrios bring when you play him as a 9 compared to some of your other options?

When Barrios is a 9, it’s to stretch a backline. When we know there can be space in behind it early. If we feel that there are moments that we’re not going to have the collective eleven near the opposition box as often as we would like or expect, then having a 9 who can stretch and use their speed is an idea to be dangerous.

That’s the idea and it’s an option that’s in our pocket.

You probably have access to better analytics than I do, but it seems to me Jesus Ferreira is more efficient when he shoots on instinct with a quick trigger rather than taking a touch. Do you see that reflected in his numbers?

I would say, maybe he’s not finding the back of the net as consistently as before, but he was at the 9 before. He was closer to goal. When you are closer to goal you have, statistically, a higher chance of scoring. He’s been doing more playmaking and is still scoring, he has scored two goals at the 10 position.

Yeah, I’d say Jesus is also a player that maybe he wasn’t well known by the opposition at the beginning of the season. But he’s built now a reputation that he’s a dangerous player, a smart player, a technical player in this league. The opposition is recognizing that and they are closing down his time and space, so he has to now adapt and that means maybe shooting with the left foot. Releasing the shot quicker. I agree with those ideas. It’s a good natural development process for him and I know he’s going to adapt and find the back of the net sooner or later.

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