FC Dallas preseason is fully underway with a new season, faces, and coaching staff. Given the numerous changes made at the club, it will be “a process” for FC Dallas in 2022.
Mentioned upwards of 10 times in the preseason-opening press conference, FC Dallas is in a process of recovering from a lackluster 2021 season while resetting expectations, coaches, and players.
”We have big expectations but we also recognize that this is also a process,” Dan Hunt told the media. “I was thinking about our season last year: 33 points in 34 games obviously is not the standard. I think we are going to have to build on some of the positives that we had last year. At the same time, there are things that have to be fixed. The biggest one for me is the goal differential.’
As mentioned in Episode 145 of 3rd Degree The Podcast, the Dallas defense struggled with consistency, injuries, and form leading leaving the club with a negative goal differential for the first time since 2013. With the emergence of Nkosi Tafari and the return of Matt Hedges and Jose Martinez, the backline may stabilize once again.
“We’ve always been a top-three team in the league in terms of goals against,” Ryan Hollingshead told 3rd Degree. “We just have to get back to the basics especially when you’re having a bad season. You start to push for wins a little harder than you should have which causes you to get a little disorganized. It’s hard to say what factor it was but we have a lot of guys coming back that are going to form very solid defense and a lot of guys that have been here for a long time proving their defensive prowess for a long time. “
There is much anticipation on the system and style that Head Coach Nico Estevez will play. Preseason affords Estevez the time to see what players he has available to him.
The first road trip in the Nico Estevez era will provide the opportunity for the team to embrace Nico’s plans. “Going to Florida is specifically fitness,” Hollingshead explained. “We got to push fitness, especially in this league. Fitness can take over a lot of mistakes and can cover a lot of things. We need to be a very fit team.”
“I think the road trip is a great opportunity to create a good cohesion between the team, the players, and the staff,” Estevez said. “It allows us to create our anchors as a team and to have a couple of games to see how the team is developing.”
The striking difference this preseason, in comparison to more recent seasons, is the change in mood at the club. Expectations may be uncertain given Coach Estevez’s first year but there is a shift in the club’s culture to one of focus and purpose.
In training sessions, the players are always occupied with the main drill of focus, fitness work, personal development with the ball, or conversations with the coaching staff. Each exercise builds upon a previous exercise and training leading to a goal.
Veteran players coach draft picks, homegrown, and other young players on the responsibilities of being a professional. Players are in constant communication with each other and coaches regarding training, tactics, and drills. The intensity of the players and training increase throughout practice and each passing day.
“You can tell that the way he [Nico Estevez] thinks, things are very structured, he’s got ideas about why we are doing things that we are doing,” Hollingshead said of his new coach’s training sessions. “It all crescendos to this main point. It’s not just going out and playing but we are playing for a purpose, there is a reason for what we are doing, we are just trying to disorganize the other team. He’s very methodical and you can tell that from our interactions.”
The new mentality at the club has many players refocused yet excited for the upcoming season. The new mentality is refreshing and infectious. It’s a mentality that emphasizes the process is not an easy one and requires consistent dedication and focus.
“FC Dallas has this structure in what they do through the Academy system,” Hollingshed continued. “Oscar [Pareja] and Luchi [Gonzalez] coming from that system, so Nico coming outside of that system and coming inside is really cool.”