Practice Observations: Jan 21, 2020 – FC Dallas is back

People keep asking if I’m back and I haven’t really had an answer, but now yeah, I’m thinking I’m back.

John Wick

FC Dallas Training is back, so like John Wick, I’m thinking I’m back. And so are the start off observations quotes.

This week Coach Luchi Gonzalez is putting his players through two-a-days with both a morning and evening session. Since FCD planned a Dan Hunt/Luchi Gonzalez press conference after the morning session, I took the excuse to take in both sessions.

Luchi says cutdowns will happen before the team heads to California so the team is going to be moving quickly and the pressure it on the new picks to make a splash.

The morning session was quite short, just an hour and a half including stretching and warmup. It mostly included small drill ball work (including keepers, this is Luchi-Ball after all).

The afternoon session was a bit better for watching. It included longer passing and movement drills and then some 40-yard miny games or 6v6 plus keeper and full goals.

Since it’s hard to get a deep read on any new players from these kids of drills, I figure I should just give out some first impressions. Then further down the page I’ll give you some thoughts and takes on the old guard.

New Guys – First Impressions

Fafà Picault is for reals. Much smaller than I expected, but he’s quick and reads the game well in advance. Even in this small sample, he’s decisive and impactful. He is going to help this team be better.

Eddie Munjoma plays some left profile and right. All the skills are there I saw at SMU. He’s a little tentative in the new situation today, just big stage jitters I think. His game is fine, he’s just not comfortable yet.

Nkosi Burgess is an impressive athlete, really impressive. He just happens to play soccer. He’s massive in size, moves really well, and has good feet. But his defensive instincts are off and right now when he gets the ball he has no idea what to do with it in Luchi-Ball.

Cal Jennings is at his best posting up and when he gets into the box. He’s a little lost yet on the runs from a wide spot. I was really intrigued by his decisions, which way he would turn and pass, as he often caught me off guard. He’s also confident and looks the most at home at this level of the picks so far.

Cal Jennings (in the orange bib) tries to take the ball from Bryan Acosta (green bid) during FC Dallas spring camp. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

Manuel Ferriol is a better soccer player than an athlete. Clean on the ball, plays with his head up, good passing weight. But he may be just a bit short in the pace and quickness.

Derek Waldeck Good energy, plays on the balls of his feet, solid positioning. He gave me a Jack Colback vibe. I need to see him in a full field game.

Andres Engebretsen I didn’t get a great read on. In the small stuff, he was ok, but I hear he’s a wide winger that plays going at people. So more than anyone I can’t really say much without seeing him 11v11.

There’s no sign of Aiden Megally, FCD’s last pick, 92nd overall. I didn’t think to ask about him.

Old Guard Thoughts and News & Notes

Four North Texas Soccer Club “trialists” are in camp: Brecc Evans, Arturo Rodriguez, Imanol Almaguer, and Carlos Avilez.

Reggie Cannon, Brandon Servania, and Jesus Ferreira are with the US National Team.

Dante Sealy is back from the US U20 camp – where he got a one day invite to train with the USMNT – he was involved some yesterday but doesn’t take part today. Rest and recoup I assume.

Thiago Santos isn’t here yet. Visa pending.

Paxton Pomykal takes part in the small ball drills but during the 6v6 he runs the outside of the full. Jogging and sprinting. So it looks like he’s close cause he’s moving pretty quickly.

Ema Twumasi looks focused and determined. Sharp. I like what I see.

Francis Atuahene seems off. I think his mind isn’t right. Which is a shame cause I really like this kid.

Callum Montgomery has matured. He’s clearly more confident and stronger. He also seems particularly focused.

Kenny Cooper Jr. is here helping out as a coach again.

Johnny Nelson seems to have progressed a step as well. He looks super active and on top of the play.

Everyone else in camp is exactly what I expected. Including Arturo Rodriguez, who seems to be fitting right in. I could just write everyone’s name with “looked good” I suppose.

Andres Engebretsen (red bib) tries to defend Arturo Rodriguez (orange bib) while Callum Montgomery (green bib) looks on in the backgroud during FC Dallas spring training. (Courtesy FC Dallas)

The everyone else looked good list: Thomas Roberts, Michael Barrios, Santiago Mosquera, Ricardo Pepi, Ryan Hollingshead, Matt Hedges, Reto Ziegler, Zdenek Ondrasek, Edwin Cerrillo, Bryan Acosta, Bressan, Bryan Reynolds, Jesse Gonzalez, Jimmy Maurer, and Kyle Zobeck.

New Numbers Matter

If you’re like me and you think numbers matter, there have been a few changes for 2020. Here are the ones on the pre-season roster FCD handed out at training.

9Fafà Picault – Ugh, he’s not a 9. But he has worn it a lot in his career.
7Jesus FerreiraCalled it.
5Thiago Santos – Again, predictable. He wore 5 at Palmeiras.
27 Eddie Munjona – He wore 12 in college so this is probably just assigned.

And not on the roster they handed out, but I’ve since confirmed…

14 Bryan Reynolds – Changed to accommodate Jara.
31 Dante Sealy – again, as predicted.
29 Franco Jara

None of the draft picks have been assigned roster numbers.

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