Practice Observations: January 27 – Cuts are coming

Well, there are all kinds of scissors. And once, there was even a man who had scissors for hands.

Kim

I felt like I was driving around London this morning on my way to FC Dallas training, as the Metroplex was fogged in. Things are a bit foggy around FCD’s roster too but don’t worry folks, I’m here to bring you some clarity today.

A foggy, cold morning at FC Dallas training, January 27, 2020. (Buzz Carrick, 3rd Degree)

FC Dallas has a double scrimmage on Wednesday, 4 pm against OKC Energy and 6 pm against NTX Rayados. At the time of this post, there’s no video streaming planned for the game.  The 4 pm game is closed to the public, but the 6 pm scrimmage is open to fans. It will be on Field 4 outside the stadium.

I mention the scrimmages because those Wednesday games are almost certainly the last chance for any draft picks to make the team. Coach Luchi Gonzalez tells me they will be traveling to California with their roster down to compliance.

Due to my other job, today was my last viewing of the draft picks before cut-down. So down toward the end of this post, I’ll predict who I think is going to make it and who isn’t.

In the meantime…

News, Notes, and Practice Observations

Michael Barrios and Fafa Picault were both held out of training today. Both are having some tightness and soreness around the knee.  Both have been seen by the docs and are expected to be fine, but the club is going to have scans done anyway. Just in case.

Dante Sealy is missing again today. But he has been training all week, just not doing two-a-days as he is just 16.  So it’s just been odd coincidence I’ve missed him twice out of the three sessions I watched.   I asked Coach Luchi Gonzalez about Sealy, see down below.

Thiago Santos isn’t here yet. Luchi told Dan Crooke it will be this week he arrives.

Paxton Pomykal is moving better. He did about 80% of the session and was then shut down due to workload management on his recovery.  Pomykal played mostly left wing today along with some 10. A comment from Luchi about him below as well.

Brandon Servania, Jesus Ferreira, and Reggie Cannon are still with team USA.

No North Texas SC players involved today other than Carlos Avilez. Luchi says their presence, or not, is about numbers needed in training.

By the way, North Texas SC camp opens on February 10th.

Nkosi Burgess looks better today, more settled in, more confident, fitting in… That’s a big leap in a week. He plays both right back and center back today.

Santiago Mosquera looks terrific. He’s probably FCD’s best player today, really sharp and decisive. Changing the game and drills.  That’s an exciting step to see him in such good form this early in camp.

Cal Jennings played both as a wing and a 9 today.

Ema Twumasi, who had been discussed as a right back at some point by FCD staff, including Luchi, continues to only play wing and forward so far this spring that I have seen.

Eddie Munjoma played in the central of midfield today in an 8 profile. Not something to think on though, Luchi said they just needed a body in there.

Ricardo Pepi told me his ankle is a little sore, but otherwise, he feels good.

Bressan looked a little stiff today, I’m going to assume it’s just spring training overload.

Callum Montgomery was doing some extra work with coaches post-training on long ball switching passes. Luchi said it was Montgomery’s idea. I applaud the initiative.

Today’s session was all about the buildup, both wide and centrally. FCD worked in combinations for the 4-3-3.  It was also interesting to watch FCD work in a 3-5-2 as well.  Luchi says they will mix in some 3-5-2 in training all year to give them more formation options.

The two sides today were grey vs blue but they were mixed teams so the personnel doesn’t tell us much before what general spots guys were working.

The two teams were tied after the last phase of the drills, so it came down to a single PK for the daily win. Mosquera converted for grey.  Jesse Gonzalez with the big save on Reto Ziegler to clinch the win for team grey.

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Rondo!

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Cuts, or Not

Ok, here’s my take on all the draft picks and who I think gets cut or signed and by which club.  I’ll go in order of the picks.  Obviously these are contingent on the player accepting any offer.

Nkosi Burgess – Signed by FC Dallas

He had a rough start, but his athleticism is clear. He was picked as a project and clearly is a project. He’ll play a bunch of North Texas at the start of the season but he’ll be on the FCD roster and train with FCD.

Cal Jennings – Signed by FC Dallas

Jennings is pretty far along and has the body for MLS. Pace to separate, some savvy to break people down, and the strength to play back-to-goal against some 6’4” type center backs.  He presses well already but will need to work on playing wing to make himself more versatile. He’ll compete with Pepi for the #2 striker spot until Franco Jara arrives and could make some 18s early, particularly is Cobra or Pepi get call ups.

Manuel Ferriol – Cut by FC Dallas, signed by North Texas SC

Right now he’s the most polished draft pick with the more complete game. He fits in the best in training. BUT he lacks athleticism.  He’s a better player than an athlete. Is there room for that in pro soccer? Yes.  In MLS?  Maybe… MLS is a transition league, lots of verticality. USL-1 is a perfect spot to give Ferriol an extended run, see how progresses.

Derek Waldeck – Cut by FC Dallas, signed by North Texas SC… this summer?

Hard worker, tenacious. Good energy and effort.  Lacking something in the technical area. Solid mind for the game but is trying to do too much.  There’s not enough here, at least now, for a FCD contract.  I think FCD will offer him a spot with NTXSC who could use a 6.  But, that Stanford degree… so perhaps he will finish that out and return this summer for a run with North Texas? Does one pass on getting that last semester at Stanford for a USL-1 contract? I bet not.

Andres Engebretsen – Cut by FC Dallas, invited to NTX camp

I’ll be honest, I didn’t see much here until a full-field type game where I finally noticed him once or twice.  But that’s not enough. I don’t even think it’s enough for a NTX offer either beyond perhaps an invite to NTX camp in February.  Even that I’m not sure of, they may have seen enough.

Catching up with Luchi Gonzalez

Second week of training, how’s it going? How are you’re feeling good about where your team’s at, where your progress is at?

Yes, steady. I saw today, things that I thought we did better today than last week. So that shows the steps. The players, it’s important they’re open… there’s going to be mistakes but that they’re open and that they’re learning from those mistakes and they’re improving on them.

So then you see some competitive spirit as well, I’ll make sure every session has an element of competition because winning and losing is important in their development… so that it transfers to the real game, to the real field.

You talked last week about having a good foundation, this being your second year. What’s the first thing you’re trying to bring in this year that’s new? The first new elements?

So there are a few things we feel we’ve introduced earlier already in week one, which is vertical combos, kind of finding the second third line supporting that… to build more aggressively, quicker, and to get in behind, and to score… and that includes some switches and includes combos synchronized movements, positional things. 

It takes work. But feel like we’ve introduced that earlier. We’ve even got some set pieces introduced last week, just some general fundamental things with and without the ball.  Obviously some pressing, some initial high pressing. We still are connecting Rondo’s in everything we’re doing, in transitions and everything we’re doing… because that has to be the blood that flows through our veins, concept-wise. 

Anybody veteran or a new guy that’s jumping out of you and having a great spring? That you feel excited about? That you want to talk about?  

It’s hard so early you know? We got some knocks with some guys and that that we’re hoping to rehab and have them back soon. 

It’s good to get Paxton [Pomykal] more involved today, good to see him. I think Santi showed some good sparks. Fafa [Picault]’s new and last week, I thought, showed some great things. He’s going to help us. Mikey… It’s good to see the attacking guys connected in our builds already and seeing the responsibility in our build the transition and the press. 

So, I want to commend all the front guys. Cobra just being connected in our football and not just focusing on the end product, although that is their job, but at the same time, I think they are already, from day one, showing that they are connected in every phase of the game for us. 

Did you get a US camp report from Berhalter or his staff on your guys?

A little bit, more so directly from the players just communicating with them, seeing how they’re doing. They all feel proud, connected, obviously, they have each other there to bounce things off of and help each other out. They’re ready to represent us against Costa Rica, you know, and we’re proud of them.

But no, I haven’t talked in an official style. I’ll do so soon after the [US] camp is over.

I will admit that Paxton looks a little frustrated, obviously, with where he is in terms of his fitness and maybe missing out on US camp. How do you think he’s holding up mentally? I mean, a young guy, right?  You know training camp is tough anyway and he’s perhaps not happy with where he is physically?

Sure that’s normal. It’s normal for him that he would be frustrated because, you know, his body is still showing signs that he’s not at a hundred percent. He had a little setback in camp, but nothing serious and he’s already back on the field with us in some light session and some light exercises and I’m pretty confident soon you’ll be with real opposition and the big field and earning his way back to an opportunity to be selected again. 

Dante Sealy’s been having a great offseason for the youth the national team and the academy… but I haven’t seen him out here much this first week… Can you give an update on where he is?

Dante’s really young and although he’s grown physically a lot in the last six months… yeah, he definitely had a very positive offseason, had a good shine with the Academy in the showcase and then with youth national team opportunities. He, in our first week, I thought his attitude and his energy were very positive. He has a long way to go to adjust to game concepts, you know, because he hasn’t had that many reps with the first team. But we’re confident with work he can improve his press, improve his combinations, improve his movement, his transition…

He’s a young player so he’s still going to have opportunities in different areas of the club, even sometimes outside the club. We’ve done that with Thomas [Roberts] with Brian Reynolds, even [Brandon] Servania got given that, even Paxton… giving guys opportunities outside the club, to be more first-team ready, and to be stimulated so that they can develop.

I noticed you had your North Texas staff out here both times I’ve been out. Can you just talk a little about the integration with those guys with your staff and having them out here involved in this spring training?  

Yes, so they haven’t started preseason, so they’re a part of our staff whether North Texas is active or not and while North Texas is not active, they’re going to be a part of our sessions in the field.  To connect, to integrate with us in terms of concepts, training methodology, and socially. We’re all brothers in this and their objective, number one… it’s great to win the USL-1 Championship… but their number one goal is to get as many guys into the first team as possible and to be successful in the first team, so it’s a good opportunity here in the preseason to have them involved with us.

6 Comments

  1. I’m wondering if the signing of Munjoma makes it so that Twusami will shift back to the wings permanently. Though, I suppose if Cannon is sold, that could change again.

  2. Want more coverage of the academy. Especially the u15s(Anthony Ramirez, Nolan Norris, Jordan Jones, Pranav Dubroff, Roman Hemphill, etc…)

      1. Thanks! I’m all the way in Portland, OR so it’s hard to keep up but I’ve seen quite a bit of that particular academy team and I think they are probably the best academy team to ever go through the FC Dallas system. A few of those kids have the potential to go on to be stars.

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