FRISCO, Texas – Home Grown player Jonathan Top and Supplemental Draft pick Paul “Bim” Ogunyemi joined FC Dallas for the first time Tuesday evening. The pair had been awaiting physicals. The session began on a breezy but sunny afternoon. However, the weather quickly turned dark and cold due to the impending storm that struck Dallas early this morning and caused FC Dallas to suspend its preseason training for the third time this season. Alert of the forecast, the coaching staff quickly divided the players up and fielded an 11-on-11, 20-minute scrimmage.
With the introduction of midfielders Ricardo Villar and Bruno Martins, FC Dallas Head Coach Schellas Hyndman needed a way to get a look at a wide array of midfielders. He did so by placing Milton Rodriguez as the lone forward in a 4-5-1 formation. Brek Shea patrolled the left midfield and Marvin Chavez the right while Villar and Martins teamed with Bruno Guarda in the middle.
In the back, Moises Hernandez started at left back with Andrew Wiedeman on the right. The talkative Bobby Warshaw stepped back to quarterback the defense from center back alongside Jackson. Kevin Hartman was in goal.
On the opposite side of the ball, Maykel Galindo and David Ferreira played up top in a 4-4-2. Bryan Leyva, who has been red-hot in training this week, worked the left flank. Jamaican Sheldon Palmer started the afternoon on the right side of midfield and Eric Avila and Eric Alexander combined in the center. From left to right on defense it was: Jair Benitez, Alexis Pradie, Scott Gordon and Charlie Campbell. Chris Seitz was between the posts.
Just five minutes in, the red team applied enough pressure to the young (Green) defense to earn a penalty kick. Referee Hyndman obliged and Ferreira converted to make it 1-0 red. Hyndman called for a free kick from the top of the box after the penalty just to test Ferreira’s range. Kicking into a strong headwind, he bent his shot wide of the left post.
A green team counter-attack produced a set piece from a similar area on the opposite side of the field and Rodriguez whipped a shot over the wall and just inside the left post of Seitz to make it 1-1. He wasn’t done.
Before the final whistle Warshaw chipped a ball in over top of the red defense. Roughly 35-yards from net, off to the left of goal, the ball sat up nicely for Rodriguez to strike with his first touch. Given the distance to goal, the Colombian surprised everyone when he hit a dipping shot with his left foot over the head of Seitz and just under the crossbar at the back post. The match ended 2-1 in favor of the green team.
FC Dallas’ MLS-record fifth Home Grown player, Jonathan Top made his first appearance in the second match of the afternoon. The youngster replaced Galindo on the red team and made a memorable first walk into the center circle for kickoff, tapping the ball to defending MLS MVP Ferreira. The red team’s backline remained the same, but the right side of midfield saw Brayan Martinez replace Alexander and Paul Ogunyemi take over for Palmer on the flank. The green team brought Jason Yeisley on at center back for Jackson and Victor Ulloa replaced Guarda at center mid.
Top did not disappoint. Running east-to-west along the last defender, he sped past an opponent to catch up to a through ball from Ferreira. With his first touch, Top hit a shot, low to the far post that just got under the body of Hartman. The goal was simple but impressive. Top’s shot seemed to come quicker than expected. He needed almost no time to set his feet before striking the ball.
Having played with Leyva in the FC Dallas Academy, Top combined quickly with his former teammate. High pressure from Leyva forced a turnover in the green team’s offensive third of the field. Leyva sent a lateral pass across the top of the box to Top, who got off a rising shot that whacked the crossbar and went out of play. The match finished 1-0 after 20-minutes.
Galindo replaced Ferreira up front for the red team. Alexander came back on for Avila at center mid and Palmer replaced Leyva on the left side. The defense remained the same and Craig Hill replaced Seitz in goal.
Green adopted a 4-4-2 with Leyva replacing Martins at center mid. He joined Rodriguez at forward. Guarda replaced Villar in the center. Green’s defense also remained the same, but Josh Lambo replaced Hartman in goal.
On the left flank, Palmer took a casual look towards the sideline before darting inside towards goal. Running at net, Palmer picked out Top, who was checking to the ball from the far post. As fluid as could be, Top chested the ball towards goal and hit a half-volley at the front post. It would have been a remarkable goal if not for Lambo, who was in prime position to make a diving save to his left. The match eventually ended 0-0.
“I thought today’s practice had a good pace to it,” Hyndman said to the team afterwards. “Those of you who are not familiar with the pace of a league match – tonight was very similar.”