Preseason Day 15: Monday, Jan. 30
FC Dallas’ third week of preseason began with four key players joining the team for their first full training sessions of the season.
U.S. National Teamers Zach Loyd and Brek Shea returned to their places on opposite flanks, while offseason signing Blas Perez ran up front. Stalwart defender Ugo Ihemelu also returned to the pitch. He began the preseason cautiously after picking up a minor calf injury during the offseason.
The quartet competed in a game of 11-on-11 with three goals on each end of the field.
During the drill, Chris Seitz made an outstanding save, diving high to his left side to deny Jonathan Top of a goal. Shea also looked sharp, setting up a goal by Top with a one-touch pass with the inside of his trailing foot after checking hard to the touch line.
Offense vs. defense
With several new pieces of his offensive puzzle falling into place, FC Dallas head coach Schellas Hyndman went right to work on getting Perez, Shea, Loyd, Fabian Castillo and Scott Sealy on the same page.
The drill consisted of eight offensive players working against six defenders in a 60-yard area. Shea worked well with familiar left back Jair Benitez while Castillo and Loyd overlapped on the right side. Perez looked like he grew up with the group, quickly assimilating himself in the combination passing.
The first goal of the day took all of one minute as Shea played a ball into space for Perez, who one-timed a cross to the back post for Castillo to finish. A few minutes later, Shea sent a lofted ball to the far post, where Sealy struck a diving header into the back of the net.
Perez displayed a strong feel for the back of the net throughout the drill, picking out the side-netting behind both posts on multiple occasions. In addition, the Panamanian setup as many goals as he finished. At one point the striker rose above a crowd of players to head the ball away from goal, directly into the path of Ricardo Villar, who struck a hard shot at the near post from the top of the area.
Midway through the drill, Hyndman inserted Daniel Hernandez and David Ferreira at the point. Hernandez added another dimension to the attack, calming the play and striking a few hard shots from distance. Perez continued to combine well with Sealy to score another goal before bringing down a cross from Loyd in a pack of players and finishing strong to the near post.
The session ended with more finishing at the south goal.
Perez continued to shine along with Andrew Wiedeman and Sealy. Following the drill, Shea decided he needed additional work on headers. He employed the assistance of Sealy at the near post, heading in 50-60 balls before calling it a morning.
Ihemelu and Loyd also wanted extra work. The duo worked on chipping balls out of the back by shooting balls over the crossbar of a small goal set up inside a larger goal.