FRISCO -- If you want to talk to Jonathan Top after practice, you’d better bring a sack lunch.
Waiting for the 19-year-old to finally come off the training ground can be an exercise in patience, but the hard work has paid off for the youngster in a successful sophomore season.
“It’s just something I do,” Top said. “I like to stay after practice and get extra work done. I enjoy company from Richard [Sanchez], Bobby [Warshaw] and the homegrown fellows. We just work.”
Putting in as much as a full hour of extra training on many days, Top is certainly showing the work ethic that a young player must have if he wants to bridge the gap from Academy star to Major League Soccer regular, the task in front of the Texas native as he heads into his third season.
“I think it’s what most every professional goes through,” Top said about transitioning from Academy to pro. “You always have to start somewhere. Coming from the Academy, I was one of the better players and things just seemed easier. When you come to this level, it’s completely different and you have to start from nothing again.”
Indeed there are no shortcuts to the first team, something Schellas Hyndman has made very clear to his youngsters, and much of Top’s success has been centered around getting fit. Hyndman noted earlier this year that Top has dropped well over a dozen pounds and over 10 percent of body fat in his second season with FCD.
“You look at what he did last year and then what he did this year, it was much improved,” head coach Schellas Hyndman said. “We always liked his movement and his finishing. What he needs to be able to do now is just hold the ball a little bit better and make better decisions.”
Much of the improvement needed in Top’s game is centered around simply getting more games. Having earned his first minutes for the FC Dallas first team through strong performances in the Reserve League, more games for the young forward is a must next year whether it comes through a loan to a lower league side or an expanded MLS Reserve League.
One team Top is desperate to get minutes for is the United States Under-20 National Team. With the CONCACAF U20 Championships doubling as a qualifying tournament for the 2013 Under-20 World Cup, February’s tournament in Mexico is the next huge step in Top’s career. The FCD forward has been a part of just about every one of head coach Tab Ramos’ camps, and a strong showing in February could raise the Texan’s profile even further.
“I’m just hoping to God that I get to be a part of that team going forward. It’s a very special thing as a young guy,” Top said. “At the last camp, he said that everyone would be a part of the team moving forward. So I’m just hopeful I get called into the next camp.”