FRISCO, Texas - While they may have been a bit weary and in need of a nap after their cross-world flight, FC Dallas returned home from UAE on Wednesday with the satisfaction of a job well done and some experiences as a team that will last a lifetime.
"It was a good trip. I thought we got a lot done on the field and learned about the identity we want to portray this year as a team," London Woodberry told FCDallas.com. "I feel like off the field it was probably one of the best trips I’ve been on. Seeing the mosques was quite an experience. I’ve never seen anything like it, just the architecture over there is on a different level...I’m glad to be back, but it was overwhelming on how big everything was and every building’s architecture."
While many teams stay stateside for their preseason, the trip across the world gave FC Dallas a chance to gel as a team under some isolated circumstances with new head coach Oscar Pareja.
"It was a good experience just because with the time difference and everything, communication with people back here [in Dallas] wasn’t on the same page so we kind of had each other instead of being on social media," said Woodberry. "On the field, I think we gelled pretty well as a team just because it was pretty intense with the training."
FCD played two games while in UAE, both against Swedish side BK Hacken, logging one win and one loss, but for Woodberry the games were about more than just the final score.
"I thought we played well," said Woodberry. "No one knew, but we had pretty hard training sessions the day before both of the games and Oscar told us he knew our legs were heavy and tired but this is preseason and a grind so you have to get through it."
The trip was about more than just on-field play, however, as FCD held some unique team-building experiences including a once-in-a-lifetime desert safari full of "dune-blasting" as well as getting to ride camels and other activities.
"Probably one of the most majestic animals in my eyes," said Woodberry. "It was a good experience. I’ve been on a horse before, but I feel like camels are more laid back and have more smiles than horses."
With time quickly ticking down to March 8, it's all business for FC Dallas now as they head for an intense week in Florida before returning home for one more friendly in San Antonio.
"[Oscar] brings an intensity to practice and an enthusiasm that I feel like makes everyone want to be enthusiastic," said Woodberry. "No one is coming out to the field with a lackadaisical attitude."