FRISCO – For a lot of teams around MLS, heading to Argentina for 10 days during preseason would be an undertaking in a foreign land. With FC Dallas, however, it’s a homecoming for a large contingent of players and staff.
While the opportunity to play an intense match schedule against many high-level teams presents no better place than the greater Buenos Aires area – home to 14 Primera Division clubs – it’s a natural fit for a club with more Argentinians in-tow than any other foreign nation.
“Definitely knowing the urgency to get the guys in the game mode, we needed to modify the way we did preseason from the prior years,” head coach Oscar Pareja said of the trip. “We were trying to get a scenario to go to a place that had that many teams so you could have games every day and just get these guys in that mode of playing 11v11 as much as we can before February 23.”
For FCD-newcomer Javier Morales, the CCL ramp-up trip is a chance to play in his native Argentina for the first time in a decade.
“I'm excited to go back home,” the Buenos Aires-native said with a smile. “The last time I was there as a soccer player was like 10 years ago, so my family is very excited, they maybe have a chance to go and see a game. It's going to be good.”
When Morales first started contract talks with FCD, he had no idea that signing with a new team could set up a trip home. He joked that once Fernando Clavijo told him about the preseason trip, he was sold.
“When I was talking with Fernando about signing, he told me about Argentina and I said 'OK, let's do it right now!'” he laughed. “I can't see any negative things going there. For me it's going to be good in every way, because I can go and see my family, we're going to play against good teams, we're going to test ourselves against them, so it's going to be good.”
And the off-the-field bonding that the players will go through being on the road for 10 days will go lengths in the team’s chemistry down the road.
"I don't know if we're going to have time to see the city because, what I hear from the coaches is we have games every day," Morales said. “[But] It's going to be really important to stay together, to play games and try to get to know each other. It's going to be good for us in the hotel to spend time with the guys and try to know them a little bit more.”
FC Dallas will play eight total friendlies in and around Buenos Aires before returning home to finish preseason and prepare for their CONCACAF Champions League Quarterfinal series against Arabe Unido beginning on Feb. 23.