FRISCO - Opportunity is the word around Frisco right now as FC Dallas enters week two of offseason training mini-camp.
While the bigger names from FCD’s 2017 roster are staying in shape and sharp before their holiday hiatus, it’s the younger ones who are fighting to get a jump start on 2018 and their roles in the new year.
“This is a great opportunity for us young guys out here doing extra work just to try and get some more minutes next year,” said defender Reggie Cannon, who was officially credited with one minute of play last year after a stoppage-time MLS debut on September 2 against the New York Red Bulls. “They’re looking to include us more next year and we’re just trying to prepare for that moment and it’s a great opportunity for us to maintain our fitness and get ready for the preseason.”
Cannon, along with midfielder Paxton Pomykal, continue to impress the coaching staff during the small-sided games at Toyota Soccer Center as they have done throughout the year, but it’s even more of a chance for the coaches to get eyes on two players who spent most of the year away - Adonijah Reid and Bryan Reynolds.
“With Adonijah and Bryan, we haven’t worked with them much during the year. They have been in a different mode and having the opportunity to work with them in these couple weeks is good just to see their level, how their year has benefitted them, the experiences they had away and compare them with the players that we saw early on in the year,” head coach Oscar Pareja said of the duo in these few weeks of training.
Reid spent much of the second half on loan with USL’s Ottawa Fury FC, seeing over 500 minutes of action during his first season and scoring his first professional goal the day before his 18th birthday. Reynolds, on the other hand, spent almost the entire year with the U.S. U-17 National Team in the run up to the U-17 World Cup last month. While playing as the youngest player on a talented roster, the Homegrown grew in experiences, but didn’t see much time on the field.
“Bryan, physically, is thicker [more muscular],” Pareja said of the differences between the start of the year and now. “That creates obviously a player in the competition and the training ground that is a little stronger to hold himself against the other boys. I think in the competition part, he needs a lot because he has been away but he hasn’t played much during the year in the National Team.
“Adonijah is opposite. We need to refine him a little bit more physically, but he had much more competition, so you can tell that he is more in that mode of competing, he’s smoother in his movement and his touches and all those things, but we need to reinforce the physical part.”
The physical matureness part is the focus for all the young players, who can use the time not spent in the rigors of a week-to-week season to hit the gym and even the playing field a bit more between them and the older players they compete against on the MLS gridiron.
“The whole season wears and tears you down,” Cannon said. “This is a great opportunity for us to bulk up. It’s hard for us to lift weights when you’re playing every single day and it’s a great opportunity for us to get better and get stronger.”
“The boys that have been working, they know that our responsibility is to maintain ourselves in good shape,” Pareja said of his roster as a whole. “It’s a long offseason - longer than normal - and they understand that the responsibility for us as professionals is to keep our bodies in form…I have great human beings there that understand what it takes to be great professionals in this time of the year.”