FRISCO, Texas – Going into last season, Paxton Pomykal’s goal was simple: Stay healthy.
And thankfully – for him and FC Dallas fans everywhere – he was largely able to do that. After hip surgery limited him to one start in 2020, last season proved to be Pomykal’s most injury-free period of his professional career. The Lewisville native featured in 31 of Dallas’ 34 games and he added one goal and two assists along the way.
“Before last season, I’d had four surgeries in four years. So, trying to stay off the operating table was something that was really on my mind,” Pomykal told FCDallas.com. “So, that was a success and I ended up playing a lot of minutes and a lot of games so I was really happy about that.
“It was great to have a real offseason without having to have a surgery or do rehab. Just being able to take my mind off the game and really focus on my body and strengthening programs and things like that, which are difficult to do during the season. It’s really nice to start a season fresh and come into preseason at same time as everybody else and get fitness and minutes. It’s going to help me to have a base for the rest of the season.”
Last year also saw Pomykal shift from his usual central midfield position out to left wing. At the time, there was a general sense that the motive was to help the 22-year-old return to full fitness in a position that was less taxing on his body. But the 22-year-old says the decision was tactical rather than a protective measure. And after a year on the wing, Pomykal said he feels just as comfortable as he does in his natural midfield spot.
While FCD’s 2022 preseason is still young, it seems Pomykal may be returning to a central role under new head coach Nico Estévez. In possession drills featuring two teams, Pomykal often plays as a neutral, all-time offense player who’s available to whichever team has possession.
“Nico and I spoke a lot before preseason started and he wants me to dictate the pace of play, to get on the ball and be the guy that controls the game on both sides,” Pomykal explained. “He wants me to get used to playing in the interior spot in his system with those three midfielders – which is a little bit different – so being that neutral player in the middle opens the game up a little more and allows for more free-flowing moves to start off the concepts and things like that.”
“Paxton is very intelligent and he can play different positions because he’s a smart player,” Estévez said. “For him, it’s about how he develops in those positions. As a coach, I have to create context for him to develop and do the things that he can do on the inside of the field. In training, he’s playing inside and doing very well there. He’s very comfortable in that position. He has good feet to play in between the lines and to control possession. But he can also do this while playing wide and cutting inside.”
Pomykal achieved his 2021 goal and proved that his body could withstand the punishment of a 34-game season. So, what’s next for him in 2022?
“My goal this year is to win games and to be a leader and a big factor as to why we’re winning. So, stay at the top of the table, get a lot of minutes and contribute goals and assists. But most importantly, to be a big part of winning and being at the top of the table.”
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