FRISCO - With two weeks left until the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal against Arabe Unido, FC Dallas heads to Argentina knowing it’s crunch time.
FCD began an eight games in eight days stretch on Wednesday morning falling 1-0 to Club Lanus, but the point of the trip is not necessarily to win games but to get ready for the one that matters on February 23rd at Toyota Stadium.
“The coaches have been stressing there’s no time to wait around, and if we’re not prepared then Arabe Unido will come in here and smack us around,” said Homegrown midfielder Kellyn Acosta on Monday before leaving for Argentina. “So right now that’s our biggest thing is working hard each and every day.”
When Acosta says “every day” he means every day, with eight games in eight days. It certainly raises eyebrows to have a schedule like that, but head coach Oscar Pareja says that’s what is needed to prepare in the shortest offseason ever.
“We needed to adjust the preseason due to the difference this year due to CONCACAF Champions League being almost two weeks before the start of MLS and definitely knowing the urgency to get guys into game mode,” said Pareja. “We needed to modify the way we’ve done preseason from prior years.”
In Wednesday’s opening match against Club Lanus, FCD’s starters played about 40 minutes with some getting a little extra work and that’s what Pareja is looking for throughout the week.
“The idea is to provide half a game for each player. I may have players with three and a half games or a few with four but the majority of them will have four games plus in nine days,” said Pareja. “That will give us the volume that we need in this period. Obviously we’re going to try and control the load.”
While there is a game every day, the trip also serves as some much-needed team bonding for a side that finally has the whole squad together with most players back from international duty and only Victor Ulloa and Mauro Diaz missing the trip with injury.
“Every team is first division and it’ll be a good test for us as a group and also a good bonding experience on and off the field,” said recently-returned Walker Zimmerman. “We’ll have some fun, play some cards and maybe eat a little bar-be-que.”