FC Dallas Uses 5v5 Tournament to Bring the Fun and Spark Competition During Winless Run

FRISCO - Tuesday’s training session might be just what the doctor ordered for FC Dallas.

In the midst of a nine-game winless run, it was all about having some fun and injecting a little competitive edge as Oscar Pareja and the coaching staff broke the squad into five-man sides for a little 5v5 tournament.

“We’re just making small adjustments in the way we’re reacting to the adversity,” Pareja said after the two-hour competition. “Obviously for us there are many answers that could be effective, but at the same time we just need to do what we love to do and come and play and enjoy and have the feeling of winning, competing and battle. This morning was a simulation of what the season has been for us. A tournament where there has been a lot of ups and downs for them during the tournament and at the end a feeling that we can push and get to the final and win it.”

Broken up into five teams, each squad played eight, four-minute matches with the top four teams earning a Semifinal bid and the victors playing for bragging rights in the Final. After the group stage, all five teams found themselves separated by just a few of points.

Blue Team Orange Team Green Team Red Team Gray Team
Kellyn Acosta Michael Barrios Carlos Cermeño Tesho Akindele Jesus Ferreira
Reggie Cannon Atiba Harris Cristian Colman Maynor Figueroa Cariaco Gonzalez
Coy Craft Jacori Hayes Mauro Diaz Ryan Hollingshead Carlos Gruezo
Hernan Grana Maxi Urruti Aaron Guillen Javier Morales Roland Lamah
Paxton Pomykal Walker Zimmerman Matt Hedges Nikolas Farias (Trialist) Victor Ulloa

The energy, laughter and all-around enjoyment of the game itself on display Tuesday was something that has been tough to come by over the last two months. 

“It was fun, but at the same time, this was probably one of the most competitive practices [we’ve had],” said Tesho Akindele, who was a member of the champion Red Team. “When there was a goal scored, it meant something. When you conceded a goal, people were calling somebody out and everyone was accountable. So even though it was fun, I think it re-injected that competitive energy into our team, which is what we’re going to need right now.”

“We’ve still got to enjoy soccer at the end of the day,” veteran defender Atiba Harris added. “You have to keep the group happy and having games like this, it brings out the joy that we all have for this game and the love that we have for this game, along with the competitiveness. Little games like this are going to translate into the big picture.”

While the session itself means nothing in terms of the club’s remaining MLS schedule and push to secure a playoff spot heading into the final six matches, getting back to the basics, back to the fun and sparking the fight for the week of training ahead can go a long way for a team with not a lot to hold onto in recent weeks.

The staff hopes having the taste of success, at the very least, can make them hungry for more.

“It’s all up to ourselves," Akindele said. "We had a little talk after [training] and Oscar said, ‘We can look around and say Video Review messed us up or the refs messed us up or we got unlucky,” but at the end of the day we need to be saying, ‘What about me? What have I done as a player to help us get out of this? What have my teammates done for themselves to get out of this?’ Everybody needs to take a look at themselves and say ‘I’m not doing enough. What can I do better?’”