FRISCO - We’re a full week into preseason and as the team continues to build towards its first set of friendlies later this week, things are starting to take shape on the field under head coach Luchi Gonzalez.
As week two commences and momentum continues to build, there are a couple key things to be on the lookout for.
Not only does FCD have numerous options in the central and defensive midfield, there still remains the question of how exactly Gonzalez will utilize those roles. In his Academy days, the head coach preferred a 4-3-3 look with a true use of the No. 6, No. 8 and No. 10 roles, as opposed to the dual No. 6 roles we often saw under Oscar Pareja’s 4-2-3-1.
With a plethora of options from Carlos Gruezo, Bryan Acosta, Pablo Aranguiz, Jacori Hayes, Brandon Servania, Paxton Pomykal and Thomas Roberts all holding flexibility between the differing duties, who slots in best where is going to be maybe the biggest overarching theme in the look and feel of this squad come March 2.
Gonzalez wants to play a bold style centered around a high press and winning the ball back as far from goal as possible. The message throughout the first week and in Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage was about taking risks and not being afraid to play an abrasive game. The goal early is to push boundaries and make mistakes and learn from them.
Don’t be surprised if in the first few games some on-the-surface glaring mistakes lead to chances or goals against. In Gonzalez’s mind, you have to fail before you can succeed and it’s all about trying new things and pushing players just far enough outside their comfort zones. Those early mistakes hopefully get out of the way in January and February instead of March and April.
UP FOR GRABS
A new voice and a new outlook on the team means that the slate is clean for nearly every player in the FC Dallas room. The longtime vets have just as much to prove as the rookies getting their first taste of the professional game. Any preconceived depth chart from a year ago has gone out the window and everyone is fighting to put the best foot forward as it is drawn anew.
Nothing is given when someone new is making the decisions.
As preseason rolls on, external circumstances have impacted the arrival of several members of the team. Ema Twumasi arrived in the middle of week one, Francis Atuahene and Bressan both arrived over the weekend and are working their way back into training this week, and Bryan Acosta still has yet to arrive with delays in obtaining his Visa. Reggie Cannon also remains away on National Team duty until the start of week three.
While there is still plenty of time left before the 2019 home opener, with the attention to detail Gonzalez and the staff have placed on getting everyone ramped up and integrated, every day that - especially the new faces - are delayed will only delay the process of having the whole group comfortable and integrated as fast as possible.
FOOTWORK AT THE BACK
A big focus in the first week was goalkeepers being technically sound with their feet in play. Gonzalez told reporters during his opening press conference that he wants the goalkeepers to be comfortable and decisive in their decisions as the most frequent positions to create passes in the build-from-the-back mentality.
For the first three days, the ‘keepers didn’t even face a shot. At times even a few days later, Jesse Gonzalez would spend some reps at center back in small-sided drills. The focus on footwork could be just as big of a determining factor as shot-stopping with who gets the start on opening day.