FRISCO - The jeers of triumph and the utter disgust of defeat were ever-present as FC Dallas closed out its Tuesday training session with a small-sided tournament unlike any other.
Always a highly-competitive affair among athletes who thrive on competition, head coach Luchi Gonzalez kicked it up a notch by putting some hardware on the line - a simple, label-less trophy lying around Toyota Stadium once won in a local Frisco men's league.
In fighting for it, there's just one simple rule.
“The only thing we made mandatory was the celebration,” Gonzalez said. “If they scored, they had to shout the goal. I didn't say they had to all get in a pile, but at least shout the goal just so we create the feeling that the goal is important if you score and that it hurts if you got scored on. We don't want just silence on goals.”
Jacori Hayes after a blue team loss in the small-sided final
“The most celebrating I think I've ever seen in a small-sided tournament,” said Matt Hedges, whose squad came out on top with a thrilling golden goal by Francis Atuahene in extra time. “Making everyone celebrate means you're going to have a lot of voices out there yelling, being excited and everyone's going to get real hyped up for the goals and to win the game. It's an extra layer of fun.”
After the first 10 training sessions and an intrasquad scrimmage with a heavy focus towards fitness, implementing shape and developing formations, the tournament was a chance to let loose before an afternoon off and do what comes naturally: just playing.
“The tactical and technical are so important, and we're working on things, but the joy is just as important,” Gonzalez said. “The emotions, managing emotions, managing frustration, managing joy and enlightenment is just as important. We'll always, every week, try to find creative ways whether it's soccer tennis or playing, we want them to find that same joy in 11v11.”