FRISCO - As FC Dallas continues to build through the opening weeks of preseason, the team got its first test from an outside opponent in a friendly against local amateur side NTX Rayados Wednesday afternoon at Toyota Soccer Center.
Dallas rotated lineups at halftime and even sent some of their own across party lines to accomplish a goal of getting every field player a half of action. The scoreline finished at 5-0 in favor of the pro side, but it was what happened within the match that served as the real victory in the eyes of head coach Luchi Gonzalez.
In the opening 45, Zdenek Ondrasek scored the lone tally in an overall frustrating half in the final third - including a PK attempt from Dallas’ newest forward that was saved moments before the halftime whistle. The lack of finishing or ideas there, says Gonzalez, wasn't a shock because almost all of the work done so far in preseason has been in building from the back.
“We've been doing a lot of our work from 'keeper to backs to midfielders and forwards have been working in the build, but once we get past midfield we've really done no work so far. It's going to be our next step,” he said candidly after the match. “We always want to kill opponents and put away our chances, but my expectation was more on how we're dealing with our build and our mid-block, more so than what we're doing in the last third.”
Where the real victory came for the coaching staff was in the implementation of the fundamentals they’ve instilled thus far in the way the team builds and finds ways out of pressure applied in the defensive third.
For the opening quarter hour of each half, Gonzalez put that aspect of the learning process to the test, having the Rayados to put pressure high and create stress on FCD's defensive shape.
"What I loved is that we had a lot of the ball, and we want more, but in the moments where we needed to go low block because they broke our pressure, we were composed. We got behind it and we built out of it,” Gonzalez continued. “That's the exercise that I think is important to take away from today knowing it wasn't going to be perfect [offensively].”
It's all part of the long-term plan for preseason and as opponents increase in severity, the idea is that this Dallas roster will have more tools in its repertoire. By the time the team is facing FC Bayern II and then MLS talent in Arizona over the coming weeks, everything will be implemented and put to the full test. Until then, each session has its own purpose.
“With the new coaching staff, we have been strengthening many things which we are going to show this season,’ Santiago Mosquera said after scoring from the PK spot. “What the coach wants in these games that we build that trust and that we work on what they want on the field.”
“We’re a little raw, solely because it’s only week two and it’s a process,” midfielder Paxton Pomykal added. “We’re getting to know Luchi as well as he’s getting to know us. We’re starting to realize the philosophy and the style and we’re starting to all become a team and a unit. A lot more to come.”
Their next chance to continue building comes on Saturday as FCD hosts Houston Baptist University in their second friendly of the preseason at Toyota Soccer Center.