FRISCO – FC Dallas travels to Illinois to take on the Chicago Fire after a bye week which saw nine of its first-team players depart Frisco for international duty.
Despite being shorthanded in his preparation for Chicago, head coach Luchi Gonzalez wasn’t discouraged by the number of absences.
“We’re thinking of our brothers that are representing their national teams at different age groups, but we’re very proud of that and it’s part of our process,” Gonzalez said. “We want more players to have those opportunities. It’s the kind of club we are, it’s our philosophy and it improves them and stimulates them to be better for FC Dallas.”
Dallas has been entrenched in a tough battle for Western Conference playoff spots, and the bye week offered a chance for the remaining first-teamers to take some time off and refocus.
“The guys that are here, it’s important that they have a little moment with family and friends,” Gonzalez added. “They got Saturday and Sunday off to recharge—not just physically, it’s more mental. Mentally we wanted to give the boys a mental and emotional break to recharge and then build up to this week for the season objectives.”
Dallas’ next objective is earning three points against a resurgent Chicago Fire on Saturday. Luchi Gonzalez’s side enters the match in strong form after back-to-back home wins—but the intervening bye week and international absences have the potential to disrupt the momentum and rhythm built up over the previous two matches.
However, club captain Reto Ziegler believes the addition of FC Dallas Academy players into the first-team training sessions has helped preserve their momentum for Chicago.
“It’s easy to maintain because we keep training every day and we have some young guys from the youth academy come help us and they have a lot of energy so it’s never easy in training,” Ziegler explained. “Of course, we miss the competition (of games) but it’s also good to sometimes have a few days off to recover and now we feel fresh to win in Chicago.”
Starting left back Ryan Hollingshead echoed a similar sentiment and highlighted the benefit of the extra rest.
“We’re professionals, we know how to manage these bye weekends,” Hollingshead added. “It’s good timing for us to be able to focus on getting our bodies healthy, getting our guys back, and getting ready for this last stretch of the season into playoffs. So, we’re ready to go.”