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USA Today

How New Signing Fafa Picault Fits Into Luchi Gonzalez's System

FRISCO, Texas - FC Dallas announced today the signing of American international Fafa Picault from the Philadelphia Union. A three-season MLS veteran, Picault also has international experience having plied his trade in Germany with FC St. Pauli. With 21 goals and 12 assists for the Union, Picault is a proven MLS performer who will add pace and directness to FCD’s attack.

To understand how Picault may function in the team, we caught up with head coach Luchi Gonzalez to see how the 28-year-old forward will fit into his system for the 2020 season.  

Although he typically lined up on the left wing for the Union, Picault is capable of deputizing in any of the forward positions—an attractive quality to Gonzalez and his coaching staff.

“He’s versatile,” Gonzales said. “He can play anywhere in the front three. We value that type of piece right now. He comes from a system that Jim Curtain has been implementing the last few years involving ball possession and dynamic movements in behind [the defense] and moments of pressure. I think he’s coming in with a good background and we had that in consideration.”

With Gonzalez’s high-pressing play style, his forwards need to be able to cover ground and hurry defenders when they’re on the ball. Having come from a similar system in Philadelphia, Gonzalez is confident Picault fits that profile.

“He’s a transition player,” Gonzalez continued. “He’s very busy when the ball is lost to help the team get it back quickly. He doesn’t waste time or energy, he’s immediate about his reaction to help the team get the ball back. He still has youth and he’s proven to be able to score and assist in this league.”

FC Dallas’ left wing spot was somewhat of a revolving door in 2019. Dominique Badji and Santiago Mosquera were commonly used in the role but neither provided the runs in behind the opposition defense or creativity from wide positions that Michael Barrios provided from the right side. Badji offered pace in behind but isn’t a natural wide player and Mosquera prefers the ball played to his feet to create chances by cutting in-field.

Picault, ideally, offers similar qualities as Barrios (who led MLS in direct assists with 13 in 2019) but on the opposite flank.

“With the ball he’s technical and good one versus one,” Luchi said. “He can get on the wing and beat a player and get service [into the box]. He makes good runs in behind and we need a player like that to help stretch the opposition. Something that we want to do better when we’re playing away. I think he brings a lot different thing that can help us take our next step.”

Just as important as fitting in on the field, Gonzalez – who attended the same youth academy in Miami as Picault – believes the forward’s personality will mesh well with the current Dallas squad.

“There were some really great character references about him,” Gonzalez concluded. “He’s a competitor so he’s going to be passionate on the field but he’s also going to help us in the locker room by having the right attitude for this family and where we want to go.”