Chula Vista, CA. — Preseason is fully underway, and FC Dallas' first travel stint is in Chula Vista, California, where the team will stay for a week. Los Toros will stay at the Chula Vista Athletic Training Center — a 155-acre campus for Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Throughout the week, Michael Ramirez of FCD Digital and Social will give updates on everything going on with the team and its players.
Technically, the team arrived in San Diego on Thursday, January 29, but today is the first full day on-site at the Chula Vista Athletic Training Center. The players and staff were amazed at how beautiful the campus looks here, and the weather for today's training session was perfect — it was around 70-degrees with clear skies and a nice breeze.
Today's small-sided champs
Today's training session was preceded by a quick video session, which was then implemented later on during the day. Technical Director Andre Zanotta made the trip down with the team as well and was in attendance at training. He's been able to talk more with Thiago Santos since his arrival this week. It's important for new international signings to ensure that they feel comfortable with their new group, and Santos has been able to get acclimated with his new teammates with the help of fellow Brazilian, Bressan.
Today was the second official training session with Santos, and it's hard not to notice how big he looks on the pitch. During small-sided games, he showed his decisiveness to win balls back, and he got to show how physical he is defensively.
From left to right: Thiago Santos, Andre Zanotta and Bressan
One of the many things that has stood out to me so far on the trip is how upbeat the group has been. Head coach Luchi Gonzalez emphasized how privileged the team is to get the opportunity to spend a week at such a nice facility in Chula Vista. This experience is aimed to bring the group closer together in a humble environment surrounded by Olympic-caliber athletes. The campus is occupied with athletes from all sorts of sports — from rugby to motocross.
Paxton Pomykal is continuing to progress from his offseason surgery, and he participated in team activities today. He said he's been feeling really good since coming back from U.S. Men's National Team camp a few weeks ago.
Reto Ziegler and Zdenek "Kobra" Ondrasek have gotten a lot closer to each other since they both got back from Europe. Kobra, of course, kept things lighthearted today in training, and he's continuing to be more of a vocal leader on this team — which will be good for FC Dallas moving forward.
Four draftees made the trip — Nkosi Burgess, Cal Jennings, Manuel Ferriol and Derek Waldeck — and all of them got plenty of reps today in training. Some North Texas SC players also traveled with the team, including Arturo Rodriguez, Imanol Almaguer and Gibran Rayo, and so did U-19 Academy player Tanner Tessmann.
The team is preparing to take on the Vancouver Whitecaps on Saturday here on the training center's campus. Gonzalez has seen lots of positives so far from his group, who will be playing its first MLS side in this year's preseason.