FRISCO, Texas – Although we’re still in the middle of the offseason, six FC Dallas Homegrowns have been hard at work over half a world away from Toyota Stadium.
Justin Che, Edwin Cerrillo, Ricardo Pepi, Thomas Roberts, Dante Sealy and Brandon Servania recently completed a three-week training stint with FC Bayern Munich in Germany—an annual trip for select FCD Homegrowns as part of the club’s player development partnership with the 30-time German champions.
For the group’s three youngest players – Che, Pepi and Sealy – it was a new experience training at the state-of-the art Bayern Campus in the north of Munich.
“My first response was that I was shocked a little bit,” Che said about be included on the trip. “I was stoked about the whole idea because that opportunity doesn’t come often, to be able to train in one of the best environments out there. So, I was just stoked and excited for whatever was going to come next.”
The experience was particularly fruitful for Che who agreed to a five-month loan deal to Bayern’s second team, Bayern Munich II, after the three-weeks were up. It’s the second deal of its kind after former FCD defender Chris Richards joined Bayern on loan in 2018 following his own temporary training stint. Richards has since gone on to sign permanently with FCB’s first team and is currently loaned out to fellow Bundesliga side, Hoffenheim.
"Seeing Chris go through the ranks here inspires us." 🇺🇸— 🇺🇸 FC Bayern US 🇨🇦 (@FCBayernUS) February 6, 2021
Before beginning his loan with Hoffenheim, @eastmamba caught up with the six @FCDallas players training with @FCBjuniorteam to share his FC Bayern experience. 🔴⚪#MiaSanFamily pic.twitter.com/0E7yAUvrr7
But the Bayern experience isn’t only valuable for the players who stay beyond the original three weeks. For all FCD trainees, it’s a chance to learn from the continent’s top youth coaches at Bayern’s world-class facilities.
“Training over there is intense,” said Pepi, who also traveled to Munich for last year’s trip but had to remain on the sidelines due to a lingering ankle injury. “There’s a lot of technical aspects to the game over there with ball movement and ball recovery. I’d say there was a lot of running because that’s something that they look for there.”
“Their style of play is very challenging because it’s the top team in Europe,” Sealy added. “It’s a great environment in terms of training and playing. And the Bayern Campus is by far the best I’ve seen. I got some feedback from high-level coaches that I know will help me in the long run. So, I think I improved as a player.”
"Tengo que reconocer que estoy muy sorprendido positivamente". 🙌— 🏆🏆🏆 FC Bayern München Español 🏆🏆🏆 (@FCBayernES) February 10, 2021
Martín Demichelis y @Ricardo_Pepi9 de @FCDallas hablan de la visita de los jugadores del club de la @MLS al Campus de Múnich en enero.#MiaSanFamily #SomosFCBayern pic.twitter.com/9uY15iGGtO
Perhaps the biggest benefit, though, is that it allows the Homegrowns to see how they compete at the highest level of youth development the game has to offer.
“I’d say my biggest takeaway was being able to compare myself to the football over there,” Pepi concluded. “I want to get my level to where they’re at and I know there’s work to be done, but also I’m happy to know where I am compared to them. The experience to go train with Bayern and see the environment in Europe. That’s the biggest takeaway I had.”
“I realized that we’re not far from trying to make it at the next level,” Sealy said. “You’ve got to keep working every day and keep the main vision in sight. I look at Chris Richards as an example of the process. He went through this and now he’s playing with Bayern’s first team. So, it’s right there and we’ve got to keep focused.”