FRISCO, Texas – “Now off the volley...OH WHAT A HIT! Welcome to Dallas, Andrés Ricaurte!”
FC Dallas commentator Mark Followill’s call of Andrés Ricaurte’s stunning volley against Houston Dynamo will live long in the memory for FC Dallas fans—and for the Colombian midfielder himself.
And not just because it was against Dallas’ main rival. The goal perfectly summed up the profile of the player. Calm, poise, technique, and a left foot that can bring fans to their feet.
It really was a dream introduction for a new signing making his home debut and first start for the club. And it’s all-the-more more impressive with the circumstances surrounding Ricaurte’s arrival in Dallas.
The then 28-year-old Ricaurte joined Dallas midway through the truncated 2020 season, and more crucially, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. It meant he moved from his native Colombia without his family by his side.
“Leaving the country alone without my wife, daughter and leaving my family behind in Colombia was not easy,” he admitted. “I would enjoy going to the training sessions and after that it was difficult going back to an empty home. Luckily, we now have technology and social media make it easier to talk to my loved ones but it’s not the same as seeing them in person.”
The differences – especially physical ones – between MLS and Colombia’s Categoría Primera A meant Ricaurte needed to adapt on the field, too. Shortly after his arrival, Ricaurte worked one-on-one with FC Dallas’ athletic performance coach Vander Salas.
“The physical work I did the first couple of days with Vander helped me get in shape for the league,” Ricaurte explained. “It helped me get to where I needed to be because the intensity here in the MLS is much higher than in Colombia. The adaptation process helped me get ready in the best way possible.”
Though helpful, individual workout sessions are no substitute for a full preseason—something Ricaurte will surely benefit from this time around. It’s also an opportunity for Ricaurte and fellow newcomers to learn Luchi Gonzalez’s playing philosophy without the interruption of three competitive games per week, as was the case last year.
“Preseason is very important for all the players,” he said. “It helps us fill up our oxygen tanks, so we are able to last throughout the season. It will help all of us understand the concept we will play, get our conditioning in, and having the team united from the beginning will help preseason go smoothly.”
Now that his family has moved to Dallas, and with a full preseason under his belt, it’s possible we could see an even better Ricaurte in 2021.
“(My family’s) support is extra support for me…Regardless of what goes on in our personal lives, soccer helps us get away from many things that go on off the field. Having my family there in the stands will be very motivational for me.”