FC Dallas adapt during COVID crisis and prepare for difficult 2020

The COVID crisis is hitting everyone in the football world, and FC Dallas is considering new ways to approach the game both during social distancing and after play is resumed. ASN’s Brian Sciaretta reports


Brian Sciaretta


March 26, 2020

11:10 a.m.

THE SHUTDOWN IN PROGRESS due to the COVID-19 virus is hitting clubs around the world as most leagues have shut down indefinitely. This forced teams to adapt and think about solutions to keep the team together in unusual times.

For FC Dallas, the team takes several to keep their squad engaged, both on football-related and social matters. Head coach Luchi Gonzalez understands that he has one of the youngest teams in the league and that a large number of American youth internationals make up the core of the team.

Like most teams, players train individually with exercises primarily focused on fitness and delivered by members of the coaching staff.

Starting Monday, Gonzalez will start using the Zoom software to organize meetings on the technical side of the game. It will be broken down by position with goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards all having football meetings. distinct group.

During these meetings, Gonzalez and the team plan to go through gameplay videos to intensely analyze the tactics. This will involve not only watching videos of Dallas and other MLS teams that will be opponents once the season resumes, but also watching videos from European clubs to get ideas for different approaches. This will be done in cycles of three weeks.

“We have created a three week cycle of technical and tactical concepts that we will use in small groups in position conference meetings with staff and players,” explained Gonzalez. from the back, build in the middle third, destabilize the middle third to reach the last line, and their role when we are in the attacking third, the transitions. So with counter-principles, what is the role of the backline when we are reorganizing ourselves in the middle block and the defense. What is the role of the bottom line when we are defending low? “

“We are creating fundamentals and principles in each of the groups that we already have,” he added. “But we do them for a three week cycle. That’s all we want to plan for.

But Gonzalez also realizes that the tactics and technique of the game are only one part of building a team. For any successful team, there is also a camaraderie and bond that must be built and maintained.

In the age of social distancing and home isolation, the team concept is likely to become the first victim. For Gonzalez, using technology to keep the team connected is essential, even if that means talking and discussing things outside of football.

“We want to have team calls, in small groups,” Gonzalez said. “We’re going to do a certain level of quiz for the players. The players are going to have some competition with each other. Maybe there are multiplayer video games out there and players can participate in tournaments – even if they have never played video games before. It’s just something that can engage them, stimulate them, and keep everyone together. We’re also going to ask players to share things with us. What are their favorite songs? Favorite movies? Personal things that they may not share in a normal setting. We need to be creative and think outside the box to find ways to stimulate each other and connect. “

Midfielder Paxton Pomykal is a big part of Gonzalez’s plans and the local starting player only recently recovered from hernia surgery in the offseason where he also suffered a setback that forced him to miss the United States national team camp in January and part of the FC Dallas preseason. .

Pomykal contacted his teammates daily and returned home to deal with the global pandemic. It was there that he found a way to train with his brothers and use the family garden to do exercises with the ball – an aspect that many players find difficult.

“This is probably the hardest part of it all – preparing so hard during the preseason, making the effort to prepare for the next nine months and then it was cut short,” said Pomykal. “Then you have to find other things to do and spend your time differently. With the ball, we are limited to our space. Finding time with the ball is the most difficult part.

For Pomykal, the closure came at a particularly difficult time. He had finally recovered from his hernia operation during the offseason and had been feeling better for a long time. Pomykal was also selected for the United States Under-23 team, where he was supposed to be the leader of the Olympic qualifying team.

Gonzalez quickly notices that Pomykal has had to deal with many setbacks recently, but also notes that he will be better off as his career develops in the years to come.

“Paxton is a soldier,” Gonzalez said. “It’s hard when you see that in his eyes and you know in his heart how badly he wants something and for some reason it’s not easy for him. It’s an accomplishment for him and his teammates. His teammates give him a lot of love and support. At the end of last season, his hernia was really bothering him. He was taking the intense pain as best he could.

“Now with the Olympics and he’s worked really hard to gain some opportunities with the senior team,” he continued. “I would say he would be a leader with the U-23 … You can see how calm he is, how mature he is, he puts it into perspective. He comes from a large family. I am really proud of him and happy that he is going through these experiences because it will make him even stronger.

Pomykal was not with the U-23 squad when the Olympic qualifying tournament in Guadalajara was postponed. He was due to join the team at a later date. He spoke with U.S. Under-23 head coach Jason Kreis last week and has been on the phone with teammates Chris Gloster and Djordje Mihailovic to get a feel for the situation.

Despite the disappointment of the postponement, Pomykal sees the bigger picture in the global crisis.

“There are so many more important things to worry about than the Olympics,” Pomykal said. “There are hundreds of thousands of people who are losing their jobs, living from paycheck to paycheck. For me, being upset about a little tournament that is going to happen is selfish. I’m not too upset about it. I am more concerned with the general well-being of everyone.

While MLS still has their sights set on their target return date of May 10, Gonzalez knows the situation remains fluid and events change on a daily basis.

Whenever the ball rolls again in competitive matches (whether behind closed doors or in front of the crowd), Gonzalez understands that teams will be in an uncomfortable and naturally rusty situation, but acknowledges that all teams will be in the same. situation. He also said he hopes to have at least one or two friendlies before the season starts again.

For now, Gonzalez is just going to plan the best he can. One of the things that he says will make this season unique, every time it resumes, is that it will be a real test of depth due to the probably crowded schedule that awaits it.

This factor doesn’t bother Gonzalez as he said his teams are still preparing for the squad rotation due to the players leaving for the national youth team. When asked to release players for the National Youth Team, Dallas has always been cooperative, but it will now be on a “case-by-case” basis.

But regardless, heavy team rotation is now on his mind, and the minds of other coaches, for the rest of the season.

“We were prepared for this this year when we formed our roster,” said Gonzalez. “We were going to have that this year with the Olympic qualifiers, maybe the Euros, and we have a lot of youngsters from the national team. These are all optional versions. We don’t have to send all the players to a U-20 camp… The U-20 playoffs and the U-17 World Cup are important moments for the players and we support those things.

“Due to the density of the new calendar that could come out .. it will be difficult weeks where everyone will have to be ready to contribute,” he added. “I have to be very aware of our players and the miles on their legs, their mental state and their health. We will certainly question our lists. I believe at the end of the season, when there is an MLS Cup winner, it will be the team that had the depth and all the teams found solutions.

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