FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas continued preparing for the 2019 MLS preseason Saturday with an intrasquad scrimmage. Many players hoped to impress new coach Luchi Gonzalez during the competition.
Three squads with a mix of starters and reserves from last season and draft picks rotated as each team played each other to show their progression after the opening week.
“We mixed teams so that they could help their teammates be better — whoever they are, whether they’re a signed player or not — to develop this mentality of giving the person next to you better rather expect something of them,” Gonzalez told reporters after the scrimmage. “That’s important in our culture off the field, on the field. And then as we start to filter and narrow down into making a potential starting team, a potential roster, then they all have the right mindset for those decisions to be made.”
Rondos were again at the center of the fundamentals for the squads, along with using those skills to work out of high-pressure situations. Long balls out of the back were rare during the matches. Each squad was encouraged to play from the back, instead of lumping balls forward.
“There was pressure, high pressure, and we played out of it with movement, with confidence, with technique, with awareness and with togetherness,” Gonzalez said. “There’s two parts to that. One team can get frustrated because they’re breaking, their pressure was broken, and they’ve got to learn from that – to press better. The other team learns, ‘Hey, we can play out of this pressure, and vice versa, where the pressure was good so they try to reward themselves with the transition to goal and the other team needs to learn, ‘Hey, when we’re playing out, we need to be a little better with this decision, this timing.’
“I believe in challenging those things. It should not be simple, it should not be easy, because then they don’t learn from their mistakes.”
Although it was an early test, some players impressed during the scrimmage. Academy player Edwin Cerrillo was calm and composed in the midfield, not showing signs of his youth even when pitted against senior players such as Carlos Gruezo. Cerrillo is the only academy player listed on FC Dallas’ preseason roster.
“He’s doing well. He’s a player that’s very respectful of where he is, but he’s all about taking steps, so it was a positive performance by him,” Gonzalez said.
The team will continue ramping up its internal competition during the next week. New Brazilian centerback signing Bressan will arrive Sunday. Some other players struggled to get visa approval due to the government shutdown. Others, such as right back Reggie Cannon and new designated player Bryan Acosta will join the squad in the coming weeks as well.
FCD will have its first scrimmage against another squad next weekend, facing off against the Bayern Munich U-23’s and Houston Baptist University. The team will continue to add more phases of play, hoping to build upon the tactics learned already.
“We have a plan, we’ll probably add more transition,” Gonzalez said. “Three to five seconds getting the ball back, into our rondo games and then incorporate XI players in the build and not just the backs or mids. How the fronts are important: creating space for us to find solutions bringing the ball from front to back. We’re going to do more attacking, more last third stuff. We’re going to do some mid-block now, dealing with breaking a mid-block down and doing it in different ways.”
Overall, Gonzalez is happy with his squad and the dynamic in his locker room so far.
“This next week will be more competitive than this last week, in a positive way, a constructive way,” Gonzalez said. “If someone falls out of line, they’ll have to learn what is the way. The team is the most important thing. I see a great locker room — not a perfect locker room, not a nice locker room, not an ass**** locker room — just a good, balanced locker room.”