FRISCO, Texas — FC Dallas defeated Bayern Munich’s under-23s 4-0 as preparation for the 2019 Major League Soccer season continued Saturday.
The team previously had scrimmages — intrasquad and against Houston Baptist University — but this was the first friendly at Toyota Stadium.
As Luchi Gonzalez continues his transition to FCD’s head coach, one of his staples is attention to detail. The coaching staff can often be seen after practice, talking to players about specific positioning and key elements the team wants to perfect before the season, such as moments of possession and build-up play. Traces of that were on display Saturday.
“You start noticing those little things,” midfielder Jacori Hayes said. “The centerback plays you, you lay it back off to the guy you’re facing, he finds the higher guy — you do start noticing those patterns. It’s a little bit different because it’s a lot faster pace with opponents pressuring you and stuff like that, but it’s nice to see that, and your brain goes back to those moments on the training ground and you’re calmer, because you know ‘I’ve been through this. I recognize this pattern. I know I should go here or there.'”
Gonzalez’s system hinges on playing out of the back. FC Dallas captain and centerback Matt Hedges said defenders have been working hard on that all preseason, and it’s starting to show.
“We’ve been training really well and the last couple of scrimmages [the tactics] were starting to come out, but today it was more evident,” Hedges said.
The starters played 70 minutes before subbing off for an entirely new team, something planned by Gonzalez prior to the match. It was a difficult week of training for many. The preseason took on another level in preparation for friendlies against other MLS teams in Tucson next week.
Reggie Cannon returned Monday from camp with the United States Men’s National Team and began working to transition from U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter’s system to Gonzalez’s. Cannon, too, was encouraged by Saturday’s performance.
“I think the team went out very confidently,” Cannon said. “I like the style of play that we are playing and I think Luchi has kind of incorporated his own tactics into what we’re doing right now. Last year, Oscar was a great coach and we always respected what we had to do. It was more defensive-minded, and now Luchi is opening up the game, he’s kinda giving us that breath of fresh air. It’s like we can play. We’re not afraid to play out of the back and he told us, ‘We’re gonna lose the ball out of the back. We’re gonna lose ’em. We’re going to get scored on, but we’re going to keep going. This is our style of play and we can’t abandon it just because something bad happens.'”
Hayes added a goal Saturday, to go along with his defensive midfield presence. Forward Dominique Badji held off his defender and played a ball back to Hayes, who one-timed his shot past goalkeeper Michael Netolitzky in the 15th minute.
Hayes is having another quality start to the season after starting seven straight games at the beginning of 2018 before moving to the bench behind Victor Ulloa.
“I got a good length of minutes,” Hayes said. “It’s the first long stretch of minutes this season, and I think we showed really well. . . . We’re trying to show the tactics that we learned in the first couple weeks of preseason, and it’s just Step 1. Even though we showed well, there’s a lot to improve on and we’re still looking forward to our first game on March 2.”