Today was basically the only full practice FCD will have before Friday's game in DC United and it was also the most populated practice they've had in a few weeks. It was a great day to go to practice as they basically scrimmaged for the entire length of practice, stopping for defending and attacking set pieces at different times. A very entertaining session to watch.
Shea and Castillo are back Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo returned to FCD training this morning and both looked good. I think the pitch is about the only place where Shea can escape the disappointment of the Olympics elimination and he looks like a guy who could certainly be an option to start on Friday if Schellas decides it's been enough rest time since Monday.
Fabian Castillo trained nearly fully today playing on the right wing and he had some very nice moments. He will be more of a question mark on whether he starts or not on Friday, but both guys are certainly options
No sign of... Carlos Rodriguez, who is returning to FC Dallas today and could feature as a substitute in Washington DC. David Ferreira was not around today, no word on why, and Jonathan Top was not there due to an illness.
Regarding Villar He didn't practice today, but as Schellas Hyndman will tell you later, that guy is so tough that you really expect him to be out there. Interestingly, Brian Leyva was played in the starting attacking mid role for FCD today, but I'd be very surprised if you see that on Friday.
Richard Sanchez will be starting for FC Dallas rather than Mexico U20 at Dallas Cup per the request of FCD. Their starting goalkeeper, Caleb Underwood, broke his leg last month so with FCD short at the position, it's not a huge surprise.
The whole dynamic changes when Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo are on the pitch. It's really amazing. No disrespect to Jair Benitez and Bryan Leyva, who are both playing out of position on the wings, but this team just changes so much with those guys out there. I think it's 50/50 that both of them start, but if they do, you'll see Dallas just one piece away from the first choice 11. It's a big piece(Ferreira), but still they can finally start the season in earnest.
Keep reading for much more
The backline should return to the normal 4-4-2 with either Hernan Pertuz or George John dropping to the bench and Benitez dropping to left back. My guess is Pertuz starts as his passing is just so silky smooth right now and he's really earned the position, but we will see.
From the reserves I really like what Alex Lee is doing right now. He's not really close to breaking through to the first team unless Zach Loyd picks up an injury, but for part of the practice he was playing with the first team and I think he's a guy Schellas is beginning to trust. It's going to be interesting to see how close this guy is to the first team next year.
A thought on depth While the last few weeks have been trying for FCD, in terms of depth and not having the XI out there that you want, the last couple of weeks have also shown Schellas that maybe he has a deeper bench than he thought once every one is back. This weekend at DC, you're potentially looking at a bench of Seitz, Pertuz/John, Guarda, Warshaw, Rodriguez, Leyva, Perea. That's really getting pretty strong and you've got someone you can bring off the bench for every situation. FCD is still probably one, maybe two players away from having a full bench, but it's getting close.
A thought on Olympic defeat The Olympic defeat has quite clearly(and understandably) hit Brek pretty hard, He was not willing to talk about Olympic qualifying questions with the media and as I said earlier, perhaps getting right back on the pitch playing for FC Dallas is the best thing he can do at this point to put the disappointment of Monday's game behind him. Schellas talks about it later, saying all he can do as a coach is tell Brek that he's here for him if he needs anything.
First off, let me say this was my first time to talk to Fabian and I came away impressed in terms of he's a guy that speaks clearly, smiles when he speaks and looks you in the face when he's talking to you. I won't name names, but some guys aren't like that, so you like to see it from a young leader like Fabian who is still just 19 years old. Thanks to Cesar Velasco of FCD for facilitating the translation
How are you feeling with practice today and do you think you can play in the game coming up on Friday?
The practice was really strong, I pushed myself to my limits. I was feeling very good on the field and I think that I am feeling right now, that I'm ready to jump on the field if I'm required to do so on Friday.
So you're feeling totally recuperated?
I'm feeling completely recovered and yes I feel 100% on the field. Still, I have a little bit of a pain I'm feeling when I do some movements on the field, but with any injury once you get on the field there's still going to be a little bit of discomfort and a little bit of pain but the pain is something I can put up with it and it's not affecting my game.
Schellas has been playing you on the left and the right in the past, does it matter which side you play on and where do you feel most comfortable?
I've always felt better on the left side, but that's a position Brek is playing and we know he is a top player, so he's pulling me to play on the right side which is not my strong side, but I can play that as well and wherever I'm required to play as long as I'm contributing with the first team that's what I'm looking for.
This is your second year in Dallas now, how are you feeling in terms of comfort in the city and how have you seen MLS?
Regarding coming to Dallas, the toughest part was the first two months and in those two months, I did well and contributed to the team and became a player that was important for the team and that made the adaptation easier.
In terms of MLS, it's a league that's become stronger every year. There are stronger teams, it's a lot more competitive, there's a lot more new teams coming in and raising the level of competition. I expect the league to grow and get stronger and continue to take steps into getting closer to the leagues in the world like England and that's where we want to be as a league with our football.
One of your bigger strengths is your pace, are you feeling like you are back at full speed as far as your running regarding your injury?
I feel that the recovery has been great, with the trainer has been excellent. I feel I'm ready to jump on the field and start playing and like they say in Colombia, I want to be recharged with the batteries and kick the ball and give 100%.
Talk about how you're feeling physically, the first day back with Dallas and if you're able to go on Friday
Yeah, I'm glad to be back with the team. It's obviously bittersweet but I'm excited to be back with the guys and get going with the season and get going on Friday.
Are you tired, is fatigue an issue right now?
I mean I've got a couple knocks, knees to the leg, but nothing serious.
Are you expecting to play Friday?
I'll do whatever the boss asks
Coming back to MLS from the national team, how do you transition, is there any difference?
I mean just come out and try to play and obviously it's different players and different systems. Obviously I've been with this team for awhile and know how they play, just hope we get a win on Friday.
Obviously your presence on the left side was clearly missed while you were gone, do you feel like you're becoming a leader on the team in that sense?
I think I just give a different ability, being able to get in behind, get some crosses and some shots. Just a different style.
Lots more later from Schellas...