As is customary on the day before home games, FCD trained on the stadium field this morning in preparations for tomorrow's huge showdown with New York. It doesn't get much better than standing in the shade on the stage watching the team train at a good, crisp pace.
-George John was training on the side today. This is a step backwards from yesterday, though Schellas called him a game-time decision for tomorrow night. Dallas needs him out there, but is an 85% George John better than a 100% Kyle Daves or 90% Jackson...
-Speaking of Jackson, he trained fully today and would almost certainly be the starting center back opposite Zach Loyd if George can't go.
-Dax McCarty trained fully and looked thrilled to be out there. He played with the reserves against the starters today, but it's almost 100% that he'll be in the 18 tomorrow night. You've got some easier games in the next few weeks to rotate him back into the starting lineup.
-The only other question in the starting lineup besides Jackson or George John as the starting CB is the battle at forward. There's more to come in the quotes, but today it was Milton Rodriguez playing with the first team. Again it's 50-50 on who starts, but with Cunningham starting in San Jose, I think it's Milton who gets the chance tomorrow night. Cunningham seems to be playing better off the bench lately anyways.
More observations and some great stuff from Schellas after the jump
-Heath Pearce's mustache is back. He's shaved the beard and it's back to the Magnum PI for "Carlos" or "Bandito"
-Andrew Wiedeman had a gorgeous looping header over Kevin Hartman off a corner today. Hopefully he's rounding into form.
-It was a fairly quiet practice for most of the group with some short field scrimmaging and set piece work. It's going to be a big game for the defense and that's where most of the emphasis was
-Brian Leyva has to be one of the best free kick takers on the team. Just beautiful placement on about 5 free kicks in a row from 25 yards out.
Just Schellas today, but lots of good stuff.
Is George John out?
Again it’ll be a game-time decision. What we didn’t want to do is push him into this exercise and hurt home so again it’ll be a game-time decision.We’ll test him before the game
Do you feel comfortable putting Dax on the bench?
Yeah, I think it’s been 8 weeks. He’s gotta go to the bench sometime whether it’s this week, next week or two weeks from now. So I think he’s an important part to this team. I think the team has done remarkably well without him, but getting him on the bench means he could get maybe 20 minutes. But I think we would not be dressing him if he didn’t pass his tests and this is the first time he’s been able to pass his tests.
Talk about how Milton and Jeff looked in practice
No difference, the same. They’ve looked exactly the same since they’ve been here…the two of them are a good duo for us as we play our 4-1-4-1 system. They’re competing and the each bring their own special things.
How big is tomorrow night’s game can you quantify that?
I think they’re going to lock in a position either number 1 or number 2 in the East. I think that’s going to be what they’re aiming at. So they’re aiming at this game to continue to validate how good of a team they are and the addition of their players, they’re a team that finds the deep pockets to get those players that make a difference.
For us, it’s a big game because we’re playing against a team that we didn’t think we should’ve lost up there, but you know they’re a different team today than they were then. They may be the most talented team in the league as far as offensive danger. For us it continues our streak, our home field, it continues to where we want to be and again a good test for us.
We’re going into it more banged up than the first time we played them. For us, it’s not just this game it’s every game.
It seems there’s a lot of talk about Marquez and Henry a lot of people haven’t been talking about Angel… talk about him.
He’s been an absolute thorn in the FC Dallas side. He’s such a good player and I’ve felt like he’s been the best striker in the last for the past few years. What he needs is services, he needs a team that finds him. He does a fantastic job finishing and he also does a great job on separation. All of a sudden he disappears and there he is at the end of the ball and puts in a goal. He’s definitely a player that’s hurt us probably more than anyone else in the league
Ferreira’s been having a tough couple of games with players kicking him and pulling him…do you think that’s a problem in the league with referee’s not protecting the marquis players?
I think two things…He’s been around long enough to know how important he is to our team. He’s been around long enough in the league, all-star player, so that the officiating should know he’s a marquis player, but I don’t think they give him the same level of marquis player as Landon Donovan, David Beckham and others that we’re seeing and I think that’s a huge disappointment.
I also think at some level, some of the officiating has protected him. There’s a reason why he’s the most fouled player in the league and if he wasn’t as tough as he is, we would’ve seen him on the sidelines and in the locker room too often. I think the two last games we’ve played in particular, Toronto and San Jose, there was definitely a note of stop him and you stop FC Dallas. OK, fine, but call the fouls.
I have no problem with trying to stop him, but you’ve got to protect him and call the fouls.
What are your thoughts on the 34 game schedule?
I think it becomes a balanced schedule doesn’t it…We’ve been in meeting and conference calls and this is something I felt was very important to have a balanced schedule. I think you need to play every team home and away.
There’s more equity than to be in conferences where let’s say you play less games but you play one team on the road, New York, but you don’t play New York at home. How is that fair? And if New York’s got all these marquis players, our fans don’t get a chance to see them. So I think for many reasons, the balanced schedule is the best way.
How does that longer schedule make every position on the roster more important?
Absolutely and the roster is going to be extended…we’re at a 24 man roster and with home grown players we’ve really got a 26 man roster, next year it’s going to be a 30 man roster. So the league was very sensitive to hey we’re going to add more games, we want you to have more players. So for a team like Dallas, who really counts on our homegrown players..to be a part of their 30 man roster, I think that helps because now we’re giving more game to our younger players as well.
What are your thoughts on the moves in Toronto yesterday?
I guess I’m a coach with a lot of empathy you know, this doesn’t relate to me or my tenure, what it relates to is I know every coach works very hard in this league. Curt Onalfo worked very hard, Preki works very hard and whenever there’s a change I feel for the coach, I feel for the coach’s family but I don’t like in that shoe day to day so I don’t know what’s going on.
It seems like the triggers have been pulled quite early. How long does it take for a coach to get his team in place? How long does it take for a team to follow the instructions and job responsibilities that are going on? So it seems like if you don’t get the results early then they’re quick to make judgment. The famous statement is players win games, coaches lose them.
So being a coach I’m a little bit sensitive to that, but at the same time I’m very appreciative to the Hunt Sports Group for giving me the time I needed to get my players in here and make the changes I felt necessary.