FCD returned to the practice field(a little later today) in preparation for the big game in Kansas City tomorrow against the red hot Wizards. It was an extremely crisp and compact practice from a team that seems very focused on the job at hand. Not a lot of messing around today as the team is hopping on a bus after practice.
The bulk of practice is spent on a short field scrimmage and corners/free kicks between starters and reserves. After warmups, there was probably only about 30 minutes worth of true practice. Obviously, you don't want anyone getting injured the day before a game with as many starters as will be out tomorrow.
-Ugo is one of the first out of the locker room today onto the practice field. He warmed up with the team, but did not participate in contact drills. George John was rehabbing on the side. At this point, George John is almost the bigger worry for me. I'm pretty confident Ugo will be out there by the last home game against Colorado if he's beginning to train now, but John is a week or two behind schedule. More on these guys in the quotes...
-Dario looks sharp and back to his old self. Huge credit to the guy for completely changing his approach to the game and working hard to stay in shape while Hartman takes over in a goal that was once his.
-Probably the best player of the practice was Zach Loyd. He rose above everyone to score a sweet header on one of the first free kicks and sent in some great crosses after practice. With his versatility, it's going to be tough to keep this kid off the field when Ugo and George John return. I am still wondering if Schellas has plans to groom him into the defensive mid role eventually.
Jump for some good stuff from Schellas and Dario ahead of tomorrow's game and a couple more bits
-Daniel Hernandez and Kevin Hartman rehabbing on the side as well. Hartman isn't walking with any sort of noticeable limp and it wouldn't surprise me to see him back sooner rather than later.
-I think we'll see a very similar lineup on Saturday with the biggest questions being who starts at forward and will Dax get the start again. It's always tough to call whether it's Milton or Jeff starting, but my gut says Milton again despite Jeff's goal...more on that in the quotes. Dax starting is a question mark simply because you wonder if the team wants to risk putting too many minutes on him too quickly after his long layoff.
Talk about Kansas City, they’re a team fairly similar to the position FC Dallas was in last year
Exactly, I think they’re very similar. We fought awfully hard, we had a great run and were probably the team nobody wanted to play last year at the time. They’re in a similar situation, they have a game in hand, they’re playing with emotion, they won against Chivas and now they come back and win down two goals against Houston. That shows a lot of character, a lot of belief and we’re hoping that we can go in there and match their intensity which is going to be a key for us and also try to adjust to that field as quickly as possible.
Do those similarities between KC this year and Dallas last year help you game plan for this one?
To a point, we know what it’s like to be in a desperate mode and last year we were in a desperate mode. What ends up happening is when you find results it adds on to your confidence and your belief and it adds to that work ethic. As far as that, that’s something we’re expecting. The other part is that they’re really a good team. They’re having the right players play well at the right time. They’re strong in the air, athletic, they can be physical and match up with a team that’s physical.
The small field, does that help or hurt the team?
If you have size, a small field always helps you, if you’re physical a small field helps you. If you’re a team that wants to open up the game and play indirect, a smaller field hurts you because it just doesn’t give you time or space. That’s what I meant when I said we need to adjust to the field quickly.
Ugo’s out here, is he getting closer?
We keep going back to the importance of being extra careful and he’ll let us know when he’s ready.
Would guys like Ugo and George be pushed more if the playoffs were starting next week?
We’ve got five games over the rest of the season and hopefully we can get ourselves into the playoffs and once we’re in the playoffs hopefully our team will be intact.
Are you going to look into resting players like David Ferreira once the team does qualify for the playoffs?
The whole focus is to get into the playoffs, once we get those points to where we know teams can’t pass us then we’ll sit down and go through that train of thought and we’ll sit down and talk to players to see how they feel as well.
Any changes to the lineup this weekend?
No right now we’re going to stay with what we’ve been doing. I think the game against New England was a telling tale of what we need to be concerned about. Part of it is not having Daniel Hernandez is a greater blow for us than we thought it would be because we don’t have players that can fill that leadership role. The Brek Shea suspension hurts and Ugo, Hartman, George, all the players who have been so important to this team I think it’s remarkable the players who have stepped up.
Talk about how Jeff and Milton swap starting roles and how it’s working
I think it is really a little bit easier to come off the bench when things are set because the game’s already set. You’re defending a lead so you bring in a bit of a more defensive player or you’re behind trying to chase the game so you bring in an attacking player. We brought in Ruben and Jeff who’s been outstanding for us because he’s focused on scoring a goal to help the team win. He’s got lively legs where defenders have just gone through 50 or 60 minutes of hard running and your train of thought has to change.
What kind of problems does KC bring?
The size of the field is the biggest problem that we’re going to face. Besides that, they’re really motivated and playing with a lot of heart with their win at Chivas and coming back against Houston. Houston normally is a team that fights all the time for every ball. Also with the extra motivation they having trying to gain qualification(for the playoffs) as well.
Does the game last year come into your mind at all?
Hopefully we don’t receive that many goals and keep going with the low goals against. Hopefully we can come back to the clean sheet. I really want to have one win personally and I’m working really hard to get it so hopefully it can come my way.
It may not be the circumstances you wanted, but does it feel good to be back in goal?
It feels great because all your hard work pays off but you never want to get into a house breaking the window. I think Kevin has been great and hopefully he can comeback soon because the playoffs are right away and we need it from everyone, George, Ugo, Brek Shea, Hernandez, we need everyone.
You’ve been here awhile, is this team better than any Dallas team you’ve been on?
About talent, probably not, individual talent in 2006 we had in each position and got 14 wins during the season. It wasn’t the group of people and the right commitment from that team. I think in this team we have more sacrifice and the things that matter at the end, who sacrificed more who fought more? Obviously we didn’t do that in 2006 and I’m more confident in this year than any other year…I believe this is the best team and locker room I’ve had with FC Dallas, no doubt about it.
Practice Live 9_24 Raw Quote Sheet with a couple bonus questions