Today FC Dallas had their next to last meaningful practice of the season on the Adidas Field. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, light jacket weather.
-Lots of media out there today. At least 3 video cameramen and a couple of other still shot guys as well as 5 or 6 writers including two from the Dallas Morning News. The lyrics "back then they didn't want me, now I'm hot they all on me" come to mind. Not that it's a bad thing, this is the kind of coverage a major league team deserves and it's great to see all the interest. Baby steps.
-Loyd, Hernandez, Jackson, Pearce, Milton and Davies held out of practice today. Nothing major for Loyd, Hernandez and Jackson...just the team not wanting to risk anything. While last week Milton looked like he was done for the year, he looked a completely different man today. More on that in the quotes
-Lots of finishing practice and scrimmaging today. Nothing terribly intense today, just a lot of light hearted practicing from a team that is clearly 100% on the same page.
-Season ticket sales are doing well. I won't say specific numbers, but season ticket sales are way up from where they were a couple of weeks ago. Not to where they need to be, but good to hear.
Read on for probably the best quotes of the year from Schellas, Hartman, Dario, Hernandez and Avi after the jump
Our main focus right now is how can we now continue into this historic moment for FC Dallas and for the Dalllas community. It's a great challenge and we're looking forward to competing for a championship
Talk about the injury situation
It's basically all cautionary. If anyone's got a bump or bruise right now, I don't want it to get any worse in training. Right now it's an exciting week, there's a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of players who want to be a part of the 18. Not that anyone's interested in hurting a teammate but that enthusiasm may carrry over so this is really cautious...all of them could train today but basically were taking it easier
Surprisingly Milton's really made some great recoveries. I think the trainers and doctors have been very surprised how well he's done. He could very well make that top 18 this weekend.
Heath I haven't gotten the report on yet, but it's a little bit different when you have an injury like a hamstring because at some point in time you have to open up and explode and he hasn't shown us he can do that yet.
Was Sunday night the culmination of 2 1/2 years of hard work?
Yeah and I said to the players today 'I don't think we played better than the game we played on Sunday. At least this year, with my age I forget about the other years. This year I think this was our best game of the year. Because I think it wasn't just the players following an assignment and having good tactics...The area that I think we were all so impressed with was the determination of our players and how hard they worked and how hard they held each other to a standard of work. It was a pretty special game and it may go down as one of the best games FC Dallas has this year.
A lot of times when a team has their best game of the season you may see a let down in the next week, how do you prevent against that?
We talked about it today because all of a sudden we have more media attention, we're going to have more media attention when we go up there. Ownership has really embraced this opportunity, we're bringing the staff with us and families with us so there's a lot of things that can distract what the objective is. I told the players that my main job this week is to keep you focused and you can help me by policing each other as well.
Understand everything we did this season is to get us to this moment. There's going to be loved ones and people that are emotionally involved and so happy for us but in some ways we've got to be able to keep them aside until after the game so we can do what we want to do.
Go over Colorado's defense and the problems they present as opposed to LA last week
I think it's going to be pretty similar. The defense with Marvell(Wynne) in the center, tremendous athlete could be one of the best athletes in the league. When you're that gifted as an athlete, not only do you do your job but sometimes you're there a foot away from helping someone else. Drew Moor who knows us very well, very good defender could very well be in the top XI. Then you look at the left side Anthony Wallace who knows us very well who we helped Colorado quite a bit by trading him there...and he's playing with a lot of confidence and starting for them. Just a very very good player that was very difficult to trade him.
Kimura on the right side is an unbelievable player as far as activities and hard work and determination and I think that defense is very hard.
What I think makes that team so successful though is their two midfielders Mastroeni and Larentowicz. Those two are very very good holding the center midfield and then you've got the two guys up front who could be the best two in the league tandem with Casey and Omar.
Does it surprise you to see Anthony Wallace in the starting lineup?
Wally was a player that we kept giving opportunities to and then we started bring in other players like Jair and then we brought in Heath so his playing time was really diminishing. Before we made the trade to Colorado I talked to Wally and I told him
'this trade is on the table but if you want me to I'll call it off, we think that much of you but I really want you to consider that this might be the opportunity you need. Just going to another team that needs a player like you where here we don't need another left back'
He took the challenge and I'll tell you what it took him three or four weeks to get their attention and now he's starting for them.
Bruce Arena said after the game on Sunday he was outcoached. What does that mean to you?
First of all, that's quite a statement for any coach to make to another coach. When you get a statement like that from one of the greatest coaches in the history of US Soccer, it's obviously very humbling and very well recieved on my part and very well appreciated. I think the thing that really happened in the game is we had players that stepped up that had fantastic moments and you can think about the four spectacular saves Kevin Hartman made in the first half.
How tough was it to make the decision to trade Drew Moor
It really is(a hard call to make). We don't talk about those kind of things very often but that was one that really became a shocker. No one was really prepared for it. I think it was a decision we had to make at that time for what our needs were. For Drew who grew up in Dallas and is a great role model in Dallas, well well loved in Dallas it was like pulling teeth, very difficult. I don't know if some people have yet to forgive me but at the same time every decision that's made is what's best for the team.
Talk about the role John Ellinger has played on your staff
The one thing any of us want as coaches is people that are with us. People that will help us through whether it's suggestions or whether it's loyalty taking care of your back. This is a bumpy road being a professional coach and sometimes you have some landmines going off you're not ready for. He's been tremendous, he got me acclimatized to whats going on in the league, the rules, players and the trades and the level of soccer in the league.
It came to a point in time where I was here with a college background and great soccer knowledge but I didn't know if it could translate to this level so John was fantastic and still is.
What does the game against LA mean
It means nothing now it means that we were able to get on to the next round and to have the opportunity to try to win a championship but our goal from day one has been to win the championship.
I know some people talked about us just making playoffs or whatever the case may be but when you get to be 36 years old like me you don't have too many more opportunites at championships so for us to have the opportunity to go to Toronto is something that we relish and everything is geared towards our success on Sunday at this point
Talk about the preparations for Colorado
I think we took Sunday evening and Monday a little bit to savor the victory but we know what lies ahead, a very very good Colorado team. They have so many different assets, they're a wonderful group of guys and I know they've worked very very hard to get where they are and so we're prepared to face a very difficult test and like I said all preparation now on and off the field is geared towards Sunday evening.
Talk about what it means to go to MLS Cup as the longest tenured player here
For me it's really really special. I've won only three championships in my career. I've busted my butt to get here and finally with this group of players it's possible. I have to thank Schellas and the players to give me this opportunity even if I'm not going to play. I feel really good, I had a really happy year and every time you win and go to the locker room the environment is beautiful.....
It was good detail from the office to bring the champagne and the celebration from the locker room to the hotel to the airport and out here everyone waiting for us. It's been really good to see how the city has been touched by what we accomplished and it's priceless for us.
How do you stop Omar Cummings and Conor Casey
Yeah probably they have the best offensive lineup but we have the best team so far. It's going to be a good match, everyone all the broadcasting people the experts called New York, LA and Salt Lake but I think the two best teams in the league were Colorado and us. Even in the last part of the season Colorado went to LA and beat them also Colorado was leading 2-0 vs Salt Lake....we talked with the guys and our attitude is always the underdog and FC Dallas has been the underdog forever as we both know.
Talk about what going to the championship means with all the fans you've come to know in your time here
That's amazing for the community of soccer in Frisco and Pizza Hut Park because we know each other. It's like we meet in the parking lot, I know the fans and they know me. They come here, they go freezing for friendly games, they go to Oklahoma, whatever.
To see them enjoy this moment as much as we do and we give them a little happiness for all the support they've given us over the years is something that is priceless for us. We need to do it for the players, the families, we have our personal goals but we are always thankful for the people who go and pay for the tickets. Season ticket holders which is the heart and soul of FC Dallas....This is a moment we've been waiting for six years.
With the success that the team has been having this year, do you hope it brings more attention to the sport in the metroplex?
Definitely, we've been waiting on ya'll to come out here all season. So you know hopefully it works, obviously there's times where we feel like we don't get enough media attention, we're not getting enough support from the media. And all that comes with people want to be interested in a winning team. I think we've developed that culture of winning and we hope ya'll keep coming out because we know there's thousands of people out there in the city of Dallas that love soccer and want to see us getting that attention...
We know the more ya'll come out, the more people will be interested in the sport and FC Dallas. At the end of the day this is the city of Dallas' team. This is a professional soccer team and the one we want everyone to support and hopefully with the better media attention we get it will bring more fan support and we'll just be that much more successful.
You've seen what happened with the Rangers this season because at the start of the year no one heard anything about them
I know it, I think there's plenty of fans around the city of Dallas to support all the teams. There's hundreds of thousands of kids just in dallas that play soccer...I think it's important for every sport to get their bit of publicity and we don't feel any different. Obviously we know how Dallas is, they want winners and we think at this point we've done a great job this year. Hopefully we can come back with a championship trophy.
Talk about what qualifying for champions league means to you
It's huge, a lot of people haven't really been talking about that much, they've been talking about first time winning Western Conference Championship and going to MLS Cup which is huge but there's other things that help the club too. You get notoriety playing in international games which I assume this is the first time Dallas has been in this situation. I think it's huge for the club, I 100% feel confident that this is one of the better franchises in MLS.
How does it help the younger guys like Victor and Moises to get them experience?
That's big for all the young guys. Anyone but especially the young guys...We'll be playing most of the Mexican and central american teams so for all the latin guys on the team its especially huge to them. It means that much more to them because it's the soccer they've followed all their life. Any exposure for the young guys is huge and obviously the club. It's important for the club for them to get that exposure. It's a big time for this club, we just need to take advantage of it.
Is your championship run with UCSB in the College Cup helping you with this playoff run?
Yeah it is actually. I always brag about it in the locker room. I've won the national championship with Santa Barbara. It was a great experience and I want to be in that feeling again. Yeah we won the West but it's back to work on Monday. Right now the whole team is trying to keep our heads down and come the way we've come because we haven't won anything yet.
We were the underdogs at Santa Barbara, no one wanted us to win, a lot like here. No one thought we would be here and if we just continue like at Santa Barbara doing the same routine, same routine I think well be good.