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FC Dallas Practice Live: 4/6

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FRISCO, TX - MARCH 26: Jair Benitez #5 of FC Dallas leaps for the ball against Bobby Burling #2 of the San Jose Earthquakes at Pizza Hut Park on March 26, 2011 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
FRISCO, TX - MARCH 26: Jair Benitez #5 of FC Dallas leaps for the ball against Bobby Burling #2 of the San Jose Earthquakes at Pizza Hut Park on March 26, 2011 in Frisco, Texas. (Photo by Layne Murdoch/Getty Images)
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Man it felt great to get out to practice today. Craziness on the job front has kept me cooped up in an office a bunch lately, but today I finally made it back to Frisco. A decent crowd of media out there today with Andy Friedlander of the DMN, Robert Casner, Denise Isla and more out there. 

Practice

Focus on attacking You could really tell that the team is focusing big on attacking today and creating more scoring chances. While the team has outshot their opponent in most games, the facts are that Dallas is a Milton Rodriguez backheel away from being scoreless through their first three. To work on that it was 5 offense vs 3 defense drills later in practice. 

You could tell that Dallas is really trying to get Marvin Chavez more involved in the attack as well as almost every pass was sprayed out wide to Chavez on the wings. It's tough with the team down to ten men, but Chavez and Castillo have got to be more involved in the attack if FCD wants to score goals. 

Jacobson getting time with the first team I've been touting him all pre-season and perhaps I'll get a chance to look like a genius or a fool this weekend as Jacobson might get his turn in the rotation on Friday night. We saw it last year when Alexander, Guarda and Avila were each given a chance to lock down the spot and perhaps we will see AJ get his spot with the starters this week. 

I really like Jacobson as an option as I've been told he has the hardest shot on the team and I love the size he provides in the midfield. His problems have always been with his relatively poor technique and first touch, but the athleticism and work rate are there for him to be successful in that center mid role. 

Keep Reading for Schellas opening up a bit about the team and a chat with George John

Lots of talking During the game they play with goals on the sides and in the middle, you could hear a lot of people talking whether it was defensively or making runs on offense. One of the biggest criticisms I've read is a lack of communication on the team right now so perhaps they're putting an emphasis on talking. Bobby Warshaw, Kevin Hartman, and Marvin Chavez are the ones you hear the most out there. 

Two faces returning Kyle Davies didn't train but he warmed up with the team today. That generally means around a month until he's back to full training. A few of us were chatting about Davies and how much different things could be if Davies career wasn't so injury riddled. Andy of the DMN mentioned that Schellas said in 09 his center back pairing of the future was Davies and John. He turns just 22 next week though so there's still time for the kid.

The other new face on the training ground was Richard Sanchez. The young Mexican keeper spends most of his time with the Mexico U17's right now so it's a rare sight to see him, but man this kid is such a talent. Schellas was right on the button saying this is the best keeper he's ever seen at his age group. 

Long practice This was the longest practice of the season that I've seen, ending after 12P. Schellas talks later about how he thinks this was the best week of practice so far this year, and I've got to agree that the team looks more focused. It's tough because you still see players who just don't look completely comfortable in their roles yet, but as we all think, things are improving. The team just needs to put it all together on the field that counts and that's the one inside the stadium, not the Adidas field.

Quotes

Is there any emotions playing Colorado for the first time since MLS Cup?

I dont konw, I can't speak for the players but for me it's an opportunity to get a win and we're focusing on getting our first win not really thinking about last year. I think this is more important for us right now.

We hear Conor Casey might not play, what do you know about that?

I don't know, I think he may have strained a hamstring...Until we get the roster we'll plan on him behind there. Obviously they picked up another player, Caleb Folan from Hull who scored a couple of goals the other day and he's a very good player. I look at them as a very improved team from last year.

Last year in trying to find the center midfielder you rotated a few guys to find the right fit, is that something you're doing again this year?

I think we're doing that already, it's a tough position because it's a connector and it's a box to box so the player has to have pretty good mental strength to work on both sides of the ball and then the key thing is to connect the passes and I think right now we've been a little bit inconsistent there.

I think you've probably observed that David is having a difficult time. Is that because there's no connectors there to help him or is he just getting man marked so tight wherever he is. Where before they used to track him with a player, I think now its a gang mentality, wherever he goes they make sure someones got him covered. So we need somebody to step up a little bit to help David

What can you do to help counteract that gang mentality?

I think what's happening is the defense is pretty much staying intact when we go against a defense so it's more of a mentality in their midfield, you look at our game against Columbus, I think #22, he might have made four tackles on David by himself and they took him out at halftime because he finally got a yellow card. I think that's kind of the mentality. Now we're going against one of the best dual midfields, they're two hard players, very disiplined players so I think it's going to be a nice matchup. 

Is it tough to evaluate the offense when you're down a man so much? 

It really is, we still evalute players after every game, something we've done since I arrived and sometimes you have a be a little bit more empathy when you grade a player because you have to understand that they've basically gone 60 minutes a man down. So for that 60 minutes until they scored that goal late in extended time we still had opportunities to score. So I was really pleased that our guys were still trying to get in there and still trying to get a goal. 

Then when you evaluate a player, you're out of position a few times and maybe didn't have the legs to get back one time but you have to take into consideration that they're working for somebody who's not out there.

But you know we talked a little bit within the team and I think this is important for you to hear, when we got back we talked about things that are concerns and one of the things that is concerning is the team is a little bit dysfunctional. The team is not connected defensively or offensively and we haven't really changed that many players but the thing that I didn't expect is that some of the returning players have kind of lost what we've been doing so that's what were doing now is re-educating them,

The other word I talked about is a little bit of team play. You have a really strong team chemistry I think the team likes each other but you're starting to see a little bit of the younger players hanging with the younger players only, some of the hispanic players hang only with hispanic players and that's a normal thing because of culture, language and all that but we really were able to be very successful last year because we were all kind of going in the same direction.

One of the things I talked about was maybe the selection of the first XI wasn't a great selection because I expected more out of some of the players who didn't perform and obviously who goes into a game thinking they're going to be down a man 30 minutes in.

And the final thing is in the three games, two of them we've been down a man and when you add those minutes together its a full game down a man so we've got to get better at that. We talk about emotional intelligence over and over again. 

What was your opinion on how the two young players, Ruben and Castillo, did against Columbus?

I think Ruben had a pretty good second half, I didn't think he had a very good first half and that's kind of surprising considering we were down a man for nearly sixty minutes. I think Castillo had some very good moments. You can see he has outstanding athleticism and speed and he's able to do some very good things but because you're young sometimes you're a little bit inconsistent and that's what he is right now.

You signed Maykel Galindo, how has he looked and could he get some time this weekend?

I don't know about that, but the first part of the question I think he's improving every day. He's doing some really nice things and I had a word with him on that...Glad to get him back, glad to sign him and also glad that he was active while he was gone. 

How did you feel about the red card?

One, I think I don't go around complaining and I don't go around blaming, it's just not something I do. If the players are complaining about officiating or they're blaming the officials, say they go down that road. As I say to the players, David Ferreira was the MVP last year, he was also the most fouled player in the league.

Why is it going to be any different this year? You know why would he not be one of the most fouled players? So we have to get over the fact that it's going to be a physical contest. We can only control what we can control, but we cannot keep hurting ourselves playing down a man

Playing Colorado this weekend, I know you've got roles for every player out there, is it really just a matter of getting back to the basics? 

Well you can say that but you get in front of the goal against San Jose how many times and you don't put the ball in the net? I think we're doing the basics, we're just not finishing. We've had two center backs out all pre-season and that hasn't been a very enjoyable thing trying to get people to learn their roles.

I think the roles is more what I talk about disjointed is when we defend, we defend as a team not as an individual....I still think that both the center backs are still about 80%. 

Last year you had Brek and Atiba going into the box in attack, how do you get more size in the box because last week it seemed it was Ruben and four defenders?

This was one of the things we were working on today. We realize we were disjointed defensively and a little disjointed in the attack so what we need to do is develop patterns in what we do in attack. Today we worked on the counterattack, when we win the ball, here's the runs we want, we want to come down the middle and make penetrating passes.

Once we get that penetrating pass say to Chavez, he's got to get into the box and then people have got to make their runs and have our midfielders in there. So as I said, being down a man is hard to judge but we want four or five people in our strike force always going to goal and we haven't been getting that so it's a re-education right now but I think this week of training has been our best week. 

George John

This is the rematch of MLS Cup, is it hard for you to treat this as just another game or is there more motivation?

You know definitely last year was a good run for us but that was last year...we're looking at this year as a fresh take, we've got a different group of players and we're really just focused in on winning this game, yeah there might be a little bit of extra motivation but we've got to get our first win and that's where the motivation is coming from. 

There's some question whether Casey plays, how much does he add to what they do offensively?

He's a constant threat, one of the top forwards if not the top forward in the league and a constant threat to score goals so without him, I know they'll still be a good team but he adds a lot to them as well. 

You may have Ugo, you may have Brek in the middle can you talk about the communication issues a little bit. 

That's still evident, I know that but whoever it is, whether it's me and Brek or me and Ugo or whoever I think it's our responsibility. The onus is on us to communicate and do well whoever it is, it's our job and there's no excuses as that. 

What do you think about Schellas' comments today?