FCD is in the middle of two weeks of two-a-days as they work on fitness ahead of a trip out to Cancun for the first week of February. Right now is the super preliminary stages of the pre-season as there's no tackles flying in and no one really fighting for a job just yet. The trialists and rookie are trying to impress, but even they are not judged too much by what happens in the first week. It's all about fitness and getting back on the ball.
The practice started with two 3v3 games on each half of the pitch. One side, watched by John Ellinger and Marco Ferruzzi, was mainly roster players while the other side, watched by Schellas, was mostly trialists and rookies with the starting goalkeepers. The Schellas game, which was the one I was paying the most attention to, finished 4-2 for Kevin Hartman's team with Scott Sealy grabbing a brace. More on him in a little bit...
After the 3v3 games the entire squad got together for a full sided game played on half the field. The point of the exercise was that you had to pass the ball five times in the midfield before you could go forward. A drill based on promoting possession in the midfield rather than bombing the ball forward. I can't remember the final score but the goal of the game was scored by Martin John and Bruno Guarda playing some nice combination stuff before freeing Fabian Castillo down the left side. The Colombian turned on the jets to reach the ball and slot it under the on-rushing Richard Sanchez in goal. A really beautiful play, easily the moment of the day at practice.
Some notes, thoughts on a few players and chats with David Ferreira and Bryan Leyva
This is first practice of the year kneejerk thoughts so take everything with a grain of salt this early in pre-season.
Scott Sealy could make this team The most impressive player in the 3v3 Schellas game was Scott Sealy. The Trinidad man had the goal of the scrimmage holding off Scott Gordon before a nifty turn and blast that beat Chris Seitz. In the full sided scrimmage, Sealy did a wonderful job controlling some tough passes and laying them off to teammates while he worked his socks off on the defensive side of things. If Dallas doesn't get the target they've been rumored to be going after as a backup forward, Sealy is a guy that could be on the opening day roster.
Wiedeman again I said it last year and I'll say it again this year, Andrew Wiedeman has the possibility to make a big impact on this thing in 2012. He was the most active player of the Ellinger scrimmage and scored a beautiful goal. He, along with Bobby Warshaw and Victor Ulloa, were the guys that you could tell really wanted to win that scrimmage which is the competitiveness you want to see. Dallas is thin at right mid and Wiede is going to have a go at things in pre-season.
Other trialists Ibeagha was fairly quite at right back in the scrimmage while I was impressed with what Martin John had to offer at left back. He's got decent size, good touch and you can tell he understands the game. It's tough to judge a whole lot from one practice, but I'm looking forward to seeing more of him. Scott Gordon had a pretty rough day, Sealy gave him his lunch in the 3v3 game and he got caught in possession a few times in the full sided scrimmage. Still very early for everyone though...
Hartman One other thing I want to mention and that is if there is a more professional player than Kevin Hartman, I haven't seen it. Whether it's a 3v3 scrimmage or MLS Cup, that guy doesn't rest for one second while he's on the training pitch and when he hangs up the boots I hope he can find his way to an MLS coaching staff if he chooses.
Not in training Ugo Ihemelu, Daniel Hernandez, Daniel Cruz, David Ferreira, and Andrew Jacobson were not a part of full practice today, they all trained on the side. It's tough to know exactly who is precautionary and who is a risk of not making opening day but Hernandez and Jacobson had surgery in the offseason so them not joining for the first week or two isn't a huge surprise. If I'm a guy like Daniel Cruz, however, I want to get out on that training field as soon as possible. I won't be hugely concerned, however, until we see who is training fully once the team returns from Mexico.
Jacobson's Hair is dyed neon blonde. Must've lost a bet or something. His wife must hate it, I could never get away with that.
Schellas had to jet for a meeting so we weren't able to get with him.
Ferreira noted that he had a second operation on his ankle here in Dallas in October or November, which Schellas Hyndman eluded to on Soccer Today last Saturday.
What's been the toughest part of the whole injury situation?
It was all pretty hard, it was hard to be away from my teammates. The recouperating part was hard too, but the hardest part was not being with these guys and not being here when they needed me.
Do you feel like you'll be able to be the same player from 2010 when you were MVP?
I hope so, I'm really working hard to get back out on the field. I think that I can do that but my plan right now is to just get back on the field as soon as I can.
Thoughts on playing with Brek Shea of 2012 rather than the Brek Shea of 2010
I think it's going to be a lot different. I think he's a lot more mature this year and it's going to be good, he obviously had a really good year last year and I think we can build on that and keep going.
Thoughts on Fabian Castillo
I'm excited, I'm ready to have a good season with him. I think it's going to be a good year, I'm ready for him to show everything he's capable of doing.
What do you know about Blas Perez and how do you feel about playing with him?
I know him, but not really personally but what I've seen in Colombia is he's a great forward who is going to take advantage of the opportunities he has. Wherever he's been, he's had a good impact and I look for him to have a great impact here.
And maybe he can open up some more space for you not having two or three defenders always on you?
I think so, I think its going to be good and that's what we hope for. Hopefully we can get a good understanding of each other so we can play well this season.
You spent 10 days training at Santos Laguna in Mexico, how did that go for you?
It went really well actually. I went with the U20s and we got to train with the first team for the day before the final[Santos played Tigres in the 2011 Mexican Apertura final] and I got to go to the first game. It was a very nice experience for me and it went really well.
As a player what do you learn from those kinds of trips?
As a player I learned it's a very very different style. More technical more than anything else so it was very good for me and I adapted very well. It gave me a lot of confidence[coming back to FC Dallas] and it's good that I was training before preseason because it's helping me now to last in these practices because they're very tough.
You did some great things in reserve games last year against MLS defenders do you think you can push for a first team spot this year?
It went well in the reserve league, obviously you want to be in the first team but in reserves you've got to be productive and be well. I'm very happy for that. I'm still adapting to the left and the defending side which is very important, not letting the other guy go behind me but I'm adapting and now it's going well.
Is that something Schellas has pushed you on, with the Academy it was always get the ball and go forward but as you get to the professional level is that something Schellas pushes?
Yeah, that's definitely right. In the Academy like you said my responsibility was to attack but when I came here Schellas has helped me a lot with the mentality of defending and working off the ball and I think I'm getting better at that as the games go on. It actually helps me a lot because I go from here, over there[to Santos] and I have the concepts in my head from here and over there they don't pay attention as much to those things so I think that helped me out a lot and they really liked that.