It was (supposed to be) a story day Thursday, while I did not get to catch training, I got to briefly catch up with one of FC Dallas’ Homegrown players, goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez. The 21-year-old has been in fine form between the sticks after taking over for Chris Seitz following a string of poor performances. In seven games, he has recorded four shutouts, and 18 saves. Having conceded only four goals during this time, the only multi-goal game being against Portland, it will take a bad run for him to lose the number one spot.
The last time FC Dallas faced San Jose was back in April, and Dallas conceded a goal in the dying moments of the game which cost Dallas two points. Since then, Oscar Pareja has been working on the mental strength of the players and defensive stamina to prevent these late game goals, when asked if the team is doing anything differently since San Jose had already scored late when the team morale was low.
“Nothing we’re working the game as last time,” said Gonzalez. “It’s something that is part of the game, and the back four has really been working on that. It is something that is really important in the game is to not concede goals late in the game. Many goals in the league come in the last seconds of the game.”
Back in April when Gonzalez faced the San Jose attack, Dallas conceded in the 94th minute, when asked who he and the back four will be looking out for on Saturday, his answer was a surprise to few.
“I think Wondolowski, he is a very good, consistent striker,” said Gonzalez. “I think our back four will take care of him well and we will win the game.”
During his time as a professional, the young homegrown has had to share minutes with two goalkeepers, Chris Seitz, and Dan Kennedy. Although the latter has left and is retired, there has been a consistent battle for the starting spot over the last three years. With the age difference between the two players, either side may feel like they deserve the starting spot, however, this is not the case with these two goalkeepers. Seitz and Gonzalez have a good relationship on and off the field, which seems to have a good impact with the team chemistry.
“It’s good, I learn from him, he learns from me, you know, its healthy competition,” explained Gonzalez. “It’s apart of the sport, and it’s a beautiful thing about soccer that there is this competition. It’s something that I really like about Seitz, he really helps me out a lot, and I help him as much as I can, and we get along very well.”
There are probably few teams in this league that midway through a season they can swap goalkeepers, and be completely fine and continue on an unbeaten run. There usually has to be an adjustment period with the back four, but with the longevity of both keepers at the club, and the relationships that they both have with the defenders, the transition between keepers is seamless, and it pushes both Gonzalez and Seitz further. Pareja and Dallas are lucky to have two keepers who can get the job done.