In the aftermath of FC Dallas crashing out of the 2018 CONCACAF Champions League, their focus has shifted from CCL, to the start of the MLS Season. Players were available to the media today, and Big D Soccer had the opportunity to speak with a couple of players, and head coach Oscar Pareja.
BDS: This is a new look back line, with Reggie Cannon taking over the right back spot, Nedyalkov and Ziegler coming in, this is a new look defense, how will you be leading and organizing this defense?
Hedges: “That’s the tough part, bringing in three new players into the back line, and every day I feel like our chemistry is getting better, and we’re understanding each other a little bit better every day.”
BDS: As the leader of the team, what will you be doing to help recover from 2017?
Hedges: “Mainly motivating the guys. I need to be reminding them that this is a brand new season. 2017 was a bad season for us, but we have the whole season to rectify that. That is what i have been telling the guys.”
BDS: What are some personal goals for you this season?
Hedges: “To be more consistent, the second half of last year, I was inconsistent; played well some games, played poorly in others. I am trying to get back to years past when I was consistently playing well.
BDS: With early elimination in the SCCL, how will the team respond in MLS play?
Hedges: To keep working. This was a failure on our part to not advance, but we need to keep putting in the work and to try and start the season off in the right way in MLS.
BDS: How have you been adjusting to life in the United States?
Ziegler: “I feel well here. Of course it was a bit strange and all new in the beginning, but I feel good. I have a house, and my wife will be moving here next week. I feel comfortable here, and most importantly on the field. I am fitting well in the team, and I am happy.”
BDS: How has the chemistry been with your new teammates?
Ziegler: ”I feel like we are still improving. It is difficult for me to say it is perfect, because yesterday we conceded two goals, it’s not perfect. We have to work hard; when you analyze the games, we don’t concede a lot of shots against us, or dangerous action, it is mostly stupid errors we do. Maybe it has to do with concentration; but we are disappointed from these two games against Tauro, but we have to learn a lesson from that and avoid these mistakes. We have to concentrate, we have to show it in the league.
BDS: This is a very young team, how are you helping out your younger teammates?
Ziegler: “Speaking to them, Reggie has come to me a few times to ask about situations on the field. I think because I also play left back, I have experience in almost every position in defense, and just speaking to the guys. Along with showing my attitude in training, I want to show them that I am a leader.”
BDS: What’s your favorite thing about Texas?
Ziegler: “I am a sports fan, and to have so many different clubs in town, the Mavs, Stars, and Cowboys there are so many opportunities to watch sports in person. I did not have that opportunity in Switzerland and now I have this opportunity. If I had to pick one thing, we are in a sport town and I hope to catch games frequently.”
BDS: How do you feel about your first MLS game?
Ziegler: “It was important for me to play against MLS teams in Arizona at the tournament, because I didn’t really know the players or the level of play. It is very intense, and I know I have to be ready physically, and I am feeling good coming from preseason. I feel like my legs are healthy and I am ready to run 90 minutes. It is a new opener for me; I don’t know each player, but what matters is that we already had a good test because we played CONCACAF and we have the level and are already competitive. This is a plus because we have already fought two times and the opponent has not had any official competition yet.”
BDS: You have been wanting to employ a three man defense for a while now, and with bringing in new faces, what are you wanting to achieve with this new formation?
Pareja: “This is something we tried to implement last year; we tried it early, and we wanted to bring flexibility to the team. This year we have done it some in preseason, we are able to use more players, second not be too dependable to some others, and lastly to bring something fresh. It is something that takes time, but we are all committed. We have our models that are regular, but we wanted to bring some flexibility.”
BDS: Bringing in new faces like Ziegler, Nedyalkov, Mosquera, Cannon (1 min of MLS play) how is the chemistry in the locker room, and how will it translate onto the field?
Pareja: “It is looking good. Obviously we have the frustration of not qualifying for the next phase in CCL, but the players are gluing together, they are understanding each other, and it takes some time getting out of that preseason mode. We are aiming to get into competition mode, but talking about the new guys, they need some time to gel. We can’t use it as an excuse, but it is something that is real.
BDS: Last year you had an extensive preseason in Argentina, and this year has been vastly different, do you think the preseason structure might have contributed to not playing as cohesively?
Pareja: “It could be. We changed the plan this year, last year was a lot of traveling. I was trying not to overload the boys with extensive traveling. Last year, especially at the end of the season, you could see it was taking a toll by too much miles and traveling, we were trying to condense it this year. But obviously the objective wasn’t achieved. But we need to consider that as a potential reason. I am not looking for excuses, I need to get the job done, and the players know it. So far the boys are putting their all, the club is supporting us in implementing the plan.”
BDS: There are some demons from 2017, along with losing Kellyn Acosta to injury, how are you feeling about the midfield? Will we see rotation?
Pareja: “Kellyn has had an injury held over from last season. When he was doing his plan, everything was going normal, and he suffered as a consequence of what happened last year. We need players like Kellyn in the team. But there is always an opportunity for others, the youngsters will be able to ask for minutes in the team. Jacori, Victor, Paxton, and Servania they should be able to do the job.
BDS: How are you preparing for the match against Salt Lake?
Pareja: First things first is to brush the pain off the loss in CCL, we are trying to do this today mentally. We do not have too much time, just turn the page right away. The players are aware of their responsibilities in the opener. We also have training tomorrow to get ready for the game. Hopefully we will have a victory on Saturday.
You can catch FC Dallas take on Real Salt Lake Saturday, March 3rd at 7:00pm. If you can’t make it to the game, you can watch it on TXA21.