FC Dallas might have marked the opening of training camp on Jan. 17, but three weeks later and 1,000 miles away from their home in Frisco, the team is finally united and coming together as a team.
“The main thing we've been able to do is get our full team together,” head coach Schellas Hyndman told MLSsoccer.com by phone from Cancún, Mexico. “With that, we've been able to play a little more aggressively in our training sessions and the players are quickly measuring one another.”
Each of the team’s offseason acquisitions is now training in full with the club. Striker Blas Pérez was the first to join the team and has now been training with the club a full week. According to Hyndman, his increasing familiarity with team and players is accelerating his transition process.
“The more he has been around the players, he is feeling more comfortable and has been able to put a little more of his personality into the training sessions,” Hyndman said.
The other recent additions to the team are also seeing their first action with the club in Mexico. Panamanian defender Carlos Rodríguez (above) was impressive in playing 60 minutes in the team’s first scrimmage against Inter Playa del Carmen last Thursday.
“He is a good left-sided player,” Hyndman said. “He has good speed, a good engine. He gets up and down the field. The thing that kind of surpassed my expectations was that he was very composed on the ball.”
The last to join the team was Hernán Pertúz, a Colombian defender who is expected to compete for minutes at center back. Pertúz (at right) traveled 21 total hours to meet the team in Mexico last week and was shelved for two days to get some rest.
Still, the staff has seen enough from the Colombian youth national-teamer in his short time with the club to expect significant contributions from the 22-year-old moving forward.
“He is a really good player,” Hyndman said. “The players and I are happy to have him. He's only going to get better as he becomes more and more comfortable. We've expecting very positive things from him moving forward.”
Scrimmage to feature top talent
FCD are gearing up for their final scrimmage of their Mexico trip on Tuesday afternoon against the New York Red Bulls (postponed from Monday due to rain) and, while a number of reserve players and trialists will get a chance to perform, much of the top talent will also be featured in the game.
“A coach from New York and I spoke in regard to how we wanted to form the game and we both agreed we should put our best players on the field for the first half and then come back with the reserve players in the second half,” Hyndman said. “That's a good direction to go, that way all our players get about 45 minutes to show what they have on the field.”
After losing in the Wild Card round to New York in last year's MLS Cup Playoffs, FC Dallas players are anxious to match up with the Red Bulls once more. The scrimmage will be a good measuring stick for the club early in the offseason, but the critical matchup will come during First Kick weekend on March 11.
“We have that bad feeling of losing to them in playoffs fresh in our minds, so opening day will be a very important game for us to win,” striker Ruben Luna told MLSsoccer.com. “[Tuesday]'s scrimmage may not have that same feel, but it's our first competition against an MLS opponent this season and it will give us a good idea of where we are at as a team.”