FRISCO, Texas – “The Cobra” is still waiting to strike in MLS.
In December, FC Dallas announced they had used Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) to sign Czech striker Zdenek Ondrasek from Wisla Krakow of the Polish first division, and expectations in FCD circles were high.
Supporters made “The Cobra” feel welcome from day one, greeting him at the airport upon arrival to make him feel part of the FCD family.
However, Ondrasek has yet to make the 18-man gameday roster in FCD’s first three matches, even after scoring two goals in seven preseason appearances (four starts).
“Yeah, the preseason wasn’t as good as I expected, but I’m feeling good, better every day and waiting for my chance,” Ondrasek told MLSsoccer.com after training Tuesday.
Ondrasek has also appeared in one scrimmage with North Texas SC, FCD’s new USL League One affiliate.
This dearth of first-team minutes perplexes FCD supporters, but first-year coach Luchi Gonzalez assessed Ondrasek’s current situation in basic terms after Tuesday’s training.
“Cobra has had a fantastic attitude and shown a high level of respect for the team and his teammates. When you do those things, me, my staff, this club will get your back,” Gonzalez said. “That doesn’t mean I guarantee minutes, but we’re going to guarantee support, development and be there for you. He’s going through his process. It’s not easy, but this is the current situation. We’re just taking it one training at a time.”
Ondrasek calls his fitness “very good” and said he’s enjoyed his new teammates and living in Dallas.
He’s also built a strong rapport with Gonzalez, who was introduced as Dallas’ new coach only days before “The Cobra” was signed, and credits Gonzalez’s great communication for letting him know what his coach expects daily.
“Sometimes it’s like that. Coach didn’t feel that I’m 100 percent ready for the first game against New England,” Ondrasek said. “I accepted [what he said] and we go forward. I have to work hard, show him that I’m ready. I believe that he will see it and when he wants, he will give me the chance.”
But one area where Gonzalez has no concerns about Ondrasek is his fitness.
“I have no complaints from a physical standpoint. He’s a strong young man,” Gonzalez said. “It’s just little timing things, some subtle things that are not easy to adapt to for any player and the way that we’re trying to play and compete. It’s a challenge for a lot of our guys.”
But Gonzalez has been coaching long enough to know that how long it takes a player to acclimate to a new team, league and in this case, country, varies, and doesn’t sound concerned about Ondrasek’s timetable.
“Everyone’s different. This is not an easy league,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not easy for anybody to leave their comfort zone, their family, their friends and then be optimal. We all have different experiences. Some people take longer than others. Some break through and some don’t. You just never know.”