FRISCO, Texas — Earlier this season, Zdenek Ondrasek struggled.
Through FC Dallas’ first 10 games, Ondrasek, 30, had played 48 minutes over three appearances, leading FCD fans to wonder if the veteran striker was a swing-and-miss by the front office.
However, as the Texas summer wore on, “Cobra” found his form, especially over Dallas’ last 10 games, making six of his seven starts, scoring all seven goals and contributing both assists while logging 13 of his 15 shots on goal.
Ondrasek also struck when his team needed him, in an Oct. 6 match with Sporting KC, when he delivered his second two-goal performance of the season in a 6-0 rout as FCD clinched a playoff spot.
His late-season surge also earned a first career call-up from the Czech Republic national team.
“It’s an honor. It’s a dream to put the jersey of your country on and fight for your country,” he told MLSsoccer.com after training Thursday. “It was awesome. As I said after the game against England, one game doesn’t make a career. I enjoyed it. My family saw it, everyone saw it, but now I’m back. I want to help and do my best on Saturday.”
And no one is happier for Ondrasek than first-year FCD coach Luchi Gonzalez, who calls the veteran striker a paragon of patience, perseverance and professionalism.
“He’s taken advantage of some recent opportunities,” Gonzalez said. “It’s not easy to make your international debut at 30, that’s very rare. It’s just a testament to his character, his attitude. He's a great example. We know he’s just going to keep working. Whatever decisions are made, he’s going to show respect, be a good teammate, keep working and with that he’s going to reach his potential.”
After training Thursday prior to departing for Seattle, where FCD will face Sounders FC on Saturday in the 2019 Audi MLS Cup Playoffs-Round One at Century Link Field (3:30 pm ET | FS1, FOX Deportes; TSN and TVAS in Canada), Ondrasek said he was tired due to the long travel from earlier this week.
However, he plans on being well-rested for his first taste of the MLS postseason.
“Everyone is so excited, ready to fight. We all know it won’t be easy, but there is no easy game,” Ondrasek said. “The team looks good and hungry. The team is young. We know we have to work hard, and the guys will get better and better. At the end of the season, everyone showed it.”