As team captain, FC Dallas defender Reto Ziegler is one of the most respected and vocal leaders in the club's locker room.
On an FCD side that perennially fields one of the younger rosters in MLS, the 34-year-old Ziegler is one of the elder statesmen. While he and his teammates find themselves self-isolating amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Ziegler said he's doing what he can do transfer the responsibility that comes with his captaincy over to helping the club work its way through this period of isolation.
"I have an important message for all the guys whenever we talk," Ziegler said on a Tuesday conference call via Zoom. "It’s important to stay active mentally. As a human it’s not easy to be in quarantine. You have to stay positive and you have to have a goal. And our goal is to be the best team in the league.
"We want to be competitive and we want to be better in this situation, and for that the best thing we can do is to stay fit. It’s to do more than the other teams. That’s my message: If you have a lack of motivation because we don’t have a date where we can start, just think about yourself and do it for yourself but also for the team."
Individually, Ziegler said he's been working hard to practicing what he's been preaching to his teammates. He said he's been waking up at 6 am every morning to work out with his wife — an ex-alpine skier — in his garage and has been running at a park near his home.
He's running sprints, dribbling with cones and adding his own exercises to the regimen provided by the coaching staff based on what he's learned he needs throughout his career. He's also consuming all the soccer games that are re-airing on TV that he can, trying to think of them like a training session while he watches.
"I’m watching a lot of games on TV, all games from this season," he said. "I have many channels on TV, not only American channels, but from Europe and France and Italy and because they’re not in competition right now they’re showing a lot of games that were played. I’m watching these games, it’s always nice to see a game and look it as training – watching what a player in my position is doing."
Overall, Ziegler said he's doing his best to try and keep the situation in perspective. One silver lining to not having the season going for him personally is the increased time he's been able to spend with his family and his daughter Valentina, who just celebrated her first birthday.
"I’m enjoying my family more than ever," Ziegler said. "Because of training and traveling normally I’m not home as often, so I had the chance to see the first steps for my daughter, I had the chance to celebrate her first birthday. So those were some beautiful moments and the positive moments that I can take out of this situation. ... Our problems are really small problems when you look at what’s happening in the world and also in the US. I think about New York and you see very bad news, so we cannot even talk about problems with what we are going through. We just enjoy the time together."