And while some might make drastic shifts when traveling, Gonzalez, in his first year at the helm, made clear that his team’s foundational ideas will remain.
“We’re going to be smart and be ready to adapt,” Gonzalez said. “But it’s maintaining our foundation of how we want to play. I can’t speak from example at this point. I just know we have an identity and we want to maintain it, but with subtle adaptations and variations within our identity that are needed to fight for points.”
The result came against a Zlatan Ibrahimovic-less Galaxy side, but also constituted considerable, markable progress from opening weekend. That’s when Dallas dropped a one-goal lead to draw the New England Revolution, 1-1.
“I think the win is a product of the boys being very open to some improvements that we wanted to make during the week, so credit to them,” Gonzalez said. “It was an important game… The group has had a great mentality through the preseason of taking feedback, and not just taking it but using it and applying it and learning from it.”
Postgame, much talk centered around FC Dallas’ midfield trio of Acosta, US youth international Paxton Pomykal and Ecuadorian international Carlos Gruezo. Through relentless passing and pressing, they allowed Dallas to pull away in the second half.
Their collective energy also drew praise from Gonzalez, especially when it came to Acosta, a Honduran international and Designated Player signed this past offseason.
“He’s a technical and smart footballer,” Gonzalez said of Acosta. “With those two characteristics alone, he fits in the way that we’re training and the way we’re trying to play and our culture off the field. He’s also shown he’s a good human being, he’s a a family-oriented person who cares about the person and the teammates. He’s adapted because of those qualities and I think the scouting department did a great job to identify that over a year ago in the process of him getting here."
As Dallas heads to MAPFRE Stadium, Columbus will be entering on a high of its own. Last weekend, the Crew secured their first win of the Caleb Porter era – a 2-0 win over the Revs – courtesy of a Gyasi Zardes brace and Zack Steffen penalty kick save.
To corral Zardes, much responsibility will likely fall on the shoulders of center back Matt Hedges. The 2016 MLS Defender of the Year could challenge Jason Kreis for the club’s all-time appearance record (227) this season.
“To me, that’s a product of his consistency in terms of being a good human being off the field and being a good teammate on the field," Gonzalez said, "and having good relationships with players and staff and the people in the organization and showing respect to our fans.”
Gonzalez also said that they’re taking it day-by-day with right back Reggie Cannon, who was subbed off at halftime last weekend due to injury.