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Luchi Gonzalez on how FC Dallas are getting creative tactically during training moratorium

FC Dallas players and coaches will jump on the Zoom conference call bandwagon early next week, head coach Luchi Gonzalez said Wednesday in a conference call with reporters.

It’s one creative, technology-focused leap they’re taking with MLS suspended through May 10 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with those calls broken down into a three-week cycle. They’ll adjust should league games get pushed further back, Gonzalez said, and the tactical conversations will supplement on-ball work, home bodyweight exercises and nutritional plans.

In a time of social distancing, they have to get creative.

“For example, the back line building out of the back, building in the middle third, destabilizing the middle third to beat the last line, and then their role when we're in an offensive third,” Gonzalez said, rattling off different scenarios they'd cover. 

The video calls will start in positional groups, meaning goalkeepers, defenders, midfielders and forwards will gather at specific times. There could be some doubling-up, Gonzalez said, for US men’s national team youngsters Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira given their tactically fluid roles.

As the video sessions progress, FC Dallas will incorporate partnerships that reflect tactical goals, meaning how an outside back such as Reggie Cannon and winger Michael Barrios interact. The synergy between new holding midfielder Thiago Santos and center backs Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler could arise, too.

All along, Gonzalez expects to mix in clips from MLS and abroad that reinforce their playing model.

“We want to challenge ourselves in reading and analyzing the model,” Gonzalez said. “It can be clips from [Manchester] City, it can be clips from Real Sociedad, who are playing really well right now, it could be clips from Atletico Madrid in how they defend and protect their goal. It can be different phases, different clips, different clubs where we like what they do depending on the phase. It could be individual players. It could be [Andre] ter Stegen and his distribution as a goalkeeper.”

Aside from the video sessions, Gonzalez is encouraging players to toss out their own creative ideas and areas they want to focus on. As for the coaching staff, they’ve come up with player quizzes, video game competitions and fun facts. 

It’s far from the normal routine of practices and games, but they’re adjusting as we all are.

“Even if they've never played certain video games before and they're not great at them, it's something to engage them, connect them and stimulate them and keep everyone together,” Gonzalez said. “Like I said, we're also going to ask players to share things with us about what are their favorite songs, their favorite movies, some things that are personal that they're not sharing in a normal setting. We have to get creative and think outside the box to find other ways to stimulate each other and connect."

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