FC Dallas held their first two-a-day training sessions of the year Tuesday in Frisco. As the team prepares for the 2013 season, one of the biggest challenges they face is trying to adapt to life without Daniel Hernandez. He commanded respect on the field and in the locker room, and in training sessions he was a vocal leader who constantly encouraged his teammates and kept the team focused and morale high. Former MLS MVP David Ferreira may be a great leader in his own right, and the rest of the team would surely follow him anywhere, but he seems to be more the quiet type who leads by example.
One man who might be trying to step up and fill that void is third year defender Bobby Warshaw. FC Dallas spent a first-round draft pick on Warshaw in 2011 with the intention of having him learn from and eventually take over for Hernandez at holding midfielder. In these first few training sessions of 2013 he’s clearly one of the most vocal players on the field. While Warshaw will probably never have the intimidating presence that Hernandez would bring -- not many would -- he says he hopes that he can lead in his own way. “You can’t replace Hernandez as a player,” Warshaw said after practice Tuesday. “I would be crazy to try. But communicating with guys and expressing myself is who I am. It’s not me trying to be Daniel, It’s just kinda how I play it and how I do it and I think its one of the positives that I bring.”
The players are still looking a bit uncoordinated, as should probably be expected. In the early session, Jackson Goncalves wound up to connect with a slow rolling cross about ten yards in front of goal, but he missed badly and whiffed a big swinging kick like Charlie Brown, and that was while playing against air.
Even David Ferreira looked uncommonly rusty. After one errant cross, he shook his head and loudly cursed himself in Spanish -- apparently something about a “Macarena.” A few moments later, he took a cross in front of goal and launched a scud missile well over the bar. Obviously frustrated with himself, he held his arms up to heaven in despair, beseeching, then covered his face in his palms as he walked back to the end of the line.
Kellyn Acosta and Matt Hedges faced each other a few times in a spirited one-on-one drill. Hedges powered a goal past Acosta in the first face-off, but Acosta fought back bravely. Hedges may have had the numbers advantage -- he’s five years older, 40 lbs heavier, and half a foot taller -- but Acosta refused to be intimidated and scored to even things up at one apiece. In the decider, Hedges, with the ball, charged at Acosta. Acosta gave him a little space, but then stepped in and stood the tall man up and blocked his off-balance shot attempt, drawing praise and applause from Coach Hyndman.
In the drill’s final matchup, Victor Ulloa faced Zach Loyd. Ulloa got Loyd leaning left with a quick, hard cut to towards the sideline, then cut back, forcing Loyd to overcorrect to the right. Ulloa cut back again, and Loyd had to lunge back to the left again to match. It looked like a cutting horse competition. Ulloa made one last cutback to the left to find just enough space on Loyd’s right to get off a clean left-footer that sailed about two feet to the left of the goal. Coach Hyndman commended the effort on both sides with a “Good job!”
If anybody has any questions they would like me to ask any of the coaches or players, leave them in the comments below.