FC Dallas kicked off the 2013 preseason in Frisco on Monday with their first official training session of the year. The mood was jovial despite the team’s disappointing performance in 2012 and an offseason that included the departure of several key players. There was also this. So, it’s probably no surprise the team was happy to have 2012 behind them. January is a hopeful month.
If this team has one reason to be optimistic, it’s because David Ferreira is healthy and looking good. Having missed most of the last two seasons to injury, the 2010 MLS MVP can’t be expected to be in top form on day one, but compared to everyone else around him, he looked very sharp. The jedi is back. Having Ferreira on your team is good reason for anyone to be optimistic. Like in the NFL, even a bad team with a great QB can win a lot of games. See Redskins, Washington. 2012. There are several compelling reasons to suggest that FC Dallas is a better team than their record showed last year, but even if they aren’t, just having Ferreira on the field could keep them competitive in every game.
The best battle on day one was waged between Zach Loyd and Jackson Goncalves. Jackson was attacking Loyd’s left, trying to get around him along the end line, but Loyd stepped in front of the ball. Jackson pressed, pinning Loyd along the line. The ball sat motionless at their feet, half in, half out, as the men grappled over it like two Greco-Roman wrestlers. Loyd got low and underneath Jackson, who tumbled over his back and landed on the other side. Loyd started to clear the ball, but Coach Hyndman, acting as referee, whistled Loyd for the foul.
Zach Loyd had what may have been the best goal of the day. Loyd blasted one from his own end on a short-sided field that blew past a diving Chris Seitz into the upper right corner, drawing applause from coaches and players.
The worst shot of the day award has to go to Jair Benitez, whose towering left footer from about 15 yards out never seemed to get closer to the goal than the moment it left his foot. His driven crosses confuse defenders and perplex keepers, but he’s no striker.
The worst performance of the day was probably Chris Seitz. Man, I love this guy, and I’m sure everyone is going to be pulling for him, but he was getting smoked like a brisket. He looked especially slow when he tried to get low, letting several seemingly stoppable grounders sneak under him as he dove. It would be understandable, of course, for a guy who went through what he did last summer to be off his game for a while, but if he’s going to seriously compete for the starting job with newly signed Peruvian national team goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, he’s going to need to get quicker in a hurry.
Part of the reason for the smiles and general light mood is probably nervous energy. For the players, the first day of preseason training is probably not unlike the first day of school, with players trying a little too hard to get noticed. Perhaps that explains Bradlee Baladez’s wild-ass attempt at a bicycle kick to end practice. The shot didn’t go in, but the effort was spectacular, if a bit overplayed. Baladez picked himself up, giggling a bit with nervous laughter. Coach Hyndman had apparently seen enough and whistled an end to the day’s training.
FC Dallas fans, if you have any questions you would like me to ask any of the players or coaches, leave them in the comments below.