FC Dallas took to the practice field in Frisco Thursday for their 6th and 7th training sessions of the year. So far, no one has been lost to serious injury, and the weather has cooperated with a string of mostly pleasant, spring-like days, so the mood continues to be upbeat as the team nears the end of the first week of preseason.
Probably the hottest competition so far this preseason has been the battle between Victor Ulloa and Bobby Warshaw for holding midfielder. It's a tight race, but Warshaw's versatility might be a factor, at least here in the very early stages of preseason, working against him. Though he feels more comfortable at holding midfielder, Warshaw has had to fill in quite a bit at center back, since George John and Ugo Ihemelu and 2013 first round draft pick Walker Zimmerman are all sitting out with injuries (George is expected back very soon, Zimmerman as well. Ihemelu, not so much. Hyndman says he’s still with the team, training inside at the team facility, but he is not expected on the field any time soon). So, Ulloa might get a few more looks at holding midfielder early on. But, Warshaw is clearly a team player -- he can often be seen going around to shake hands with each of his teammates after good plays -- so it's no wonder he's taking a philosophical approach. “I don’t think that’s the ideal spot for me,” he said. “But that’s not my job to worry about.”
Still, even if Warshaw is less than thrilled with where he’s sometimes being slotted, he hasn’t shown it, especially not in his work on the field. He had his best session of the week Thursday morning, with standout plays on both sides of the ball. His 40-yard pass upfield to Jonathan Top (I think??? the players aren't wearing numbers yet) elicited a “Good ball, Bobby,” from Coach Hyndman. Later, he bailed out a scrambling Chris Seitz by throwing himself in front of a powerful volley that was destined for the back of the net. A chorus of shouts of “Bobby! Bobby!” rang out from the rest of the team in response. However, before the clamor had died down, Victor Ulloa calmly took the rebound and hammered the ball home, between Warshaw and Seitz. If heralded Frenchman Peter Luccin doesn’t impress as much as hoped (and he certainly would not be the first import to fizzle with FC Dallas), it looks like both Ulloa and Warshaw are primed to step up.
Speaking of position battles, Chris Seitz seems to be picking up his game as the week rolls on. Maybe it’s the arrival of Ricardo Suarez, or maybe he’s just working out the bad moves like everybody else this early in preseason, but Seitz had a strong showing Thursday. He still let in too many rollers, but he showed several flashes of the type of athleticism that he will need to replace MLS legend Kevin Hartman. Seitz had a brilliant stab at a Jonathan Top screamer that saved a sure goal, and later stuffed Andrew Jacobson twice in quick succession. Jacobson corralled his own rebound off Seitz well inside the penalty spot and, with Seitz laying prone before him, Jacobson tried to shoot over him. But Seitz, scrambling up from flat on his back, stabbed instantly at the ball, deflecting it just barely over the crossbar. As Seitz stood up, the two men shared a handshake of mutual admiration.
Also, Brek Shea made his first on-field appearance with his teammates in 2013, participating in a few drills. He and some of the other attackers, including recently signed Brazilian forward Wesley "Pipico" Silva, spent some time taking shots on goal. Pipico caught side netting with a right-footer just out of Seitz’s reach, drawing a round of applause from Shea.