Nico Estevez: "We are ready to go."
FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez spoke with media today ahead of a huge match against Austin FC to kick off the rest of the Major League Soccer season.
FC Dallas’ last action was the thriller against Inter Miami all the way back on August 6, a match that even had Lionel Messi talking about the offensive threat that Dallas posed against his team.
Since then, a match against the Philadelphia Union was postponed, and that expected break turned into something a bit longer.
The good news is that FC Dallas head coach Nico Estevez can report that the team is healthy and refreshed as they welcome in-state rivals Austin FC.
“We used it as a time to refresh our mind, after a really condensed and tight schedule in the first part of the season and also with the Leagues Cup and heat,” Nico told reporters. “It was good for us to refresh a little bit. Get away and come back with a mind focused on MLS.”
One thing that the Leagues Cup centered in the mind of Nico and the players, with eleven games remaining, is how important each game and opponent is. There is no room to slouch off or overlook an opponent. With such a minimal distance between so many teams in the Western Conference, a quick winning streak can catapult FC Dallas up the standings.
“One important thing is that we have 11 games left to end the season. One of the things that we can take as positive is the Leagues Cup that we can use for the next game in front of us - in Leagues Cup, every game was important. If you lose a game, you are out,” Nico said. “That importance of every single game, every single action in the game - that is the thing we can take now into MLS to help us approach the games with a different urgency and a different mindset.”
Two playters Nico talked about our Jesus Ferreira and Alan Velasco, who are both set to player important roles down the stretched.
I asked specifically if we can expect to see Velasco in the middle in future games, and Nico was quick to affirm that plan.
“With Alan we knew he could play wide or inside when we signed him, we saw that versatility when we were recruiting him,” Nico said. “The thing with him is the more understanding of the game when playing inside. When you have to play inside and more central, your tactical knowledge and awareness is much much different than playing wide. Your soccer IQ and tactical has to be high. When he came, the best way to help him grow in that area was to push him wide, create some variations. Giving him freedom but in a very organized type of instruction. After a year and half, he has developed an IQ that you need to be able to play well centrally on the pitch. That's why we thought it was a good moment to move him there. He felt confident there. Overall, we are very happy having him inside. And yeah, you can see that moving forward.”
The roster is going to be very competitive down the stretch now that everyone is healthy and hungry for playing time. Even newcomer Illaramendi is gaining speed and could be available for 45 to 60 minutes if needed. And with September’s tight schedule, there will be opportunity for players to earn starts and rotations to come.
FC Dallas welcomes Austin FC on Saturday evening, a match that will decide FC Dallas’ potential opportunity to claim the Copa Tejas.
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