Soccer will come back eventually for FC Dallas, but at the moment, head coach Luchi Gonzalez says that’s not on his mind.
The coach spoke with reporters on a conference call Tuesday, a day after it was announced FC Dallas had been withdrawn from the MLS is Back Tournament due to 10 players and one staff member being confirmed positive for COVID-19. It’s been a difficult few days, to say the least, as the team has quarantined in Orlando with the goal of getting the players recovered before going back to Texas, and Gonzalez said that objective is currently consuming all his energy.
“[Soccer] is not my priority, the priority is family, the players, their recovery and their health — that is No. 1 and [that is] every inch of my body and every thought in my mind right now,” Gonzalez said. “But with time, the game is going to come back as the priority for this club and this team.”
Gonzalez said the knowledge that they’ll eventually be able to back together playing again has left the group feeling motivated and inspired despite the circumstances. He added that the players on the team who tested positive are “feeling strong”, with many of them at the back end of their recoveries.
“It’s about little steps: Getting a breath of fresh air eventually. Having a team walk,” he said. “I don’t know if we’ll have a team meal here, I don’t know if it’s safe enough, but one day we’re going to have a team meal. Zoom has helped us stay connected. It’s hard because when you’re in person, there’s energy. I’m a hugger, I haven’t been able to hug any of these players for five months and that hurts me as a leader. But I’m going to hug them in a different way.
“I have to improve my other senses,” he continued. “If you lose a sense, you still have your heart, you still have your head. You need to super-compensate that because of that loss of the sense. We’re super-compensating right now with just love and belief and support that we’re going to be stronger after all of this. Soccer is the last thing on our minds. It’s about will to get healthy and then soccer is going to naturally come back to us. The will is everything. That can’t guarantee us anything but it’s going to give us much more possibility and probably to come out of this stronger.”
It’s been a mentally taxing stretch of days for his players, to be sure, but Gonzalez said he’s already witnessed that unity among his players even though they can’t physically interact, and that he believes they’ll be to channel that energy whenever they can play again.
“Now we’re suffering, but it’s nice that we have the opportunity to get better, to learn, and to get stronger — that’s life,” Gonzalez said. “I wish the best for all the teams in the tournament. I want the tournament to continue and that there’s a winner, and big congratulations to the champion.”