Paxton Pomykal is just the latest homegrown player to make an impact in the 2019 Major League Soccer season. The 19-year-old FC Dallas midfielder has continued to grow as a professional after getting a small taste of senior team action it over his first two seasons.
Pomykal has become a regular for Luchi Gonzalez’s side and returning from the U.S. U-20 Men’s National Team couldn’t have come at a better time. After helping the U-20’s to a third-consecutive quarterfinals appearance at the U-20 World Cup, Pomykal is ready to turn his sights back toward his club.
“I feel good, my legs feel good, obviously we just played Open Cup and I got thirty minutes on the field,” Pomykal told SBI. “It felt good to be back with the team. Just been trying to switch the mentality back from the National Team to FC Dallas, and putting all my focus to getting results with Dallas. Overall I’ve been happy. I’m rejuvenated and ready to go for the next game.”
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster to be honest,” Pomykal said. “Everybody has their ups and downs not just in soccer. I was waiting patiently my first two years, shadowing some veteran guys and seeing what was needed to be a true professional. Seeing how they take care of their bodies, working everyday to get better, seeing how and what they do in training. I think it really helped me out following guys like Kellyn [Acosta] and Victor [Ulloa], having the same process as me. I’ve been able to translate that over to the field, making more appearances and being more comfortable playing 90 minutes. I feel really good.”
After just eight combined appearances over his first two years, Pomykal has seen the field 11 times with Dallas in 2019. He’s made nine starts which has also see him score his first two-career MLS goals and register his first two MLS assists. Overall, it’s been the next step of the process for Pomykal who also recently was named to the 2019 MLS All-Star Team.
Under new head coach Luchi Gonzalez, Pomykal has been able to bring an edge to the FC Dallas midfield. He’s continued the trend of young, homegrown players seeing consistent minutes for the club, a theme that has seen several other players appear in 2019.
“It’s definitely positive, it’s what the team strives for,” Pomykal said. “We want guys from the academy to come through the ranks then hopefully move on to bigger and better things. Myself, Brandon [Servania], Edwin [Cerillo], and Chris [Richards] all FC Dallas academy guys appeared at the World Cup which I think was the most by any MLS team.”
“It’s the way we do things at the club, we signed Ricardo [Pepi] which adds another guy to the mix. It’s another example of what the club’s goals are and it’s awesome that we have 9-10 guys being homegrowns on the senior roster. It makes it more comfortable going forward.”
Gonzalez’s hiring as head coach was a move that was a safe one for FC Dallas. A familiar face to the organization, Gonzalez has continued the goals of the club and the tradition of playing homegrown players in both league and cup matches.
Although the team late hit a dry spell during Pomykal’s absence with the U-20’s, Gonzalez has stuck to his ideas which recently saw the club earn their seventh league win of 2019. Former head coach Oscar Pareja gave Pomykal his debut back in 2017 and Gonzalez has continued to have faith in the midfielder since Pareja left to become coach of Club Tijuana.
“I think Luchi has helped me out a lot, as well as the whole coaching staff we have,” Pomykal said. “I don’t think the philosophy of the club has changed all that much, Luchi has come in and tried to carry on the legacy of the club when Oscar was here. Playing homegrowns, the academy being the heart of the club, myself and Jesus [Ferreira] going out every week. He’s sprinkling in his style every now and then and I think it’s been successful what he’s been doing.”
“I have seen my game adapt but it’s only been a short time. You’re never going to wake up and be a totally different player overnight. I think I’ve grown not only on the field, but off it as well. Being a pro it takes its toll on your body and mind, but I feel more ready for matches and fitter than I did when I first started my career with Dallas.”
As Pomykal continues to groom move his way up the charts in MLS, his international status is also changing. Pomykal is coming off U-20 duty under head coach Tab Ramos in Poland, helping the U.S. advance to the quarterfinals before being eliminated by Ecuador.
It was Pomykal’s final sendoff as he no longer can represent the U-20’s due to his age and can now be considered for the U-23’s or the senior USMNT. Although the final result didn’t go his or the team’s way, the opportunity to make a World Cup and feature in it under an experienced coach like Ramos is one that Pomykal certainly won’t forget anytime soon.
“The experience was incredible, the spirit of the World Cup is tough to describe,” Pomykal said. “Although it was a U-20 World Cup it’s still treated the same, the only difference is the age requirement. To be able to play in that was an honor for myself, the club, and I was just really happy do that. The results were fairly decent, but the last one left a bitter taste even though I thought we did well as a whole. It was the last hurrah for the cycle with guys that I’ve played with for the last 3-4 years. It was fun to be able to do that since I probably won’t be able to that with those guys for a while.”
“Tab is a great coach as well as a guy. All of the players have a good relationship with him and obviously it’s a bit difficult because you aren’t working with your National Team coach all the time. I think he has the pedigree to get a job somewhere else since making three U-20 World Cup quarterfinals is still an incredible achievement. I’d love to play for him at a club someday.”
FC Dallas will now fight for MLS glory only the remainder of the season after being eliminated by lower-league competition from the U.S. Open Cup. A 3-0 win over struggling Toronto FC last weekend was a positive bounce-back and one that kept them fourth in the Western Conference. Now that Pomykal is back in full swing with the club, the goal will be to continue pushing up the table this summer.
“Before the World Cup my priorities was to get on the field and earn minutes since we have six talented midfielders,” Pomykal said. “I am really happy to get the opportunity to help the team try and start a winning streak again. We haven’t had the results here over the past six and seven matches, we need to try and make a run at things for the remainder of the season and get a playoff spot.”