Major League Soccer

Paxton Pomykal says FC Dallas need 'more anger' to compete for MLS Cup Playoff spots

Chris Smith
Pomykal suffered less from injury in 2021 but has bigger aims this year.
Pomykal suffered less from injury in 2021 but has bigger aims this year. / Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

FC Dallas midfielder Paxton Pomykal believes he and his teammates fell short in terms of competitiveness during the 2021 season.

The Frisco club finished 11th in the Western Conference with just seven wins from 34 regular-season games, missing out on the MLS Cup Playoffs for only the seventh time in their history.

But new head coach Nico Estevez and the FC Dallas front office have been hard at work reshaping their roster this offseason. Rising USMNT star Ricardo Pepi - who scored 13 goals in 31 MLS appearances last year - has been sold to FC Augsburg for $20m, first reported by 90min, while fellow youngster Justin Che has also moved to the German Bundesliga on loan to Hoffenheim.

Where in the past Dallas have allowed their academy products to move abroad with little investment made to replace them, this time the club have brought in substantial reinforcements. United States international winger Paul Arriola arrived from DC United for $2m in General Allocation Money - a record amount of GAM - followed by Argentine forward Alan Velasco from Independiente for a club-record $7m.

Pomykal - capped once for the United States at the senior level - welcomes the new talent, but has called upon the rest of the team to show 'more anger' this coming season.

“I really do think that the guys we’re bringing in and the squad we have is a really good one, and we need to just adopt the mentality of winning and being aggressive and just competing,” Pomykal told reporters on Thursday.

“I feel like we didn’t compete enough last year, which is kind of a weird thing to say because you don’t go on the field to lose games, but we just need to have a bit more anger in the way we play.”

As for Pomykal himself, you'd forgive him for feeling a little jealousy at watching the likes of Pepi, Che, Bryan Reynolds, and Reggie Cannon leave the club for Europe in recent years. The midfielder was once counted highly among those talents but has seen his development stalled by a number of serious injuries.

But Pomykal played a career-high 31 regular-season MLS games in 2021 and at 22 years old, still has time on his side. This time around, he's looking to add his best form to the consistency of his fitness.

“Last year was a good stepping stone for me, but at the end of the day I didn’t play my best soccer,” Pomykal said. “And with that, we also as a team did not play very well. So I want to contribute and be more productive in helping the team win this year. And hopefully, I can do that and play a lot of minutes and keep us in the playoff spots and hopefully in the top two or top three.”

FC Dallas begin their 2022 campaign at home to Toronto FC on February 26, before traveling to Supporters' Shield holders New England Revolution on March 5.