Pomykal on FC Dallas Minutes and Personal Goals
Pomykal on FC Dallas Minutes and Personal Goals
Paxton Pomykal is a local favorite. An explosive FC Dallas midfielder, he’s fun to watch on the field and entertaining off the field, too. Paxton talks to Hustle and Pro about his return from hip surgery in the fall of 2020, and how he’s managing the minutes as he eases back into a full 90+.
We talk about the mustache bros, Paxton’s dad, and where he sits with goals to get back to the USMNT.
Enjoy this episode and other episodes of Hustle and Pro in our archives.
[00:48] Growth since he signed in 2016
[01:47] Approach to training and game minutes returning from injury
[06:54] Paxton’s role in the locker room
[08:56] USMNT & Europe
Resources within this episode:
- FC Dallas: Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook
- Paxton Pomkyal: FCD Bio | Instagram @paxipomy| Twitter @PaxiPomy
- Kelly Walker: Bio | Instagram @kelly_walkertexas | Twitter: @kelly_walker_TX
Connect with Lifestyle Frisco:
Welcome to Hustle & Pro. I’m your host, Kelly Walker. Paxton Pomykal is our guest. He’s a big guest, very excited to welcome the FC Dallas, home-grown to the show. Hi, Paxton. Hey, Kelly. How are you? I’m great. Well, like I said, I’m excited to have you on, so this is your first time officially here on Hustle & Pro. Um, I have interviewed you before, actually, for a few years, kind of going back to the very beginning. Um, you, you won’t remember, but it was one of your first days after you signed with the first team and you were in the clubhouse back when, when people like me could walk around the halls and ask you guys questions. And so, um, I have been following your career for a couple of years now. So, it’s great to finally have you on here. And speaking of that, so we’re all kind of watching you grow up through this system, obviously, um, you know, you signed in 2016 and so you’re several years in. I just kind of want to hear it from your point of view. Like, what do you feel like the areas of your own growth have been since you got here?
Yeah. No, that’s fair. It’s it has been a long time. Uh, like you said, 2016 was when I first signed. So we’re on technically Year 5, but pretty much Year 6 ’cause I had a half-year. Yeah. A lot, a lot has changed. I’ve definitely matured. Not only in the way I play, but also just as a person naturally. When you’re 16, you’re not as mature as a 21-year-old and you have to learn how to grow up pretty fast. But I feel like my game has matured a lot as well and in a way where I’m not chasing the ball as much,.and I’m finding better pockets and not- understanding when to exert more energy and just playing as a, as an older, more mature player.
Yeah, absolutely. It makes sense. Um, as you come back from your hip injury, that was fall of 2020, right. Um, so now when we talk, it’s almost summer of ’21. So I’m curious. When you, um, as you approach like training, for example, each week, do you approach that with the goal right now of earning more minutes for each game? And then also when you’re getting into the game scenarios, are you- because you’re coming back- are you approaching games with the feeling that like you have to make those minutes count more than when you’re a starter because you’re trying to earn more of them?
Yeah, I mean, that’s a great question. For me right now. I’m going into training every week. I think I’m at a point now where it’s been over two months. Actually, not over two months, about two months since I had my last scar tissue break and I’ve been feeling really good medically and been coming in games and making an impact and making a difference. So for me right now, it’s, it’s- I’m feeling fit. Um, my numbers are good and training and even in the games, GPS numbers and whatnot. But I’ve also not played 90 minutes since 2019, which is a long time. So I understand getting eased back into things after two major surgeries, not really getting many minutes last year, but I’m, I’m fighting to, to be able to get more minutes, like you said, and start. And coming into games, it’s been a little bit different this year for me, because I know in the first, at least for the first, what are we six games in so far, I knew I was going to be coming off the bench. Um, kind of having that mindset of reading the game and figuring out what the game needs and analyzing where I think I might go in whether it’s winger or in the midfield or how, how I can improve the quality of, of the game and make an immediate impact as soon as I get on the field. Because whether it’s 15, 20 minutes, you don’t have 90 minutes to solidify yourself in the lineup and impact. So you have to kind of come in and be buzzing right away and give the game what it needs.
So, it seems like when you have, um, come in and get those 15, 20 minutes in, that you’re more active. I know although you said you settled down and can see things different, but I feel like because your minutes are limited, I, and you are watching to see what the game needs, like, you are everywhere. Um, probably because you have the energy, you know, you only have 20 minutes. Yeah, exactly.
I mean, it’s, it’s natural, like, right. It’s, it’s natural. If you’re only going to play 15, 20 minutes, that you’re going to be able to put out, uh, more minutes or meters per minute than a guy that plays 90 minutes. Uh, my goal is to be tired by the end of the game, you know, I don’t want to have to save energy. There’s no point. And so to, to give exertion that at that level for 20 minutes, that obviously it’s going to look like I’m running everywhere and trying to do everything. Don’t get me wrong: it’s great. But sometimes that sometimes that’s exactly what the game needs, right? When it’s the 60, 65th minute, and guys start this, you start to see a little bit of tired legs, sometimes, uh, subs just need to bring the energy and it’s contagious. Right. So if I come in and I started running everywhere and sprinting everywhere and making plays, then it kind of gives hope to the rest of the team and brings them up. And I’m a big believer in like contagious energy. And if somebody’s gonna to do it, then the rest will follow.
Yeah, for sure. I mean, there’ll be a need maybe all of a sudden there’s a play on the backline and like, “oh, that was Paxton. He, what is he doing back there?” But it’s great. It’s been fun to watch. So then what is your personal timeline on getting back in the starting 11, even if it’s different from your coaches? Like, what is your hope?
My, my goal personally is, is to be starting. Um, I I’d like to end the next few games, like potentially, maybe this weekend. Obviously I have to do well in training and prove why I should be out there, but, um, physically I’m feeling great. Everything’s been going well. And so sometimes it’s also like, even if I’m managing minutes still, it’s like maybe I get a start in play 50, 55 60, not have to go the full 90, which I I’d assume when I get my first start, that’s probably how it’s going to be, unless I’m just flying, feeling great out there and I still have a lot of energy, but most likely it’ll, it’ll a planned substitution, but hopefully that comes pretty soon. But obviously form is a big thing as well, just because I’m healthy and back doesn’t necessarily mean I’m going to be starting. And we have a lot of talent on that team. So I have to compete and show I should be out there.
Right. Yeah, I didn’t think about that: starting and not finishing the game is another option to work towards. So you mentioned a planned substitution. So, so, um, you could go into it knowing that you’re starting, but that you’re only gonna have X number of minutes or maybe that’s-
I mean, that’s not something we’ve discussed, but I had assume that that when, when the time comes is probably going to be the case. I don’t see me jumping. I mean that maybe one game like that or one or two games, but I don’t see me jumping from 20, 25, 30 minutes to, to a full 90 right away. Um, yeah. I mean, I’d love to do that, but I don’t think our medical staff would be too happy about that.
Well, it’s not- yeah. Probably not the safest for you physically either. All right. So, um, it’s been a long year or so. Um, since we saw some of the fun stuff happening, like the mustache brothers and all the hype videos and all the cool stuff you guys are getting to do last summer, um, before everything kind of changed. So I’m curious is your, is that your role, um, in this club? Like, are you the funny, fun-hype guy?
I don’t know. We have a lot of personalities on our team and we have a lot of entertaining players and guys that crack jokes and make people laugh and everybody has their own kind of persona. And last year I kinda, I was the mustache man and different things like that and making fun videos. But I think we have a lot of guys on our team that take on that role. And there’s so many guys on the team that are just flat out hilarious. I wouldn’t even consider myself one of the funniest guys on the team. There’s guys in the locker room that are just so funny. Who’s the funniest? Oh, man. I think the cake probably goes to Eddie Munjoma and Dante and Nkosi are probably the three funniest guys in the locker room.
Eddie’s great. I’ve had him on this podcast. I need to, I need to get the other guys.
He’s just a great- he’s like a ball of energy. He’s like very happy, uplifting. He’s he’s a great piece to have in the locker room. Is he ever not smiling? Right, exactly.
He just seems always positive. So yeah. Did you ever think that the mustache bit would make, would like, cause so much attention?
No, it was literlly a joke at first because Ryan was had a beard. And I was like, “yo dude, like when you shave your beard next, like just keep your mustache because I’m going to get one and we can like have it together.” And that was in pre-season of last year. Everybody loved it. Like that- it was not even planned. It was more of a joke. Like I don’t look better with a mustache by any means, but it’s more just like for the giggles for the laughs and for the fun of it. So- it’ll be back for sure. I might bring it back when, when I grow this out real quick.
Okay, all right. So I’m going to talk about, um, national team stuff. So you’ve gotten a taste of playing with the US Men’s National Team and with some of our, the best players in our country. So when are you, um, shooting for getting back out there with them? Um, do you have World Cup qualifiers in your sights? Like what, what is your goal and plan with that team?
It’s difficult because my goal is obviously always to get back there as soon as possible. But realistically speaking, like whenever that may be, I’m going to take that opportunity. And I love playing for my country. I love playing for the national team, but that’s not anything that’s remotely on my mind at the moment. Um, yeah, it’s, it’s a long shot for me, personally. I, I think to, to be in those until I’m starting and playing games week-in and week-out and showing why I deserve to be there. I mean, I I’ve come on as a sub six times and I didn’t really play at all last year. So off reputation alone, I don’t, I don’t think that that’s something that a national team does, that they were guys that play, uh, informed and that are doing well for their clubs. And they always reiterate there that the most important thing you can do to come back is play, be the best player and play the best you can at your clubs. And [inaudible] play 90 minutes week-in and week-out, did assist different things like that. So for me, right now, all my focus is just on the season with FC Dallas and, and staying healthy and also contributing to the team and, and starting to get back and lineups and-
Yeah. I mean, that’s all you can control, you know, your past experience and exposure with men’s national team helps, but then yeah, right now it’s all you can do is just keep, keep getting your game back out there. But you also never know, like we are just seeing like players like Justin, who kind of surprise everybody and get out there earlier than even maybe they thought-
No, absolutely. And you see he’s, he’s playing games with, uh, Byron too and, and playing really well at that and, uh, deserves a call up and now he’s there. So it’s, it’s crazy how fast the soccer world works. And I’m sure maybe if I, if I get a string of games and maybe that opportunity will present itself, but that’s, that’s not really my focus at the moment.
How much interaction and exposure did you have with, um, players like Christian Pulisic? Um,
I met him at one of the camps and so, uh, that’s, that’s the only time I’ve really like hung out with him and talked to him. He’s a really good guy, phenomenal player. Like I think our most talented player at the moment, obviously he’s, he’s crazy skillful and training even in games. So by, I don’t really have too much interaction with him. Yeah. Really nice guy.
Yeah. Good. Well, we all, we all think you’re, you’re right behind him, so that the next, the next Pulisic that comes out of the Dallas area. Um, so I also want to know when we’re talking about your goals. I know you’re not focused on that today and because of your coming back from your injury last year, you have your own, you know, small steps that you’re getting back out there and achieving. But when we talk about like, what are your goals even, um, international play in different things. So maybe, maybe if you don’t have that specific answer, then I want to frame it in a different way like maybe through your dad’s eyes or something. So your dad, you know, we all know that he was, um, is supportive and very, um, invested and involved in your soccer career. So if I was to ask him, where you will be two or three years from now, like, what would those expectations be?
Uh, see, I see what you did there. That’s, that’s not fair. My dad- I know, he’s very supportive, like you said, and he always wants what’s best for me. And at the end of the day, he knows that I’m going to make decisions for myself. And no, no matter the decision I make, he’s going to support that. But yeah, I’d love to, I’ve always said growing up that I’d love to play in Champions League. Uh, that’s, that’s always been a dream and a goal of mine, but that’s, that’s a different, that’s, that’s the top of the top, the cream of the crop. So to get there, like, like I said earlier, it’s just important for me to really train hard and play well and focus on soccer and not let outside distractions bother me and just really, really get back into the game. And yeah, this, this year is really important for me. That’s for sure. Yeah.
So I don’t know about a year and a half ago, Reggie was on here with me and his, he openly talked about his goal to play in Europe. Yeah.
And he’s, yeah, he’s, he’s always been very, very much, um, open about that. And very, I roomed with Reggie for three years. He’s one of my best friends. I talk to him every week. He’s, he’s always been the type to be like, “my dream is to play in Europe.” Anytime anyone will ask me, like, he’s very open about that. And I’ve always been the type of person to be very “live in the moment.” And I don’t like to look too far in the future nor the past. And so I can only focus on what I can control right now. And so I don’t really like to look too far into the future. It’s not fun as an interviewer people to speculate what I want to do and whatnot. Honestly, myself, I have no idea. So yeah.
Well, nobody, um, once you the over-speculate at all, I just wonder, like I do think with Reggie being so kind of putting it out there so much, it makes people like me, um, even that much more excited when he did get the opportunity and because the timing of everything really loved knowing that, um, that was his goal anyways, regardless of what’s happening in Dallas, Texas at the time. Um, and so it just was like even more sweet for everybody to enjoy that for him. But I do wonder like seeing your, your, your best friends and your teammates take those paths that, that probably does like influence you a little bit more on looking at some of these different paths people are taking-
Absolutely. Yeah. Everybody has their own path and mine still being written, uh, which is the best part about it. But ultimately my dream as a kid, my goal as a kid was to play professional soccer. So at this point now it’s everything else is a bonus. Playing in Champions League, that’s, that’s a bonus. Playing against the best players, top players in the world, playing in a World Cup national team, all those things are just the cherry on top to my dream as a kid. And I’m living in the moment and living that dream.
So, when you’re dreaming that as a kid, who are the players, you’re thinking of that you’re watching?
Thierry Henry was my, my favorite player of all time. I still to this day people, when they asked me like, who’s your favorite current player? It’s just, I can’t, I can’t even answer that question because like diehard, Arsenal fan growing up, and for me, he was the guy that just like made me fall in love with the game.
So then I would have to guess, and I would hope me as a local person and as a fan that I would want your time with the MLS to stay here in this, in this club. This is your, you know, your backyard. Do you, um, like that notion or would you want to get experience and exposure, you know, in other parts of the MLS?
It’s difficult to say and answer that question because it’s, it’s, soccer is a business and it’s a two-way street, right? So I have a player have a say, so in, in some regard, but the club also has a say so, right. And if a club doesn’t want to player, then ultimately the player has to pick, pack his bags and go find a different destination. So it’s, it’s hard to say as a player, whether or not you wanna stay somewhere for your whole lifetime or whether or not you want to move somewhere because soccer is fluid. And one day I could be gone tomorrow if some team offers a great deal for me or some team offers a great trade and Dan thinks it’s good business for the club. And I think it’s a good opportunity for myself and that would happen. Or if Dan wants me to stay my entire career and that’s something I want to do in the future, then that’s when, when we get there, we’ll get there. But it’s, it’s hard to answer that question because soccer is a two-way street and the teams also have a lot of influence on, on where players ended up.
And you’re also seeing both of those scenarios play out. We’re talking about Year 5, really Year 6 here, when you see like Matt Hedges and you do see players stick with kind of these franchise players, but then you also have played with like Tesho and, um, Decor and all these other guys who have moved around the league. Um, and then you kind of get to see their pads and stories too. So, but I also wonder when, when you talk about like Thierry Henry um, like do international players that come to the MLS when they’re done elsewhere, uh, do them coming to MLS teams catch your attention at all and thinking like, “huh, it would be, it would be cool to go play with those guys.”?
I mean, I think that could happen with us to be fair. Like it there’s guys around the league that came from Europe on, on every single team basically. So it’s just whether or not what kind of name they had and what kind of career they had, but it’s just as fun to play against them. I tell you that to be able to compete and showcase, I can do against guys that I grew up watching that’s that’s a dream in itself. So yeah, it would be really cool to be in a locker room and learn and, and grow under a guy like Thierry Henry for example. But it’s also really fun to play against the rooneys and the nannies and all those guys too, and compete and show it. You can do
Yeah. Prepare for them and yeah, cause you, it’s kind of their disadvantage that everyone knows how much I can watch them play for so long and knows so many nuances of their game. So you get to prepare and go try to shut those guys down or something.
It’s- you can see 15, 20 years of, of guys playing and film of these guys, but they’re playing at that level for a reason. And it’s no matter how much film you can watch, they’re going to do their thing. So you have to do the same thing on the other side of the wall.
Yeah. Well, congrats on getting to the major dream of obviously playing professional soccer. You’ve checked that off your list five years ago. So it’s really fun to watch you continue to, um, grow and check off different parts of those dreams off your list too. So, um, yeah. Thanks for, thanks for your time. I know you guys are busy training and getting ready for the next sort of section of this season. So thank you for coming on with us.
Thank you very much. Thanks for having me
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