FRISCO, Texas – Fans of every sport are always seeking the next big thing.
And FC Dallas fans feel they’ve found exactly that in midfielder Paxton Pomykal.
In a 2-0 win over the LA Galaxy on March 9 at Toyota Stadium, Pomykal, 19, tabbed his first career assist when Bryan Acosta struck a thunderous full volley off Pomykal’s cross for his first MLS goal in the 61st minute.
But Pomykal is much more than a playmaker. Here’s 10 things you might not know about this FCD phenom.
He’s a believer in Luka Magic
Across town, the likely 2019 NBA Rookie of the Year, fellow 19-year-old Luka Doncic plays for the Dallas Mavericks, and like many, Pomykal is a fan of the Slovenian sensation.
“I have a Luka jersey. I got it even before the season started, before the hype train got going,” he said. “He’s my age too. It’s cool to see him doing his thing for the Mavs and me, Reggie [Cannon], all the young guys doing our thing for FC Dallas.”
Pomykal would welcome the chance to get his Doncic jersey signed should the Mavs’ rookie venture northward to Frisco to scarf the statue of Lamar Hunt at some point this season.
“Hopefully, we’ll see. I’d be a little starstruck,” he admitted.
Tunnel vision is a good thing
First-year FCD head coach Luchi Gonzalez previously coached Pomykal in the Dallas academy and knows the young midfielder and his game quite well.
One strength Gonzalez sees is how adept Pomykal is at focusing squarely on the task before him.
“He’s so focused on the day-to-day. He’s humble, he’s hungry and he’s trying to be the best he can today,” Gonzalez said. “In training today, he wants to make a difference. He’s not worried about Saturday. He’ll worry about Saturday after Friday’s training. That’s his mentality.”
Handy with a screwdriver
An avid gamer, Pomykal was intrigued by the idea of building his own gaming computer, so he did.
Big thanks to @ChildrensTheOne Plano for allowing some of our players to visit this morning. 😊 Video coming soon to https://t.co/KEyX5f5gtQ. pic.twitter.com/oKjvU9Q4wl
— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) August 16, 2017
“I thought that was a cool task. It took me a couple months to get all the parts together for the right price and yeah, it was fun,” he said. “It only took like three-and-a-half, four hours. People think it’s a lot harder than it is. It’s not that hard.”
Pomykal said the only tool he needed during the build was a magnetic screwdriver.
A student, and not just of the game
Like many of his MLS brethren, Pomykal furthers his education with classes from league partner Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU).
“Yeah, that’s the goal, just get the basics done for now and then figure out what I want to do later,” he said. “I do [have a major] right now, sports marketing, but it can always change.”
Pomykal saw how much free time he and his teammates have in the afternoon after training, and figured why not make productive use of that window?
“We have a lot of free time after training to do what we want, and I think that doing school is a productive thing for me to finish my day off,” he said.
An understated sports humorist
Matt Hedges, FCD’s co-captain and longest-tenured player (he’s been with the club since 2012), wouldn’t call Pomykal a class clown, but the veteran defender gives his teammate props for delivering timely comic relief.
“He’s not really [a class clown], but he comes out with some jokes sometimes. It’s not a common thing, but when they hit, they’re pretty good,” Hedges said. “It’s a lot different from when he was first here. Now, he’s much more talkative and you see his personality come out more.”
Paying rookie dues
Speaking of jokes, Pomykal relayed the story of how he had to tell a joke in front of the entire team at a team dinner during a 2017 road trip.
“My group had to tell a joke and that’s pretty horrific,” he said, when demurred when asked to re-tell the joke. “No. That’s for the team. From some of them [I got a good reaction].”
Pomykal had additional rookie duties, like lugging water between the locker room and training ground, but is thankful he didn’t have to lug around a pink backpack, a standard rookie rite in NBA circles.
A dynamic protagonist
In his central midfield role, Pomykal is adept at making things happen in the center of the pitch. And when asked what single word sums Pomykal up, Gonzalez offered two fitting choices.
“Dynamic is certainly one. Protagonist,” Gonzalez said. “[He] wants to make a contribution to the game in a positive way and that’s with and without the ball. Really happy to see him just grow and do what he does. We’re going to keep challenging him. We certainly want to keep making sure there’s challenge in Paxton’s environment so that he can reach his best.”
A number he wears with pride
Pomykal wears No. 19, a number worn by former Dallas Burn and FCD forward/defender Bobby Rhine during his playing days.
Paxton considers it a huge honor to wear the same digits as Rhine, also an analyst on Dallas’ television broadcasts, who died tragically of a heart attack in 2011.
What a pleasure to have Jake Rhine, Bobby’s son, visit the locker room after the match. Here he is with @PaxiPomy, who wears his dad’s number. 👍 pic.twitter.com/eDmtsH7ros
— FC Dallas (@FCDallas) July 15, 2018
“Yeah, I grew up coming to games, seeing Bobby and watching Bobby. To be able to embody the number and to embody his legacy means the world to me,” Pomykal said. “I go out there every day knowing that I’m carrying a legacy on my back as well, not just my name and my number. It’s Bobby’s number, so I have to represent it to the best of my ability.”
As someone who grew up in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area and attended FCD games in Frisco, Pomykal considers it a huge blessing to play for the same team he grew up watching and cheering for.
But he feels extra fortunate to be in the position to have friends and family see him play on a regular basis.
“It’s awesome. It’s cool to be able to have my dad and my mom come out to every game,” he said. “My brothers and my grandparents even have season tickets now, so it’s awesome to have that support.”
To no one’s surprise
Anyone who saw Pomykal play during his days with the FCD academy knew it was only a matter of time before this kid was wowing everyone as a member of the first team.
That’s exactly what Hedges felt the first time he saw his now-teammate on the field.
“No,” said Hedges when asked if it was surprising to see Pomykal reach his current level. “We saw it. In training, we knew. [We figured] once he puts it all together for 90 minutes, that’s what you’re seeing out there now. It’s just the consistency that he needed and now you see it.”