Starting at right wing in a four-on-three drill, Rashawn Dally dribbled around Maikel van der Werff and slotted a low shot beneath Przemysław Tytoń.
The setting was an offseason FC Cincinnati practice, so the finish itself was insignificant. What was significant, though, was the selfish move from Dally highlighted his growth mentally and physically.
During the season, Dally would’ve quickly passed the ball to a teammate and made a run toward goal. In a sense, he wanted a supporting role.
But the decision to keep the ball – and score – showed the developing confidence in himself.
Picked No. 49 in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft from Quinnipiac University, Dally just hoped for a professional opportunity but eventually became an MLS starter.
While five FC Cincinnati rookies saw tremendous growth this past season, perhaps the most surprising one was Dally – the club’s last pick in the SuperDraft and the one presumably the least likely to make an impact this season.
Dally signed a professional contract Feb. 6 and was loaned to Memphis 901 FC a month later. But when interim head coach Yoann Damet needed more attacking options in the early summer, the forward was recalled.
On June 22, he made his first MLS start – before a sold-out crowd against the LA Galaxy and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Two games later, Dally scored his first MLS goal.
“For me person, I think it’s been good,” Dally said about his 2019. “I got opportunities on the field and I improved a lot and learned a lot about the league. So, from a personal standpoint, it was good.”
Dally’s growth was good for FC Cincinnati, too.
As a rookie, he made 12 league appearances and eight starts.
One of the club’s fastest players, he has the speed and intelligence to burst past opposing backline and move into a good attacking position.
And at 6-foot-2, he has the size to hold the ball up. The combo of size and speed differentiates him from FCC’s other forwards. Now, can he use that combination to his advantage?
While he’s still a project – during the offseason, coach Ron Jans said the biggest thing Dally needs is more experience and minutes – the striker proved he can step in and assist the team.
If his confidence can grow parallel to his ability, the Orange and Blue have a late-round pick who can provide meaningful contribution.
“Just the mental side of the game and having the confidence and reading the game, playing a bit quicker,” Dally said about things he’s seen personal improvement in. “Basically, every day when we were out in training, I just tried to work on something new. I’ve improved.”
His decision to keep the ball during the postseason four-on-three drill was something new, and it worked.