The midfield of a team is what links the defense to the offense, or the offense to the defense depending on how you think. Every club has their own ways of doing things through the midfield and FC Dallas is no different. The club under Schellas Hyndman as we know loves to maintain possession and move the ball around a lot before finding that break out play that puts a shot on target or even better scores.
Each new season presents the same challenge for any club as well, what happens in each area of the field. For Dallas there are still plenty of questions all over the field but today I wanted to take a look at what is going on in the midfield.
The Defensive Link
In the 4-1-4-1 that Hyndman uses, that defensive midfield spot is a vital role for the club. Its the true engine of the midfield in my book as we saw out of Daniel Hernandez last season. When Hernandez is healthy and fit the club moves through the midfield in a different manner. Thankfully the veteran captain is getting healthy once again for the new season and as long as he remains healthy for this campaign, the club should have no worries about this role in the midfield.
However, should Hernandez go down for any extended time, it seems we could see guys like rookie Bobby Warshaw or newcomer Andrew Jacobson be called to fill in on this role. Both are similar to Hernandez in size and playing time on the field but both just need more experience to fill that captain-like quality that Hernandez possesses.
The Central (Dax) Role
This has been a hot topic of discussion for FCD fans and for some MLS writers. When FCD left Dax McCarty open in the expansion draft last fall we knew what was going on. I've written several times on here and on WVHooligan as to why the club did this move. Filling this role isn't easy though as McCarty was a machine for the club when he was healthy. It seems as though some folks are quick to forget that McCarty did spend a good chunk of last season on the bench nursing injuries.
So far this preseason we've seen the likes of a few players trying to fill the hole left by McCarty in the midfield. You have Eric Alexander, who filled in last year in a big way trying to show he is worth a starting position; Ricardo Villar, a newcomer that was hand-picked by TD Barry Goreman; Eric Avila, a speedy winger who's shown he's better off left out on the wings; Bruno Guarda, a guy that really needs to step up if he wants to stay with the club; and even newcomer Jacobson.
All have their pluses and minuses surrounding them.
To me Villar hasn't shown a lot due to some fitness issues he's had in the preseason. Hyndman has said before that it would take him a few weeks to get fully fit and be able to do anything noteworthy. My gut feeling is he'll be a bench warmer to begin the season if anything.
Right now it comes down to Jacobson or Alexander for this role in the midfield. Alexander hasn't looked great this preseason. Jacobson is still getting used to his new teammates so it could be some time before he fills into this role if the club truly needs him to.
I think this is one of those areas that most FC Dallas fans feel absolutely comfortable in. With the emergence of Marvin Chavez and the budding star that is Brek Shea, most fans have to feel good about where the club is at in these two wide players. Behind them isn't too terrible either as we've seen guys like Avila, Jackson, and Zac Loyd step in when needed.
I see this as a huge year for both Shea and Chavez. In the playoffs last fall we saw the start of breakout role that Chavez could play for the club.
The Offensive Link
Do I really need to explain how important David Ferreria is to the club? His role in the midfield is a vital one for the offense. As the withdrawn striker, he is the link between the two, the catalyst if you will that gets things going. 3rdDegree.net's Todd Date asks an important question though surrounding Ferreira, will he be a victim of his own success this year?
If Villar can ever get fit enough to be the sub for Ferreira, things should work out fine in 2011 for FCD. We could also eventually see a home grown effect on this role too off the bench with Bryan Levya as well.
Later on I'll take a look at both the defense and forward groups for the club as well.