With just over 24 hours until kickoff, I traded three questions with Denz of RSL Soapbox. Thanks to Denz for the time and you know the drill. First my 3 questions for him then vice versa.
1. The most obvious question is without Fabian Espindola and Jaimison Olave in the lineup, what kind of changes will we see from RSL on Wednesday to fill those spots?
I actually expected you would probably have seen at least one of those two rotated out on Wednesday, due to the 2nd Sat-Wed-Sat scheduling for RSL. Those two are a huge part of RSL but I would expect you will see Paulo Jr. get the start up top with Alvaro Saborio and you will see Chris Schuler fill in for Jamison Olave, neither change will likely have a hugely negative impact on what RSL can do on the pitch.Clearly those are the first choices at their positions, but we did see a rotation up top the last time we had 3 matches in 7 days, so it may change the combo that Jason wanted to use on Wednesday but probably not the fact that he would have rotated players. When Nat Borchers was out early in the year it was Chris Schuler who got the nod and was nothing but rock solid on the back line, I think he probably would be a starter on a lot of MLS teams, but with two guys who have back to back defender of the year nods, hard to take their job. I do think you will likely see a couple other changes as well with the RSL lineup caused by the 3 matches in such a short time frame.
2. RSL won 5 of the first 6 games, but have lost their last two. What went right in their winning streak and what has gone wrong in the last couple games?
In the SKC match I am not sure much went wrong other than having a forward who’s defensive marking has been suspect for a long time, and a failure to make some on the pitch changes to what we do when our normal offense wasn’t working. It is an issue with most forward who are thrust into defending on set pieces and with Sporting having so many big bodies it was one of the things I was worried about before the match.
I also think that Alvaro Saborio got taken out of his game physically and mentally early in the match, and that left RSL dealing with an additional issue during that match. I would have loved to see have a bit more flexibility and diversity in our midfield when we run into matches like that or teams that play an additional midfielder to slow our offense down.
On Saturday it was two mistakes that really cost RSL what could have been 3 huge points, first was the sloppy attempt on the ball by Fabian Espindola. It was a bad tackle, but to lunge in like that on a ball in the midfield that was going nowhere was simply a bad choice that left RSL in a hole. Funny thing is that for 10 minutes after that foul I thought we outplayed San Jose despite being down a man, then a lapse on defense as the half was ending gave up a goal in stoppage time of the first half.
The second half started with us doing well despite being down a man and we actually forced the issue after a great goal by Kyle Beckerman, but it all went for waste on a mistake call that issued a red card to Jamison Olave on a non-foul play. From there RSL held on with all they could and only in a strangely long (6 minute) stoppage time were San Jose able to break down our defense and score a couple of late goals. Two mistakes sure were costly.
3. Luis Gil was born in November of 1993(I feel old) and yet he’s playing a huge part in the RSL starting XI, having started 7 of 8 games. Talk about how this cornerstone of the US U20 squad is playing and what Dallas needs to do to shut him down on Wednesday.
Yeah, he makes me feel older everytime I see him, then I remember he has been around for 3 years and is still just 18 years old. I think you will likely see Luis back in the starting XI on Wednesday as we do a little rotation, he will either be at the top or on the side of the diamond. He has really stepped up and shown that he is ready for a bigger role with RSL, he was tossed to the lions a bit last year when Javier Morales was out with his injury, and to be honest it took him some time to adjust to it.
This year he came into camp bigger (he grew a couple inches and added a few pounds) and I think that has really helped him be more confident on the ball, he knows he can stand up to the challenges of opponents better. He continues to work hard at every practice and opportunity to play to continue developing his skills and I think it has really started to shine through for everyone to see.
To shut him down requires assigning a man to mark him each time he gets the ball and applying very quick pressure to him, he still will take time to find the next pass, so if you can catch him before then you can cause him some problems, but he is getting better and better at quick passes so whoever is assigned him will need to stay very close.
Bonus: We just talked about Gil, but tell us about another RSL player who may not be a household name that could do some damage against FCD on Wednesday.
I would say there are two players you will want to watch out for, Jonny Steele and Sebastian Velasquez, both are new to RSL this year so they might not be known as well by opponents yet. Sebastian is a young, dynamic player who brings an unbridled energy and passion to the lineup and his skill on and off the ball is mighty good as well.
He is still adjusting to MLS and his RSL teammates but I think everyone has high expectations for the Junior college player who caught everyone but RSL off guard on draft day. Jonny Steele is a journeyman of North American soccer, who brings a physical and mental toughness to RSL, along with a great left foot for both scoring and crossing. He plays the game without fear, which makes him an instant favorite of fans, originally from Northern Ireland, he has been a welcomed addition to the RSL midfield.
And now my answers to his questions....
1. Last year everyone was talking about Brek Shea after the injury to David Ferreria, but this year Brek has been anything but buzz worthy, what has happened?
Well I think it was a mix of personal fatigue and Dallas’ fatigue overall as a team. Since exploding onto the scene early in 2011, Brek Shea has been pulled every which way. Whether it was MLS, Open Cup and CONCACAF Champions League play, or national team callups, Shea just played too many games and it caught up to him towards the end of the season.
The other side of things was that Dallas became an extremely one-dimensional attacking team late last year and team’s used the strategy of shut down Brek Shea and force someone else to beat you. And it worked. In 2012, Brek has finally started to round back into form in the last three games. He was very good in the last 15 minutes against New England and then went on to score the dramatic 88th minute game winner against Montreal a week ago. Brek, and FCD as a whole, struggled in the attack at Vancouver on Saturday, struggling to cope with the turf field, but there’s no doubt that the warning signs are there for Shea to have another breakout stretch of games
2. Talk about some of the new comers to FC Dallas, like Hernan Pertuz who has become a regular part of the defense and Blas Perez who seems to be one of the bright spots early for FC Dallas?
Without a doubt, the FC Dallas MVP and perhaps the best forward we’ve seen here since Carlos Ruiz’s hayday in 2006 has been the Panamanian forward Blas Perez. Of the eight goals Dallas has scored this season, Blas has 3 goals, 3 assists and drew the fouls that the two other goals game from. He’s a huge forward who works tirelessly hassling the backline the entire game and if they make one mistake, he will pounce on it. He loves to drop deep into the midfield to get involved in the linkup play, and while he’s not a guy who will create his own goal, he’s about as good as there is in MLS at finishing half chances in the box. The RSL backline will certainly have their hands full in trying to stop the player known as Might Mouse.
Among the other signings are Hernan PErtuz, a Colombian defender who started every game up until this last weekend when he was sidelined with a minor injury. His passing skills out of the back are impeccable and having just turned 23 years old, could be the next FCD starting center back if George John decides to move to Europe after this season. Another signing to watch is Panamanian outside back Carlos Rodriguez. He will likely start at left back on Wednesday and gets forward well, another in a long line of attacking outside backs that Schellas Hyndman loves.
3. RSL has never won a match in Texas, and actually only escaped with one point from all their trips to Dallas, is this part of the curse of Jason Kreis? Or is there some non-mythical reason for FC Dallas' ability to dominate at home?
I think there is something to the fact that Jason Kreis has made some uncharacteristic coaching decisions in the past in Dallas and there has been a monkey on his back trying to get a win in the city where he made his name. Just see his comments from last year’s draw, he seemed thrilled. http://www.goal.com/en-us/news/1110/major-league-soccer/2011/05/22/2499322/real-salt-lake-head-coach-jason-kreis-pleased-with-draw
The most amazing thing is that I think there was a stretch of like 5 games in a row that RSL played in Dallas ending with a 2-1 score to FCD. Just one of those weird stats. What’s also amazing is Dallas has beaten RSL in Frisco in the playoffs and Open Cup as well. It really has been an amazing run and I’m not really sure if there’s some sort of monkey on the back causing it or a statistical anomaly.
Bonus Question: If you could pick one player from the RSL roster to add to FC Dallas who would it be and why
Boy that’s a tough one. I can’t say Kyle Beckerman after how many times he has criticized the Dallas fans after games here and his history with the Colorado Rapids here as well. It would be between a healthy Will Johnson and Jamison Olave. I’ll have to pick Olave. While Dallas has a good defensive group already, that guy is just in another class and has been the best defender in the league for the last 3 seasons. I’ve always been astounded by how fast he is for his size. In another life, he’d be an all-pro linebacker in the NFL.