I traded 3 questions with Ryan Gates of Stumptown Footy as we begin to look towards Sunday evening's national TV game vs the Timbers.
1) What kind of heat has Gavin Wilkinson taken for the recent results? I had an FCD player tell me after the LA game that "We would be naïve to think every game was going to be as easy as Portland."
There are two schools of thought floating around about Gavin, which are "Gavin is terrible and should be fired immediately!" and "We need to wait and see if Gavin was the reason for the roster or was it mainly John Spencer.". Either one you subscribe to lays a blame at the feet of Gavin it just depends on how much you believe John Spencer influenced the roster decisions. The last FC Dallas game was probably the worst game Portland has played ever and players quit and gave up and up here in Portland we are trying hard to forget about that game.
2) How has Eric Alexander been getting on lately with Portland? It seems like awhile since he was traded from Dallas, but he was always a fan favorite here that people were sad to see go
Eric has had a little bit of a rough time in Portland because management have decided he is better on the wing and not in the center of the pitch. When he plays on the wing he is one of the better defenders but he likes to drift into the middle of the field. A lot of the fans really like his game but see he is not being placed in a position to play to his strengths.
3) How has Kris Boyd been doing recently? I think we were all pretty surprised to see his name left out of the starting lineup in Frisco
Kris Boyd had a rough last game but when he gets good service he is deadly. With a line-up change last game and a little bit of an attitude adjustment the service has improved and Portland hopes to see more goals from Boyd. Both of the Scots who usually start, Steven Smith and Boyd, were left out of the line-up in Frisco. This is most likely due to the fact that neither of them have ever played in weather conditions like Frisco, especially considering the record high in Glasgow, Scotland is 88 degrees.
Bonus: Tell us about a Portland player who may not be a household name but could have a big impact on Sunday
Judging by last game Brent Richards will be that player as he earned his first start last Saturday. The biggest surprise in earning his first start is how much of a role he had in the offense and how often the other players looked for him. When you watch the game and if Richards gets another start watch for his leaping ability and the control he has with his head because when he leaps it looks like he has jumped off a trampoline.
And now my answers of his questions....
1) FC Dallas and Portland have had their fair share of 2012 woes is there a specific reason for Dallas' struggles this year? Or is it just one of those seasons?
For the second part of the question, yes and no. Dallas was just unbelievably decimated by injuries through the first half of the season. For a large part of the year Dallas was missing both starting centerbacks, David Ferreira, Blas Perez(starting forward), Brek Shea and a few other depth guys. It was something that was almost impossible to recover from, losing your three best offensive players.
When you couple that with the terrible season that Shea has had, some very unlucky games(8 of 11 losses by 1 goal) and some questionable roster moves(FCD is still without a decent backup forward as they struggle to score goals) it’s just been a perfect storm of struggles. The return of David Ferreira has done a bunch to improve that, but the reality is it’s probably too late.
2) How has Brek Shea handled himself after getting into it a little with Hyndman and will we see Brek this Saturday?
All the reports are good. I think people have kind of misinterpreted the situation to think it is a manager disciplining a player situation, which is really not the case. Brek has been struggling all year and being a fairly immature player he didn’t really express his frustrations at his struggles in the right way. So what FCD basically did was shut him down for a week and let him clear his head. He was training with the starters on Wednesday, so I think a trip to Portland could certainly be on the cards, though we will not know whether he made the trip until tomorrow.
3) With the return of John and others coming back from injury have we not seen the best FC Dallas has to offer this year?
Certainly not and that’s probably the most frustrating thing. With all the injuries, we may never know how good FC Dallas could have been in 2012. When you look at an ideal starting lineup of Hartman-Loyd-John-Ihemelu-Benitez-de Guzman-Jacobson-Shea-Castillo-Ferreira-Perez….that’s a pretty damn good starting XI. But Shea, Ferreira and Perez have not been on the field together once this year. With 11 games left, Dallas probably needs to win 8, though with their next two opponents, Portland and Colorado, 0-10-0 in their last ten, there might still be time to make a late run.
Bonus: Tell us an FC Dallas player that may not be a household name but could have a big impact on Sunday
Fabian Castillo is kind of a feast or famine offensive player. When he’s on, he’s electrifying with speed that no defender in MLS can match and a fantastic ability to beat guys off the dribble. However, if things aren’t working out for him he can be a guy who doesn’t track back on defense and turns the ball over repeatedly killing the offense. Whether you get Jekyll or Hyde Castillo on Sunday could go a long way to determining the result.