Our second rematch of 2014, here are my questions to the always gracious Alicia writing for The Goat Parade out west:
BDS-1) Losing el Bofo and now potentially losing Cubo Torres before the season is over, how is Chivas USA mitigating these roster moves?
TGP: Well, despite the slight bump in attention and enthusiasm from some corners concerning Bofo's signing, he was never really in the mix on this team and his departure isn't particularly surprising. Though he showed he was still capable of making some outstanding passes, he had no mobility, and that's just not a recipe for success in today's MLS.
On the other hand, Torres' future is still in the air, and he's the key player for this team. He's scored in eight of 10 matches so far this season, and has notched two-thirds of the team's goals, so without him, it appears Chivas USA will really struggle to score. I think the top priority for the team is to try and make sure he stays on the team past June, and they've indicated publicly they are going to try and do that. Beyond that, they are still looking for options to help in the scoring load. I think picking up Martin Rivero was a terrific move, as he's shown he can be a very good player when healthy, and getting Marvin Chavez for a cameo last week in the win over the Rapids was great for later on this season. But this team still lacks another credible scoring option up top. Although they may not have a big budget with which to bring a player in, I think it's quite likely the front office will continue to make changes to the roster to address needs.
BDS-2) Is Wilmer Cabrera a long term solution or simply a stop-gap until a new ownership group takes control? I) recall how previous coaches were often hamstrung under Vergara. Is Cabrera able to make this team fully his?
TGP: Those are great questions, and I'm not sure at this point I'm able to say one way or the other what Cabrera's fate is beyond this season. Like the players, in many respects he's on a one-year tryout for the next regime, though that's a pretty depressing way to look at the current season, and I don't think he's thinking of 2014 in those terms.
As for the second question, I think Cabrera is definitely putting his own fingerprints on the team, which isn't hard when there are just 11 players still around from the end of last season. He's brought in three young players, Eriq Zavaleta, Ryan Finley, and Matt Dunn, who played for him when he was U.S. U-17 head coach. That said, this team is still pretty limited in their spending capabilities, as they aren't going to commit big money with the new owners not in place. I mean, all MLS coaches have limits on the kinds of rosters they can build, to some extent. Cabrera's still working with some stringent parameters, but it looks like they aren't as arbitrary as they used to be with Jorge Vergara.
BDS-3) Marvin Chavez was a valuable player for FCD and is off to a fantastic start with Chivas since his arrival last week. Veterans like Chavez, , Bocanegra, Mauro Rosales, and Dan Kennedy can provide vital mentorship to the fertile Southern California youth coming through the club. Which rookie/homegrown players should we be watching at Chivas?
TGP: Chivas actually have a lot of young players, and it's a question of which ones are going to emerge as decent talents. Although Thomas McNamara has gone out with a torn ACL, which was a blow as he had started his pro career off pretty well, third-year Homegrown midfielder Marky Delgado is starting to come into his own, and is getting more minutes recently. Among the other youngsters, there's rookie Kris Tyrpak, a native of Texas, who's racked up an assist so far this season; Dunn and Zavaleta, who probably won't feature in this match although you never know; defender Donny Toia, and Homegrown striker Caleb Calvert, who's 17 and hasn't yet made his MLS debut, though it could come at any point.
Most of the players on the roster have gotten minutes (just four haven't played in a competitive game yet). With the new group, plus the many injuries and suspensions so far this season, young players are getting plenty of run on this Chivas USA team.
TGP: Predicted roster and outcome.
I think this will be scrappy, probably not very pretty to watch, and will end 1-1.
And now for my answers to Alicia's questions about FC Dallas!
BDS: Oscar Pareja is calling up the boys on the depth chart, and they seem to be doing relatively well. Victor Ulloa has gotten the run out in defensive mid 3 times now and is making a case for a permanent position. Our defensive mid pairing seems to be different almost every week between injuries and suspensions, so we haven't had a set in stone 1-2 players who have really clicked together. Ulloa seems to be getting along with each of his partners, however. On the other side of midfield with Diaz gone, Danny Garcia, another homegrown player from North Texas is getting the start. Danny needs more minutes to really get his feet under him, but you can see his confidence building. My main concern with Danny thus far is the number of lateral and back passes he makes. If he is to really be successful in Super Mauro's absence, we need to start seeing Danny push up the field and spark some attacks.
TGP-2) It seems like Blas Perez either runs really hot or really cold. How's the veteran striker doing at the moment?
BDS: He's cold. I think the penalty kick against Luis Robles was meant to prime his engine a bit, but he couldn't get it past the NYRB keeper. I think hot or cold is an accurate description of Perez's scoring; however, the guy never rests. His tireless work off the ball and trying to set up his teammates makes him an extremely valued veteran despite a dry spell. Be on the watch for Blas as he tries to get back into a groove. Neither FC Dallas or Chivas USA have a clean sheet in 2014, and Blas will know that going in to this weekend.
TGP-3) It's Pareja vs. Cabrera, part II. Do you think Dallas will go after Chivas in the same manner that was so successful last time, or will there be some wrinkles in the game plan?
BDS: The foundation of tactics will likely be the same, but sure there will be adjustments because the starting XI will be vastly different from 2 months ago. Since our last meeting: Acosta is injured; Thomas is injured; Diaz is injured. Keel, Benitez, and Watson have all missed games for various reasons.
BDS: Prediction for this match?
Dallas desperately needs a win. Expect them to fight hard against a Chivas team that they expect to be vulnerable on the road. I think the Reds pull it out... 1-0.
Roster (Who really knows; 21 different players have started so far in 2014 compared to 23 different players all of last season). My best guess -
Fernandez, Loyd, Hedges, Zimmerman, Hernandez, Moffat, Ulloa, Castillo, Garcia, Watson, Perez
That's all for this week. Do you think FC Dallas can beat the Goats again? Will it be enough to restore some confidence?