oday, Eugene joins us from the Philadephia Union SB Nation blog, "Brotherly Game."
BDS-1. Who is going to be replacing John Hackworth as Head Coach of the Union? Has the Front Office stated a desire if a particular type of coach or set of skills that they will be hunting? Who do you think this team needs?
BG1.) There have been many rumors regarding who the next manager will be. Jim Curtin is being given a rather long leash as an interim manager, and the club hired John Hackworth after a relatively successful run as a caretaker. But there has been rumors of Fabio Cannavaro coming as well as Rene Meulensteen being seen last week with Nick Sakiewicz at Gilette Stadium. My feeling is that Curtin will finish the season and then the Union will name a permanent manager during the offseason. I have a feeling that unless Curtin makes a run deep into the playoffs, it will be someone from outside the organization.
BDS-2. Philadelphia has scored the most goals in the Eastern Conference but currently sit back at 7th place with only 19 points. The offense is putting in the work, so what is wrong on the other end of the field to allow more goals (28) than anyone except Houston?
BG2.) The defense has been in a constant state of flux with players being injured. Factor that in with the lack of a veteran center back for the first time in the club's history and John Hackworth's zeal to convert players to defenders, and you have the recipe for a very porous back line. Austin Berry has been hurt on and off. Amobi Okugo has done well, but he's a converted defensive midfielder. Sheanon Williams hasn't been playing as well as he has over the past few seasons. Aaron Wheeler was a disaster at center back and is now back to being used as a forward. Fabinho has been serviceable. Ray Gaddis has been the only real standout, playing both right and left back well all season long. I think if the club can bring Carlos Valdes back after the World Cup that it would go a long way in not only stabilizing the defense but also adding that veteran leadership in back that is lacking as well.
BDS-3. Who is a player that FCD fans may not be familiar with who can cause real trouble on the field this July 4th?
BG3.) Vincent Nogueira has been one of the best players in MLS this season, and no one seems to know it because of how bad the Union have been. He is a player that can often create something from absolutely nothing, and his vision in the attacking third rivals that of most anyone else in MLS. The fact that the club was able to get him from Sochaux for less than DP money has to go down as one of the greatest heists of all time. Watch for his incisive runs and pinpoint passing.
Lineup: MacMath; Fabinho, Williams, Edu, Gaddis; Okugo, Maidana, Nogueira, Cruz; Le Toux, Casey
Prediction: The Union have won 3 straight under Jimmy Curtin, beating a tough New England squad in Foxboro. I think this is a team that has always had the players to do well and is finally starting to get some confidence back. There'll be plenty of fireworks, and the Union will come out on top 3-1.
BigDSoccer's Answers coming up next....
BG1.) FC Dallas is known for their academy's ability to produce MLS-level talent. To what do you attribute that, and how has that helped the club in terms of on-field results?
BDS-1) North Texas has long been a hotbed for youth soccer talent. There are several club teams that have been very successful at the youth level for more than a generation. The annual Dr Pepper Dallas Cup has hosted stars from all over the world for over 30 years. Players like Rooney, Bradley, Chicharito, Marquez, Beckham, Donovan, Defoe, McBride have all participated and gone on to very successful careers domestic and abroad.
By the time that FC Dallas established a youth academy, the talent was already there, waiting to be plucked - waiting to be given a route into professional soccer. Oscar Pareja has actually been a huge influence in the academy. He was the director for many years after retiring from playing and before becoming a first team coach. This has eased the transition for many of Dallas' homegrown players now that OP has been granted the helm of FCD. Players like Victor Ulloa, Kellyn Acosta, Danny Garcia, and many others played under him at the youth levels. They are getting chances now because the trust is there on both sides, coaching and playing. Lucky for us, the players are living up to expectations.
BG2.) Dallas was very busy during the transfer market, parting ways with Jackson and Kenny Cooper while acquiring DP's David Texeira and Andrés Escobar among others. How have these moves impacted the club?
BDS-2) These moves were about retooling the club with some different options. FCD had a pretty set system for a few years, and the time had come this past offseason to try something different. Escobar and Fabian Castillo know each other from the Colombian U-20 national team and Deportivo Cali club team. They are good friends who played together for years, so the thought was that they could collaborate to terrorize MLS defenses pretty quickly. This idea has been lagging due to Escobar's early season back injury, but the two young Colombians have combined well in recent matches. David Texeira was brought in to boost our striker stable also. He had success in the Dutch Eredivisie before coming stateside. Tex also has battled some injury this season, but he has shown well when he played in 2014.
FC Dallas got to MLS Cup in 2010 on the back of a strong defense. For several years, the team has not been scoring enough, so the roster was adjusted to try to fill that gaping hole. Perez can't do it all himself, and there were a few people occupying key forward spots and couldn't produce.
BG3.) Since the Union doesn't play Dallas very often, can you give our readers a sense of what to expect from FCD? (Tactically, mentality, from fans, etc.)
BDS-3) Despite a few injuries, you will see a fit team. Expect a lot of running, and expect FCD to be comfortable in the heat. Set piece performance and flank play is important for Dallas' offense. There will always be at least one if not two defensive midfielders working to clog passing lanes and win the ball back before the defensive third.
Unfortunately discipline has been an issue this year. I'm not sure what OP is doing to stomp it out, but FCD is riding a record wave of 8 red cards halfway through the league campaign (the previous record was 7 red cards for a full season). I'm never surprised by a red card anymore.
Fan support for FCD has been growing steadily since 2010 which is great for a team that was ridiculed for poor attendance in the earlier days of MLS. The SGs are better organized and have been stepping up their game since the Union last visited. July 4th will a packed house. The holiday game has become a tradition for the club, making it a huge draw in North Texas including a gigantic fireworks show at the end for those in attendance. Hopefully there are fireworks on the field as well!
Seitz, Benitez, Hedges, Keel, Loyd, Moffat, Ulloa, Watson, Michel, Perez, Escobar
Mauro Diaz and Hendry Thomas will be back on the bench from longterm injuries, but they will play very limited minutes if at all this week.
2-0 Dallas. The team needs to bounce back from a rough string of results and will look to take advantage of a vulnerable Union defense.