Hello and welcome to another addition of 3 Questions in which we interview the opposing team's SB Nation blog ... except not. I know the glamorous life of an online blogger appears to be all bottle service and VIP access from the outside, but in reality, we are all freelance volunteers doing this on the side. Family, work, and life outside of soccer sometimes take precedence, so the interview can't be completed. All that being said, today we're doing something a little ... different.
Welcome to Talkin' To Myself in which I interview me about the opposing team for this week's match. At 6:00 PM today, FC Dallas welcomes the Colorado Rapids to Frisco, so I've sought out answers to the tough questions from Colorado Brian (I went to Winter Park to snowboard one time in High School, so I'm totally qualified to do this).
Texas Brian (1) Why can't the Rapids score a goal?
Colorado Brian (1) Wow. No holding back huh. No, "hello, how's your day going?" Hardballs straight away. Colorado has the talent. Last season, the Rapids scored 43 goals despite not qualifying for the MLS Cup playoffs (Vancouver grabbed the last playoff spot and scored 42 goals). If you saw the game against the Revolution last weekend, the Rapids put shots on frame. If it didn't hurt so much, I would have laughed to see so many shots hit the crossbar. The Rapids out-shot the Revs 17-9. Vicente Sanchez and Dillon Powers were 2 of the top 3 goal scorers last season and are back this year; although Deshorn Brown, the top scorer of '14, was transferred to Norway a few weeks ago.
So if it's not the players it must be the coach. jpatrickrosch wrote on Burgundy Wave this week that he is frustrated with Pablo's inability in be flexible. A voice many Dallas fans are familiar with echoed that sentiment during the game. Dave Dir tweeted that the Rapids needed to do something, anything to adjust. What the Rapids have been doing in 2015 hasn't been working. Hopefully Pablo takes a risk and tries something new against FC Dallas on Friday. Maybe an extra attacker, maybe move some guys around in the formation.
TXb (2) The results are disappointing, but can Pablo Mastroeni turn this around? Do you think the Front Office should continue to give him time, ala Ben Olsen in DC, or do the Rapids need someone else to save this ship?
COB (2) I think Pablo should be given time. He only retired at the end of 2013 and had limited time as an assistant coach before taking the head coaching gig after Oscar Pareja left for Texas. His situation may have many parallels to Ben Olsen's in Washington. I am concerned that his learning curve though is going to mean another year of the Rapids missing the playoffs. He will need to show that he is adapting and improving with his performance over the course of this year, improving with this team. He has the players to be successful. He needs to show that he can use them.
TXb (3) Looking at the player transactions page, Colorado has done a lot of shuffling of the roster. Who are the top 2 players you are most excited about, veteran or newcomer?
COB (3) This question is a little more difficult as I am only pretend from Colorado. But I would be lying if I didn't say that Dominique Badji has my interest. He has shown some flashes of something special from what I've seen so far. This is his first year in MLS, so I think he will need more time to adjust to the pace and nuances compared to the college game. He should be gelling well with Sanchez and Torres though, eventually being a great asset in the striker pool. I also want to see what the Argentinian midfielder Juan Ramirez can do over time. He should be able to stretch out the wings for the Rapids, seeding the attack deeper in midfield. The advantage of having some young forwards is that they can run. Having a player like Ramirez on the left should open some channels. We'll see how both of these guys do against Dallas, where there will be similar youth and speed coming back at them.
Alright, well that's all for this edition of 3 Questions. Thanks to Brian for pretending to be from Colorado, and thanks to Brian for some amazing questions. What a great blogger that guy is. So bye-bye, we will see you nex...
COB: Hey, you're not off the hook, buddy.
COB: You always post both sides of the Q&A.
TXb: Yeah ...
COB: So now you get to answer MY questions.
Colorado Brian (1) Why are FC Dallas' offensive engines so fragile? i.e. David Ferreira, Mauro Diaz.
TXb: Um ... David Ferreira was obliterated in a reckless tackle, but I think I see where you are going with this. MLS is still a league that is growing. Look back at the start of the English Leagues or even American Football, and the beginnings of the game were way more brutal than today. It takes time to grow a product that is refined and technically articulate, even if you are importing some talent. There is a limited number of maestros in the league, and defenses do what they can to limit their game. It's not a pretty part of soccer, but when those players step on the field, they do whatever they can to win. Some can neutralize a threat by keeping possession, others hack at ankles. Say whatever you want about how those players approach the game, but no fans are happy to take the moral high ground of playing pretty soccer if you are getting beat 3-0 every game by guys like Diaz, Higuain, Zusi, and Morales. It's part of the maturation process of MLS as a league. As salaries and the cap increase so will the level of talent, offensive and defensive. It's definitely frustrating. The referees are responsible for protecting player safety.
If you want to talk about Diaz, that's slightly different. FC Dallas had, like, 200 guys go down with hamstring injuries last year. Something wasn't working in the fitness department. Lucky for fans, FCD addressed the problem over the offseason by bringing in new fitness coach Fabian Bazan. Early reports indicate that what he is doing is working. Diaz isn't hurt right now, per se, at least according to Pareja. Diaz has been running through some parallel training to help ensure he stay healthy for the whole season. Oscar said that he had planned to play Diaz for a few games early then give him some rest. Only time will tell if he can stay that spark for FC Dallas throughout 2015.
COB (2) FC Dallas suffered their first loss last weekend, is the early season hot streak already over?
TXb (2) No way. In 2013, Chivas USA interrupted FCD's hot streak with a loss, but Dallas went on to go undefeated for 9 games after that. Last season, FCD received their first loss around this same time, April 12th, but went on to bounce back late in the season from a dry spell in the middle. Unfortunately for you, the Rapids are an ideal candidate for FCD to bounce some goals off of and reaffirm their early season confidence.
With Pareja utilizing every player on his roster, this team has never been so deep. I expect FC Dallas to power through. No team will be perfect, it's the nature of parity in MLS. And I think the USL partnership with Arizona United will set up rookies with some valuable experience to be ready by the time the playoffs come calling. Dom Dwyer is a great example from a few years ago. He spent most of the season on loan in Orlando (then in USL) and was recalled after winning the USL Championship and went on to help Sporting win the MLS Cup.
COB (3) Who are you most interested to see that hasn't seen many minutes on the field yet?
TXb (3) No question, Je-Vaughn Watson. The Jamaican international had a tenuous start with FC Dallas but has literally worked his way to become a fan favorite. I don't know if it was a hard adjustment coming from Houston to Dallas, but his early goings with FCD were rough. There were fans who thought he would fall into the category of guys like Marcelin and Hall. It started to turn, though, when Watson blasted a goal past the Dynamo. It's hard for any Dallas sports fan to be mad at someone who makes Houston suffer. And Watson has worked his tail off to be a consistent starter on this team. He has a good attitude and has been doing whatever Pareja asks of him, including a move to right back.
Fast forward to 2015, and fans are clamoring for Watson to come back. Contract negotiations kept him out of preseason. Part of that uncertainty due to the CBA negotiations. I think he had options to play elsewhere if there was a work stoppage in MLS. We saw a flash of Watson last weekend. He spoke to media earlier this week saying that he is ready for Colorado. FC Dallas needs him because Atiba Harris has been tentative at right back. Watson brings more experience and familiarity to FCD after taking on that position fully last season and making it his own.
Who thought it would be so exhausting going back and forth with yourself. Especially with both sides not pulling any punches.
Did either Brian say anything that you love or hate? Tell us in the comments below!