This week we are joined by John Rosch from Burgundy Wave, the Colorado Rapids site. FC Dallas faced the Rapids just 2 weeks ago, and I can't quite remember what happened. That whole evening is kind of black in my mind. The Toronto match last week was good. Let's see what Johnny has to say about FCD's first visit to the Rocky Mountain state:
Big D Soccer Brian 1. After struggling for so long, why was Colorado finally able to break through with goals and a win over Dallas just 2 weeks ago?
Burgundy Wave Johnny: Honestly, I think a lot of it had to do with the time was coming and FC Dallas just happened to be the team to get it. They had been playing decent football, and were creating chances--but for whatever reason they just could not get it into the net. I know that there were some that were making a big deal about it because it was Dallas and it was Oscar Pareja, but that really wasn't a factor. It was just time for them to finally score goals and to win.
BDSb 2. Is Pablo Mastroeni the right coach for the Rapids? Do you think he can lead this group to some success this year?
BWJ: That is the proverbial elephant in the room right now. For some supporters, Pablo should be fired now and for others they want to give him more time. Is Pablo the right coach? I still think the jury is out on it. He still struggles with tactical decisions and some of his post game quotes rub supporters the wrong way, but there is no doubt that he wants to be here in Colorado and see the club succeed. Now will they have some success this year: yes. But they will struggle to make the playoffs, which has as much to do with his growth as a coach and the brutal Western Conference.
BDSb 3. How is the relationship with USL affiliate Charlotte Independence going so far, and why wasn't an affiliate formed with the Switchbacks in Colorado Springs?
BWJ: So far the relationship is going strong. The Rapids have sent four players on loan with Charlotte (John Berner, Caleb Calvert, Charles Eloundou, and Marlon Hairston) and so far they have all gotten playing time with the Independence. In fact, Eloundou was recalled this week from Charlotte to rejoin the first team here in Denver. Additionally, the Rapids signed defender Ben Newnam from the Independence to a contract and has been in the 18 several times this year.
As for why Charlotte over Colorado Springs--it is a question that has been asked by more than a few people. The "Springs" are about 70 minutes south of Denver so the logistics would have made great sense, but the Rapids were really looking forward to a relationship that would help develop Rapids players but also help the growth of their USL affiliate and with the Independence they were able to get that.
Formation Prediction (4-2-3-1)--Irwin, Harrington, Moor, Burling, Riley, Pittinari, LaBrocca, Ramirez, Powers, Sanchez, Torres
Predicted Score--I think this is very close, but the Rapids are due for a win at home. Rapids 2:1 FC Dallas
There's some great insight there. Much better than that Fake Brian who wasn't even from Colorado 2 weeks ago. Ha!
Onward to the flipside!
BWJ 1) So that Fabian Castillo. He is pretty good. What makes him so special?
BDS Brian: Fabian's physical assets include his speed, dribbling, and finishing. His finishing, especially, has improved since Oscar Pareja rejoined FC Dallas. Fabian and Oscar have common ground since both came from Colombia to the United States to play for Dallas in MLS. Pareja has been a valuable mentor to Fabian, and I think he has been key to fine tuning Fabian's skill set.
Castillo joined FC Dallas as a young DP in March 2011. We've seen Castillo struggle with consistency. There have been so many lost chances where he dribbles and dances through countless defenders only to lose the ball in the final third. His awareness is improving. Lately, we've seen more instances of him shooting or crossing the ball where he may have lost it back in 2012 or 2013. And he is still only 22 years old. As Fabian continues to gain experience and develop his mental game, we have a very strong player developing for FC Dallas, who is contracted until 2019.
BWJ 2) Dallas looks to have rebounded from a slight dip in form with a victory over Toronto this past weekend. What worked last weekend that was missing the previous 3 weeks?
BDSb: We learned that Zimmerman is still very much a work in progress. Zach Loyd and Matt Hedges are an exponentially stronger centerback pairing. Chris Seitz has been a little shaky the past couple of games as well. There have been defensive lapses and also a slow transition to get some of the depth players into rotation. Je-Vaughn Watson is still a bit rusty from missing preseason, and new players like Kyle Bekker and Michael Barrios haven't quite jelled.
The 4-0 blowout to the Rapids was a wake up call. In the past couple of seasons with FCD early hot streaks, there has been a game to temper expectations. Last year, we lost to Chivas USA - the year before I believe we lost to DC United. This year, however, there was a 4-0 home blowout to a team that hadn't won in months. I think this was the best possible loss; if you're going to lose, lose big. So the entire week after, the team was focused on regaining their form. This week in Colorado will be no different. The team isn't for vengeance but redemption.
BWJ 3) What do you feel the ceiling is for this team? They have a good record, but just one win against a (current) playoff team. Where do you think they end up?
BDSb: This team will make the playoffs. I think they fall into 3rd or 4th place in the West. FC Dallas has the desire and ability to make a deep cup run in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup tournament. It will be a real struggle through the summer and fall losing a number of players to their international teams during the Gold Cup and Olympic Qualifying. FCD's technical director, Fernando Clavijo has some work to do shoring up the midfield and defense with some player acquisitions. We heard that Clavijo was in England last weekend for a scouting trip. That's not FCD's typical bag for foreign players, but I can see how strong enforcer types may come cheap from the British Isles.
As for the MLS Cup Playoffs themselves, FC Dallas will be looking to build on last year which saw the team eliminated on away goals to Seattle in the quarterfinals. The core group of players is still intact and will be hunting for vindication that they can stay undefeated through the playoffs for another year.
Seitz, Harris, Loyd, Hedges, Hernandez, Ulloa, Michel, Castillo, Hollingshead, Akindele, Perez
How do you think FC Dallas will do tonight in Commerce City? Can the Texans build on a mostly solid win last week, or do you see them serving up another loss to Colorado in April?