Saturday marks the second meeting with the Sounders in 2015, the first trip to Seattle. Dave Clark at Sounder at Heart took some time to answer our questions about the team.
Big D Soccer 1. Seattle's last meeting with Dallas ended in zero shots on game for either team. Seattle has the firepower even with international absences. Who will the pressure be on this weekend?
SaH: With Clint Dempsey at full health and Obafemi Martins capable of starting the attack should be back its standard effectiveness. Lamar Neagle has been coming on a bit lately, creating opportunities and while he only has two goals he is creating and taking shots just like he did with his nine/nine 2014 season. With these three the Sounders have enough offense to net at least a goal, and since the defense is the best it's ever been one goal should be enough.
BDS2. Have you heard anything new about Ozzie Alonso's international prospects? Do you think Cuba is anymore inclined to cooperate with him now that relations are improving?
SaH: I think that ship has sailed. As Ozzie continues to age there has been no recent indication that Cuba wants to help the United States get better at soccer. He'd be quite handy with the USMNT, particularly as Jurgen looks to get Bradley forward as a creator. Still, there must be leftover animosity from the Cuban soccer authorities. He used playing for the National Team as a route away. However you feel about that, he made a choice. I think what is more likely with the softening of relations between our nation and Cuba is that Alonso gets the chance to represent a changed Cuba. He would likely enjoy that as much as he does his US citizenship.
BDS3. FC Dallas fans are envious of any other clubs that's actually pulled the trigger on a USL club. How has Seattle II helped the MLS team so far? Have any surprises come out of the arrangement?
SaH: It got a bit of time for Cristian Roldan who is now already a regular with the first team. But it's a long-term effort. The real payoff is going to be when players like Victor Mansaray can use his time with S2 to develop into a more complete player capable of using his immense talents to make an impact while in the 18. Hendrickson is often playing Vic in places where he must use technique more than just physical talents. This slightly diminishes S2's chances of victory, but helps shape a player who can contribute at the YNT level already and has a possible future beyond MLS.
Absences: Barrett is out with a hamstring issue. Pappa is at World Cup Qualifying with Guatemala. Martins is still recovering from a surgery to fix his nose after Clint Irwin broke it and so isn't 90 minutes fit. Alonso is probably out too. Brad Evans could miss time depending on how he recovers from beating Germany.
Predicted lineup: Frei; Remick, Marshall, Evans, Mears; Neagle, Azira, Pineda, Roldan; Dempsey, Martins
*** Next we present our answers to their questions. Head on over to Sounder at Heart if you want to join their discussion. ***
Sounder at Heart 1 - Hey! Did your lineup get hit with callups? Ours certainly did.
BDS: Oh yes. Oh yes. FC Dallas will be out 4 players during this next international window, from a roster of 26 players. The out-of-towners are:
Kellyn Acosta, U20 United States
Atiba Harris, St Kitts and Nevis
Moises Hernandez, Guatemala
Tesho Akindele, Canada
Je-Vaughn Watson is about to leave for Jamaica duty, however he won't leave until Monday so that he can serve his red card suspension against the Sounders. Jesse Gonzalez just returned from U20 Mexico duty, although the young goalkeeper is unlikely to impact the game-day roster since Seitz and Kennedy are both healthy. Each of these call-ups will hurt. Acosta had established himself in the midfield during the late part of FCD's successful run before this disastrous 5-game road trip started. Hernandez has played almost 1,000 minutes this season at fullback and is a default starter for the club. Harris has been a capable fill-in at right back and leaves FCD without valuable depth. I hope that time with the Canadian side can boost Tesho's confidence. Right now, the sophomore striker has 3 goals in almost 900 minutes. He could use a hot streak anytime now to add some consistency to his breakout rookie season.
SaH2 - WhoScored lists Dallas with two traits that when combined seem to make the side open to successful high pressure. What's going on with "Playing in their own half" and the weakness "Keeping possession of the ball?"
BDS: When you build a team on a budget, you get players who are strong at some things but weak in other areas. i.e. Michel. This is a guy with diverse experience and a left foot that can put the ball on a dime at impressive yardage. Unfortunately, he is oft criticized for generating too many turnovers in midfield. He isn't the only player with an unbalanced skill set. Michel is an easy example, but I hate to call him out when he hasn't done anything specific lately to justify fan ire.
Oscar Pareja has only been at the helm in North Texas for 17ish months - still in diapers if his tenure was a child. A clear picture of what the team can and can't do is step one of building a roster. This team is young, fast, and dangerous on a counter-attack. They also have the weaknesses mentioned above. Step two will be to fine tune the team's skill set. The front office can now search for players who compliment those who are here for the long haul, who contribute to the overall vision.
Victor Ulloa is someone who tends to be successful controlling the midfield, whether defending or advancing forward. I expect we will see the players around him learn possession skills and become more comfortable in their half, or they will be replaced in the long run, as Pareja continues to build his team.
SaH3 - What's going on with the keeper battle?
BDS: It is pretty quiet right now. Dan Kennedy has been on top for the last several games. FC Dallas doesn't double up on midweek games until October, but the US Open Cup should put pressure on the keeper. It will interesting to see if Pareja maintains consistency or opts to give the other guy a cup run. Chris Seitz did well early in the season, so I believe he could catch another break if Kennedy drops too many more goals. However, I think Dan is getting the benefit of the doubt on this 5 game away march. The Houston game June 26th will be the first real danger for Dan if he can't keep a reasonably clean sheet.
Significant absences: See question 1 above.
Projected Lineup: Kennedy, Michel, Hedges, Loyd, Hollingshead, Bekker, Ulloa, Castillo, Diaz, Barrios, Perez