As the season progresses into the second half of the year for FC Dallas, we have plenty of thought about a few things that need to be addressed. The second half of the schedule is only going to get more crazy for FCD, but we hope these things can be addressed by the end of it all.
1. Can Oscar Pareja find a way to get Fabian Castillo going here?
On the surface, three goals and three assists for Fabian Castillo isn't bad. Especially when he does stuff like this:
But the fact of the matter is, Castillo really hasn't gotten off to the blazing start we all expected him to after he scored in the season opener against Philadelphia. Part of that may have been due to the injury he picked up in that season opener, the other could have just been him being inside his own head.
Either way, head coach Oscar Pareja has to find a way to get Castillo the ball more on the wings in the second half of the season. Either that means finding a way to spread the ball wide more (which I vote a big yes towards) or if need be, work him inside in the top part of the attack when guys like Maxi Urruti or Tesho Akindele aren't on the field.
I'm a firm believer in that the more touches Castillo gets in a game, the better off this team can be in the attack.
2. Will the defense ever really figure things out on the road?
Out of the road games we've seen this season, half of them have gone really well with wins in Portland, New England and DC, along with a shutout draw in San Jose. The flip side of that are the four losses on the road, with three of those four being absolute blowouts that we all want to forget as much as we possibly can.
I do think that the last three road games (1-0 loss in Toronto, 4-2 win in NE and the 0-0 draw in San Jose) are a blueprint of how FCD can handle their remaining road games in league play. When this group plays more compact and doesn't allow a lot down the spine of the defense, things tend to work out for them in the end.
Maybe the better question here would be whether or not this group can figure out how to defense a set piece properly. Something I think they can if we end up seeing more of Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman on the field together.
3. Will the Maximiliano Urruti of the first two months show back up?
This one continues to be a big debate among a lot of us here. The Urruti that started the season with three goals in four games is a lot different now. Part of it is getting used to a new team and formation. Part of it may have had to due with Mauro Diaz picking up an injury early in the season like he normally does. Or maybe, just maybe...he wasn't the right guy to be starting in this lineup.
Even when he wasn't scoring in the first two months there was a lot of good in his play though. In Portland, he pressured the Timbers into a couple goals, which ends up not showing up on a stat sheet.
But there was a lot of time that he was on the field this year that didn't yield into anything positive on the offensive side of the ball. FCD needs him to be more involved in the attack than he really is right now, even if that means him coming back into the midfield more or have him come off the bench as a late game spark.
4. Will one transfer this summer actually help out?
The Target Allocation Money is there. So is the General Allocation Money. FCD has both by a fair amount going into the transfer window this summer. Which means they should be able to bring in someone to help with that late season push towards the post season and with the Champions League.
The big worry I have is that any big target that comes in won't be able to make an impact right away or even until 2017. This is pretty typical of a lot of summer transfer to MLS clubs.
The other question here may be which area is most important to improve this summer? Center defense? Full back? Wing depth? Or another forward?
5. Does the Champions League take a bigger priority than league play?
August is going to be here before we know it folks. With that should be the start of the group phase in the Champions League. There is a chance FC Dallas could also still be in the US Open Cup around then as well but we’ll worry about that later on.
We know how important this tournament is to the league but how does FCD actually view this tournament is the real question. We know the group and how doable it should be. Does Pareja give chances to the younger players like most MLS teams tend to do in these tournaments? I think the real answer should be yes but time will tell.
6. Can FC Dallas establish a consistent lineup?
One common theme this season that may be going unnoticed is how different Pareja’s lineup has been with each passing game. Only once this season has he been able to trot out the same lineup from the previous game. Think about that for a minute, 15 of the 16 games have featured at least one change to the starting eleven.
Obviously this happens when injuries and international call ups happen. But I look more specifically at the defense and the center midfielder above the back four as something that has to get more consistent in terms of lineup choices out of Pareja for FCD to continue to be near or at the top of the standings in the second half of the season.
I realize it won’t be easy with US Open Cup, Champions League and of course other injuries and call ups coming into the mix. But as long as Pareja can establish a fairly consistent rhythm about his lineup, FCD will be well on their way to a successful season.
What type of questions do you have going into the second half of the season?