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What we’ve learned from FC Dallas’ 10-day Argentina trip

FC Dallas wraps up a slew of games to help prepare for next week’s CCL match.

FC Dallas

Ten days down and we can all this trip to Argentina a success for FC Dallas. The club wrapped up play today in South America with a 1-1 tie against Club Estudiantes de La Plata.

Now that trip is over for the club, lets take a moment and reflect over what we’ve learned out of the last week and a half.

Experiments with formations, lineups and positions

Oscar Pareja took this time to try out many, many different looks with his club. Between rotating players in and out through the various friendlies and scrimmages, to trying different formations, we got a real sense of where this club could be going early on this season.

Pareja mostly trotted out a 4-4-2 look that had both Maxi Urruti and newcomer Cristian Colman riding up front with an empty box behind them in the form of Kellyn Acosta and Carlos Gruezo. His final game day roster did switch things up with rookie Jacori Hayes riding in the #8 role alongside Acosta, a look that I wouldn’t be shocked to see a few times out this year, especially until Victor Ulloa gets fully fit from his sports hernia surgery.

I think it may be fair to say that we’ll see a good amount of this lineup in the coming weeks:

Pareja used this look a lot in the preseason, which appears to be where he is going with his lineup until Mauro Diaz is healthy again.

Then there was the experiment with Atiba Harris at center back. I mentioned earlier in the year that this could be something we see more of in the preseason as Pareja has had a fondness over converting players into new roles for depth reasons. I, for one, really hope this experiment gets ditched and we see more of Homegrown Aaron Guillen in times of need in the back.

Morales with the reserves

First of all, lets not read into why Javier Morales with with the reserves on more than one occasion this preseason. Guys like Walker Zimmerman also appeared with the reserves and we’re not worried about that at all.

Really, I think with Morales there is a lot of wait-and-see mentality going on with Pareja and his staff. They know what he can do on the field but appear to be taking the same approach that they did last year around this time with Mauro Rosales. The ‘we don’t want to burn you out too early’ approach. In all honesty, I love that line of thinking as it worked out very well with Rosales last season. The club used him as a super-sub off the bench early in the season and then late in the year they found ways to put him into the starting lineup more often.

The Rosales situation

Speaking of Rosales, everyone was probably a bit happy to see him on the travel group in Argentina for these games. He appeared in a good chunk of games early on with the club. I’ve been told he requested to train with the club while they were in Argentina but there was no groundwork for a new contract for him in that agreement.

Will FCD reconsider and re-sign the veteran? I’m 50-50 on that thought right now. Part of me would like to see him be that veteran addition that helps out in the locker room and keeps the ship afloat when times are rough. But at the same time, they already have a few guys on the roster that already do that.

Let me put it this way to you all, I would be happy to see him back but at the same time I wouldn’t be disappointed if the club passed on him for this year.

Youth in full focus

Looking back on this trip, there was a lot to be happy with when you looked at the results. Sure, there were a ton of draws. It is preseason folks, and that is okay.

The big point I saw in a lot of the matches were the minutes focused on the reserves. FCD was able to get a lot of minutes out of their entire roster in this trip and more importantly we got to see a lot of good looks at all the new Homegrown players and the rookies like Hayes and Adonijah Reid.

I continue to have to harbor my excitement when I see things like this:

Or this:

Some of these moments were against players on first teams in a pretty solid league. I know preseason excitement is hard to contain at times (ie: Timo Pitter) but I have a really good feeling about this new crop of Homegrown players and rookies on this team. All seem to have the chops to make it in this league if they continue to do things like what we saw above.

Rookies trying to make the roster

On the flip side, the unsigned rookies that were in camp for this trip started strong but faded fast in terms of minutes played. We got to see a fair amount out of Dakota Barnathan, Walker Hume and Austin Ledbetter but the more this trip went on, the more I think all three of them may fail to make this roster in the end. I could be wrong on that as I think the club would be silly to pass on Hume for depth but with the experiment of Harris at CB, it could be tough for him to crack this roster.