The regular season starts this week for FC Dallas but not before an important second leg of the quarterfinal series with Panamanian side Arabe Unido on Wednesday. FC Dallas has a nice 4-0 lead going into that game, which begs the question of how Oscar Pareja will approach his lineup come Wednesday before the regular season opener in LA on Saturday.
Our team discusses what they’d like to see happen this week.
Jason Poon - Play the Kids
4-0 is a very large margin of error that Pareja can afford to start more of the youngsters in this one and allow some starters to rest for LAG. The game plan can be as simple as “Don’t let them score four goals” and the job will be done. Give guys like Anibal Chala, Paxton Pomykal and Aaron Guillen a look while sprinkling in some veteran leadership in Atiba Harris, Javier Morales and Maxi Urruti to keep things alive. This actually may not be a bad spot for Jesse Gonzalez to get a start in either.
Jared Tilley - Mixed Lineup
I won’t go as far as Jason on playing only kids. Regardless of the scoreline, a full lineup of the kids is still asking a lot of them, in what will possibly be a rocking stadium. The only thing I ask is that Oscar doesn’t get too cute. A mixed lineup is what I would like to see. I would like Urruti or Colman to start next to Tesho and either Kellyn or Gruezo in the midfield. I want to keep as much of the spine together as possible, at least early on. If we get to halftime and the game is still at a safe distance, then put the kids in. We have a great opportunity to get to the final four. I don’t want to mess it up by being too cute. CCL is top priority, even if LAG is there for the picking.
Nathan Hill - Tesho earned a start
Tesho’s scintillating, energetic, and electrifying performance last Thursday earns him a start. I would still use our no. 1 back line just because this could be a good warmup for a tough opening game at LA, but look to sub a couple of guys off. Still, the best situation is to try to get that one important away goal just to put all doubt to rest. This is a great chance to fine tune the lineup before MLS action begins.
El Chico Carmona: Mostly Reserves
F. Caesar is out for Arabe Unido. He's the team's captain, and most important defender. With Caesar out, I would go with only three starters, and all reserves.
Gonzalez, Cannon-Harris-Hedges-Guillen, Gruezo-Hayes, Akindele-Pomykal-Cermeño, Ferreira
Look for the all three starters to be subbed out, and the debut of the 5-2-2-1 formation in the second half.
I suspect Pareja will go with a lineup that includes as many as six starters, so don't be surprised.
Scott Hiney: Kids & Canadians
Maybe I’m just stealing from Jason and Nathan, but I think Oscar Pareja has a wonderful chance to give those new homegrown signings a chance to see first-hand what a major competition match feels like. It might not even see returns this season, but in the next few seasons when some of them are regular players, they’ll already have an experience to look back on. That’s huge in my opinion. Beyond that, this is a great chance to see more of Tesho Akindele’s development and his quality as a backup winger and striker. His play towards the end of the first leg definitely has me itching for more.
Also, give Atiba Harris some good minutes too. Alongside Reggie Cannon, that might be a nice pairing of experience and youth.