FC Dallas traveled up north to a frigid Kansas City for a Saturday night matchup between two Western Conference playoff teams.
Pareja Plays The Kids
Oscar Pareja fielded a heavily rotated starting XI compared to last week vs Los Angeles Galaxy, with the only retained starters being Matt Hedges, Maynor Figueroa, Carlos Gruezo and Cristian Colman. With FC Dallas known for playing their youth, the unofficial motto has been “play the kids” and he certainly did just that. He gave full debuts to three players in Jacori Hayes, Paxton Pomykal and Carlos Cermeno with an average age of the starters at 23.8 years old.
Compare this to an average age of 28.2 for Sporting Kansas City’s starting XI. I believe this heavily rotated lineup is because Liga MX referees are currently on strike, which led to Pachuca not having a match this weekend. Pachuca will be well rested going into the CCL semifinal matchup on Wednesday.
Pareja will now have a more rested squad going facing the Mexican side to try and advance to the final. Another thing to note, Oscar Pareja played his tactics perfectly. His intention was to play defensively (okay, we parked the bus) but debutants such as Cermeno and Hayes assisted Gruezo in the center of the park to congest the middle of the field where Kansas City prefers to build play through. This forced them to move out wide where Atiba Harris and Aaron Guillen put in a good shift to prevent play going back into the middle.
Number 19 has returned to a FCD shirt
It has been five years since the number 19 has been worn by an FC Dallas player. Previously occupied by fellow fan favorite, Zach Loyd, but respectfully changed his number after the sudden passing of FC Dallas legend, Bobby Rhine. Whenever Paxton Pomykal was signed, he had gotten permission from the Rhine family to pay tribute to Rhine by wearing his number. Through that, a tradition was born, that an academy player, brought through the system, who represents the values of FC Dallas and Bobby Rhine will have the honor of wearing number 19 on their back.
On Saturday, this tradition became a reality as 17-year-old Paxton Pomykal made his MLS debut, which is also a record for the youngest FC Dallas starter. The young Homegrown looked like a natural on the pitch, playing composed, smart timely passes and created a couple of chances for his teammates. I was especially impressed with his corner kicks, with one providing Hedges a good shot on goal. In a side that was heavily rotated, he was one who stuck out. I am hoping to see much more of Paxton over the coming years and to be a pivotal part of this team.
Colman’s Touch Killed Him Saturday Night
Don’t get me wrong, I think Cristian Colman will be a great signing for FC Dallas. However, in a starting XI where the Paraguayan was the focal point of the attack, he was a bit just off the mark. This can’t go without saying that he had one solid chance where it bounced off the woodwork, thanks to pressure from Graham Zusi. However, for the most part, Colman’s first touch was weak, and it caused him to lose possession frequently. Whenever he did have a good first touch, he often got dispossessed by Matt Besler and Ike Opara.
I think this is more down to him adjusting to the United States and finding his feet in a new league. From what little I had seen of him in the past, I was impressed, and hopeful he can replicate his form in MLS.