I’m Nathan, and I write most regularly a little fan vote series called Workhorse of the Week.
I’m Jose (El Chico Carmona), and I’m one of the new guys. I write a new weekly series Hoops Home and Abroad.
With FC Dallas’ loss in a somewhat spectacular and disappointing fashion at Pachuca, CCL action is done for this season. The result wasn’t really deserving for a team that worked that hard to advance and were in the thick of things for most of the series. I feel bad for the guys, but I have some lingering questions and hot takes.
Question One. Pareja sometimes overthinks things. Did he overthink the second leg against Pachuca?
Nathan: For once, Oscar Pareja did not overthink lineups and decide that this critical away leg needed a new formation. The starting lineup was the same as it was in the first leg, but there is something that irks me about FC Dallas’ approach. I know playing at altitude at Pachuca is not an easy thing, but I wonder if going up for a week in advance for extra practice and acclimation didn’t do more harm than good. FC Dallas looked gassed at the end of that game. They could have been extras for another derivative zombie show straight to Netflix. What irks me is that maybe going a week in advance is a result of MLS teams giving Liga MX teams too much respect. FC Dallas certainly doesn’t fly in to Colorado a week early to adjust to the altitude.
Would we have really seen a different result if FC Dallas flew in the day of the game and just played soccer without worrying about any of that extra stuff?
Jose: While I agree that Papi did not overthink the lineups, and stuck to the 4-4-2. I don’t really buy the whole “fly in the day of” argument. Yes, FC Dallas looked gassed down the stretch, and Pachuca seemed to be gaining strength, but I doubt that arriving the day of the game would have changed that outcome. Just a little thing called jet lag, and the fact that no matter how you paint it, FCD just wasn’t going to match Pachuca’s mid-season form and fitness level. Despite those drawbacks, it was the failure to finish, and some of the late game decision making by some players (staring right at you Seitz), that ultimately cost FCD a winnable game.
Question Two. Did FC Dallas get what they deserved?
Nathan: Reluctantly, yes.
Yes in that FC Dallas certainly didn’t get done in by some bad calls by refs. That opening Pachuca goal in the away leg was probably offside, but Pachuca grabbed two more to put a dagger through FCD’s heart. The Pachuca goal at Toyota was also dumb. Maybe you can point to the lack of form from it still being essentially preseason for FC Dallas, but you can’t blame a Russian conspiracy or bad call or intangible reason for FC Dallas losing. They ultimately couldn’t protect their own net. Chris Seitz has probably lost his starting job because of that poor performance.
But I say reluctantly, because FC Dallas looked pretty much in control in the first leg despite the bad goal they gave to Pachuca. They deserved more but, in the end, they got what they deserved. Nothing more, nothing less.
Jose: No. The first goal was definitely offsides, and I am completely convinced that all three goals could have, and should have been saved. Seitz has great command of the backline, and is great at organizing the defense, but this game highlighted his shortcomings on the physical side. Also, let me add that in the final minutes, Jesse would have eaten a yellow card for time wasting. Furthermore, all those rumors of FCD trying to bring in a big name GK, now make way more sense than when they were first reported.
Question Three. Will a change in schedule help MLS teams win the CCL?
Nathan: Ultimately, no. The schedule is a challenge, no doubt, but if a team is good, they will find a way. MLS teams aren’t as deep or skilled as Liga MX teams, but the difference is not that far apart. Omar Gonzalez was a good MLS player, and he’s a good Liga MX player. Most of the battle begins mentally. MLS teams need to treat Liga MX teams like they are Division 2 or 3. Pretend you’ve never heard of them. If they win the game, ask them how long they have been playing the sport with a surprised look on your face. Offer them pointers throughout the game in case they don’t understand what a goalie or soccer ball is. Tell your opponents that they probably wouldn’t make a MLS roster without having a little more skill. After the game, ask them if they want your shirt - you certainly don’t want their shirt.
I may being have some fun here, but seriously, give them some respect but any MLS team can beat any Liga MX team.
Jose: Yes. The new CCL schedule will allow some lucky MLS teams to reach the CCL Semifinals and face Liga MX teams in late April, by which time those MLS teams will have eight to 10 games under their belts (four CCL games and four to six MLS). This will mean the difference in form and fitness should be less of an issue by then, and the added plus of Liga MX teams having to worry about their Liga MX playoffs approaching.
Let’s not forget that there were three new starters out there for FCD, and they clearly are not yet 100% on the same page with their new teammates. FCD can compensate for the occasional lapses in communications against MLS teams, who are going through the same situations, but they can’t afford those lapses against a team in full mid-season form that resolved those very same issues long before the CCL Semifinals.