As the preseason came to a close last Saturday with a win over the Portland Timbers, we’ve asked our staff to give us their final thoughts on what they liked about the preseason, their expectations and any concerns that they still have going into the new year.
Jeff Loftin - Defense, Defending, Team Defensive Shape
I have yet to see anything that makes me believe that we will be able to do much other than outscore people thus far. This should make for an exciting season, and I am still hopeful that all the new faces can put things together and solidify individually and collectively as a unit. Overall the team’s defending in the preseason has left much to be desired and there have been lots of opportunities for other teams that just were left wanting. I am not as worried about the offense, as I feel that those guys are already starting to come together and the new players have slotted in well so far.
If our midfield is not able to defend and help the defenders then we are in for a long season of 4-3 and 3-2 games. The fact that Papi seems set on rotation also makes me hopeful that overall team chemistry will improve and that players will be able to share responsibility. I feel good about the season overall, but not as hopeful that we’ll be taking the Shield or MLS Cup until our defense is shored up.
Scott Hiney - Peace From Personnel
Going into the season and after watching three of the preseason matches, it seems this squad simply has better-quality players. Zeigler and Nedyalkov have really impressed me — especially Anton’s poise (reminiscent of Zach Loyd). In small glimpses, Mosquera has that break-neck pace that only makes Diaz a better distributor and Urruti a better finisher. I don’t worry about Jesse in goal and I think Carlos Gruezo’s continued maturity will show, bolstering a gritty central defense. Finally, Reggie looks incredibly promising and to get such vast experience at such an early age will do him wonders going forwards (hopefully for FC Dallas).
Jack Rouse - Mentality
There was no lack of talent on last year’s team. It was more or less the same team that won USOC and the Suporter’s Shield. Where the team struggled was in their mentality. While this year’s team has more talent, if they don’t fix the mentality that allowed them to fall out of playoff contention, then it won’t matter. I want to see someone step up on the field and make FC Dallas their team. With Acosta’s probable summer departure, I want to see Matt Hedges or Victor Ulloa step up and take control of the team on the field. I understand that we don’t get to see what a team is like in the locker room, but it was obvious that there was more going on last season than what was on the field. Those problems must be sorted first before Dallas can hope to compete for anything this year.
Andrew Gentry - Defense and Playing the Kids
I agree with Jeff 100% that defense and defensive shape are probably going to decide how our season goes. We have plenty of attacking talent, probably the most the team has had in 5 years, and it looks really good and will probably win us a few games. But this preseason has not yet showed us that the team has moved past last season’s defensive woes. Matt Hedges is a beast, and the new European imports look more than solid, but they just haven’t spent enough time together to gel as a unit. Reggie Cannon has been on a roller coaster all preseason, but giving him the starting job is the best part of the offseason. The team has a lot of really young depth behind the starters and I hope that means we see them step into more minutes and more important roles as the season moves on. FC Dallas has the legit ability to field an entire starting 11 of homegrown players and draft picks. Fingers crossed we get a game or two where we can get at least half on the field.
Jared Tilley - Patience
With this team getting a some new pieces all over the field, I am interested to see how they all settle in together. The backline isn’t going to come together over night. Yes, they should be able to be serviceable right away, but they won’t be a lockdown defense by any means. That doesn’t mean they can’t be, but right away they probably wont. The same will probably hold true for Mosquera. From watching the friendly on Saturday, it looks like he wants to move around about out of his traditional position. It will take time for the team to figure out where he is on the pitch as well as where the best places for him to receive the ball are.
The pieces are there for this team to once again gain its form from years past. This roster is good enough to compete in USOC and challenge in the playoffs. The biggest thing will be waiting for the players to gel so that they are able to reach those levels. This year, more than the last couple will be a slow burn, but ultimately, might be worth it in the end.
Nathan Hill - Defense (Again)
Mosquera looks legit. Diaz is back. Urruti scored twice in preseason. Barrios is ready. Even with Acosta out, I think Ulloa is more than good enough to plug in and keep things humming along. It’s the defense where I pause, just because you can’t expect 3 new starters to just work things out in one preseason. It’s going to take time. There will be some hiccups and probable disasters. It begins on Wednesday though, and if Hedges returns to form, the other guys won’t even have to be perfect for a good enough defense. Let’s hope all of that happens - sooner rather than later.
Jason Poon - Youthful Arrogance
One of the best things about the first three years under Oscar Pareja’s tenure as head coach of FC Dallas, was his ability to channel the youth’s ignorance and arrogance into something positive. That swash buckling swagger that the Homegrowns would exude every time they stepped out on the field paid off more times than not. Somewhere, somehow, FCD lost that in 2017.
Where was that arrogance of playing five Homegrowns on the road against Columbus? Where did that lack of fear of handing a player previously without a contract and only a handful of minutes to his name a start against the Portland Timbers?
This isn’t to say that playing with such reckless abandon will always pan out, but it was certainly fun to down swinging with Homegrowns and stating to the league, “We may lose, but we’ll do it without compromising the FCD way.”
I’m excited to see that swagger back. I want to see Cannon, Brandon Servania, Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira get significant minutes this year. When people say, “You can’t win anything with kids”, I want FCD to look them in the eye, and reply with a slight smirk on their face, “We’ll see about that.”
Mohammad Bushnaq - Where are the goals going to come from?
Pre-season is officially over and I still don’t feel great about this offense. Clavijo and Co. worked hard to fortify the back line and add depth, but the offense has only really seen the addition of Santiago Mosquera. Yes, it is a work in progress acclimating Mosquera and trying to figure out what in the world is wrong with Colman (I am sure a lot of the FCD faithful would pay big money to have this answered). Maxi Urruti found the back of the net a few times in the pre-season, but we all know he can go cold at any given moment for a prolonged period of time, so I am hoping with all my heart that Mosquera or Colman combined can fill the void in goals likely left by Lamah’s relegation to bench. Tesho has been maddeningly inconsistent, so I hope he can find some semblance of stability. I am just not convinced this offense is offering something much different from what we saw last year.
What are your final preseason thoughts? Let us know below.