Before watching this game you probably promised yourself that you wouldn’t panic. It’s still essentially a pre-season game, just one with something to lose, you told yourself. And lose they did. Dallas did its best to scare any fans that had high expectations for this season, which is impressive because it normally takes until the summer before the team starts playing this questionably. Let’s analyze the parts of this game that worry me the most.
Tesho Akindele is on the depth chart in permanent marker
Tesho is a loving husband, a board game enthusiast, and by all accounts a great guy. But he is deadly to Dallas’ attack. Fans have been pulling their hair out since last season trying to figure out why he still finds playing time and there doesn’t seem to be an answer. Oscar Pareja has a promising homegrown striker in Jesus Ferreira, a failed DP that needs confidence in Cristian Colman, and a new signing that can play up top in Santiago Mosquera. But game after game, poor touch after poor touch, bottled tap-in after bottled tap-in Pareja returns to Tesho.
Perhaps we lied to ourselves by thinking that because this team is deeper Pareja would look elsewhere for substitutions. Pareja’s insistence on relying on the same formation, core of players, and tactics is maddening and is the main knock against him as a coach.
The 4-2-3-1 never left
It’s felt like Pareja has been building for a 3-5-2 for a few seasons now, and the pieces he assembled this offseason were going to allow him to finally do it. Except in his first competitive game of the season, he went back to the ol’ 4-2-3-1. Of course, you can’t assume that just because he fielded that formation for one game that the 4-2-3-1 will be the default formation this season, but it was at least a little concerning to see the same stale formation from last season. The 3-5-2 did make a brief cameo after Dallas conceded, but expectations were that we would start games in the 3-5-2.
Hopefully Pareja is just playing it safe for now and using the 3-5-2 as something to build up to when he finds a second striker that he’s comfortable with. That needs to happen sooner rather than later because the 4-2-3-1 without Kellyn Acosta isn’t going to work. Victor Ulloa and Carlos Gruezo (as much as I love them) are too similar of players and lack the dynamism necessary to create chances. Here’s to hoping that this encourages Papi to shake things up.
Reggie Cannon brings what we want
We’ve been calling for some youth and energy on the wings. Anibal Chala was supposed to provide it, but it looks like it has arrived in the form of Reggie Cannon a year later than expected. Cannon, while occasionally shaky, won seven tackles (more than anyone else on the pitch) and several of those came high up the field. His energy makes him invaluable when it comes to pressing. If he can continue his contributions offensively and defensively, then he should acclimate to MLS painlessly. Cannon offers someone that can get forward and create chances both on the dribble or by pressing. With the amount of playing time he’s guaranteed this season, we should get to see him grow right in front of our eyes.