Two straight weeks of losses for FC Dallas (one in the US Open Cup, the other being a blow out in New York), the sky seems to be getting darker for fans as we recall what happened this time last year.
While it is easy to believe the sky is going to fall on this season based on last year, 2018 has felt different from day one with this group. Here are some things that stand out to me as I look at the summer and how FC Dallas should be able to handle things better moving forward.
Depth is actually there
I know the recent sell of Anton Nedyalkov is a tough one to wrap your head but aside from any potential money that comes in from that transfer, FC Dallas is actually in a decent position here with Ryan Hollingshead and Maynor Figueroa as capable stand-ins until either a full-time replacement is brought in this summer or someone steps up and really takes this starting role for their own.
The depth is strong with this roster, most so than what we’ve seen in the past. Just look at what Oscar Pareja has been able to do in the central midfield this season with the rotation of Jacori Hayes, Kellyn Acosta, Carlos Gruezo and Victor Ulloa. The same can be said for how the wings have been rotated before all the injuries popped up with Santiago Mosquera.
I’d also throw in the fact that we still haven’t seen some of the new Homegrown signings yet in league play, but unlike last year, they’re getting a solid run in the USL. Their time will come soon enough.
The one thing that stuck out to me last year was Pareja’s lack of willingness to move away from certain formations and looks. Half of the season (when the team was successful) was in a 4-4-2. The rest of the year was mostly in a 4-2-3-1 when Mauro Diaz came back.
This season has been massively different with a new look almost every two or three games. The rotation of the roster has kept players fresh (maybe too fresh in some cases), and has given some extra motivation in training to players to step up and battle for their spot.
Not all looks have worked out, as we saw last weekend in New York with the 3-5-2. But the 4-3-3 with Diaz as a false wing has been something that other teams haven’t sorted out just yet.
Speaking of Diaz...
I know it is easy to get frustrated by the constant resting and holding him out of games, especially road games but the reasoning behind it makes sense. You want him for the long haul, most importantly, for the playoffs.
Do you really need him for a random game in the middle of the summer on the road in New York when he may not be 100%? Sure, but wouldn’t it be better to have him at 100% for four or five games in a row when it matters? Yes.
FC Dallas is taking a more careful approach to his health this season, which is understandable when you consider the types of injuries he has had since he arrived here in Dallas. The four games on, two games off approach isn’t the worst if he is able to return each time and contribute the way he has. Each time he has not made the field for a game this season, the very next time out he has either brought in a goal or an assist.
Like some folks are saying, the club has lost two games this season. Just two! It is easy to get sucked into the dark thoughts on this club based on what we’ve seen in the past but Pareja and company have done a good enough job this season and making sure history doesn’t get repeated for a second straight summer.