The season is winding down as the playoff run is upon us here. FC Dallas has ten games to go as they look to lock up a playoff spot and hope for a first-round bye.
As the playoff run gets put into high gear, there are a few players that our staff would like to see step back up and help lead this team to a MLS Cup.
Scott Hiney – Maxi Urruti
A number of things go into my reasoning, some in Maxi’s control and some not. For one, he’s only sitting on six goals for the season and he netted five of those six in a six-game span between April 21 and May 25. He was really hot during that period and, while we know that’s the kind of player Maxi is, he’s now gone 1,113 minutes since his last goal, largely during months where each game feels like it can define either a slump or a streak for the team.
That goalless stretch is obviously shades of his disappearance down the stretch last season, when he only scored 1 of his 12 goals in the season’s final 15 games. The team absolutely goes as he goes, shown by the team’s 9-3-7 record in those first 19 games, compared to their 2-7-6 record in the final 15 games.
This season, getting back on track will likely be even harder for Maxi after the acquisition of Dominique Badji, who's already scored in an FC Dallas uniform, and the familiarization period with new number ten Pablo Aránguiz. If he can, though, it’ll make all the difference for an FC Dallas attack that’s been uncharacteristically tame this season.
Jason Poon - Santiago Mosquera
Really, this is just about his health. A couple of hamstring injuries, both of which were his right hammy, is a little concerning. At some point, that weighs a bit in the back of your mind and you start wondering if you can really go full speed without tearing something. Mosquera is quite talented, and he can be a real difference maker for this team when he’s at full speed. Can he stay healthy down the stretch and still give it 100%?
Nathan Hill - Maxi Urruti
I’m on board with Scott here. Maxi does a lot of things really great and obviously fits with the work rate, leadership, and energy that Papi wants. However, you got to score some goals. What I notice more and more is that teams are zeroing in on him, which means he is swarmed whenever he has the ball. That’s a good thing in a way, because it means FCD’s opponents are aware of what Urruti can do if given space. Maybe Pablo’s presence, the return of Santi, the introduction of Badji, and Barrios’ run in front of goal will challenge teams’ attention. Maybe the space will come.
Ultimately, I am ready for Urruti to get a run of games off the bench. He probably deserves a bit of a rest to keep him fresh down the stretch, and that change of pace, being able to come in and run at tired defenders, will create the opening to get back on track. Urruti is going to be key if this team is going to make a playoff run.
Jeff Loftin - Maxi Urruti
Maxi is resembling his 2017 season form where he started relatively strong but has gone on hiatus of late. He needs to get things together and score some goals...and soon. If he is not able to do that then the team will likely move on, which they may be planning to do anyway with the acquisition of Badji. I would like to see how Badji performs without Maxi on the field, so perhaps giving him some time on the bench will help him in the long run. Give him time to sit for a bit and then hope he comes on strong when we need him most. If we want a playoff run of any sort we will need Maxi to play well, so here’s hoping.
Drew Epperley - Jesse Gonzalez
I still believe this defense is a one that can win a MLS Cup with the leadership of Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler but the way Gonzalez has played in goal as of late has me concerned that we’re one mental slip up away from another quick playoff exit. Great goalkeeping can earn you a lot of points in this league and in the playoffs you need a guy that can be trusted not only to make the big stop or penalty save but to also keep you calm and cool in the back. I’m not sure Gonzalez is that guy right now.
Jared Tilley - All three strikers
The striker position has been hot and cold again this year. There was a couple game stretch where the team was getting consistent production up top but for the most part, it has once again been pretty silent this year. Currently, none of the strikers on the roster are in a position to warranty playing time in regards to their goal scoring ability. Maxi offers a lot more than just scoring goals, but at the end of the day, the striker needs to score. In the last handful of matches, he hasn’t even managed to put any shots on target that have challenged the keeper, which is a pretty disheartening.
The biggest issue with Maxi’s lack of goals is that there isn’t anyone who can replace him right now. Colman has shown that he isn’t capable of putting the ball in the net consistently and since his ankle injury really hasn’t shown in any games. Clavijo obviously recognized this and brought in Dom Badji to help out up top. At this point though, Dom doesn’t look ready to make an instant impact. In the match Saturday evening, he barely touched the ball and looked pretty lost at times. With time, he should be able to become more comfortable but there isn’t that much time left in the season.
One of the three strikers is going to have to step up in order for this team to make a serious run in the playoffs this year. It’s by far the weakest spot on the field for Dallas and if fixed, this team could be very dangerous.
Jose Carmona - Reggie Cannon
FCD has options at pretty much every position except right back. I'm still concerned with the number of minutes Reggie is getting without rest. With this being his first season as a starter, I'm very concerned that Reggie may hit a wall as the season nears its end.
Minnesota is the type of opponent that you might consider resting Reggie against, or at least cutting his night short against, but we're not seeing that. There's no real option behind Reggie, and we know that Reggie wants to play every minute of every game, but at some point Pareja needs to look out for his one irreplaceable player on the team.