As the team is getting prepared, our staff is taking a look today at who we think will be the biggest ‘x-factor’ for the team in Seattle this weekend. Let us know who you think will stand out the most this weekend and help carry FCD to the next round.
Jason Poon - Jesse Gonzalez
At this point I think it’s pretty safe to say that we can all assume we know exactly what everyone can bring. Fair or not, since this is a single elimination style playoff, it kind of all comes down to Jesse Gonzalez. If he plays like Superman, then Dallas can knock off anyone in the league. Leak an easy goal? Then book an early winter vacation.
Ben Lyon - Jesus Ferreira
It’s a little odd that a player who can deliver that kind of highlight, is the club’s leading scorer, and is the son of a club legend can go under the radar; and yet, it would seem to be the case with Chuy Ferreira. To add to this, FC Dallas is 8-1-1 in matches where Ferreira scored and/or assisted this season. That includes all three of the teams regular season road wins.
Ferreira has the ability- although perhaps not consistently- of playing between the lines, delivering good to great through balls, and pushing the offense for himself or his teammates. What’s more his work rate and agility are underrated, and he’s been sneakily effective at pressing this year. If he can dial it up for the playoffs, he can be the difference maker the club needs to exceed their haul of prior road wins in a month and bring home FCD’s first MLS Cup.
Drew Epperley - Matt Hedges
I’ve always agreed with the notion or thought that defense wins championships. I really believe that is even more true in the MLS Cup Playoffs. You don’t see a ton of wild 4-3 games or massive blowouts, instead you see a lot of close 1-0 or 2-1 type games that rest on the defense not making big errors. We know this Dallas defense can be good but they can also be absolutely awful (looking back to that road trip to Chicago or Colorado as examples). Hedges is an All-Star defender and a leader of this team too. The team needs to lean on his experience in this setting and be calm and composed on the road in Seattle.
Nathan Hill - Zdenek Ondrasek
There is no hotter player than Ondrasek right now. His international appearances this past week have only added to his late season surge and emergence. Cobra is on fire. While he does have a long way to go on his return stateside and a nasty bout of jet lag to deal with, I don’t think FC Dallas has ever had a player more fired up. He doesn’t need sleep right now. I imagine him running laps on the plane, setting up a portable goal in the back to smash home crosses. He probably assists the captain by helping to land the plane. The guy is in form. Seattle is likely unprepared for what is coming their way.
Jose Carmona - Santiago Mosquera
Mosquera used to be a super sub with his old club Millonarios, who barely played his final season there, but caught fire in time for the playoffs and helped his team win the title. Santi now has the opportunity to repeat that feat with FCD.
The FCD attack has struggled against the better teams in MLS, because Michael Barrios has been the lone consistent threat for FCD. Better teams have focused their defense on Barrios, and rendered toothless what has for the most part been a one dimensional attack.
Mosquera has the ability to force defenses to respect both wings, and if the defense focuses too much on Barrios, Santi will be allowed to work his best skill, which is beating 1v1 coverage.
A healthy Mosquera makes this team a three dimensional attack, and that's something opponents haven't really seen from FCD.
Scott Hiney – Santiago Mosquera
I like where Jose’s head is at, as I also think Santi has a big role to play in the playoffs. On decision day, he really found good footing in the attack and was consistently generating chances in a way that we’ve never seen — at least in recent memory. He’s as good as his health lets him be, and if he’s truly 100% right now, he still has the ability to create offense that is now only heightened by the emergence as Ondrášek as a true number nine.
This team hasn’t had a consistent playmaker all year, relying instead on a platoon, but that’s never what you want in a win-or-go-home scenario, so Mosquera certainly has a shot at claiming that role — if he’s up to filling it.
Mohammad Bushnaq - Bryan Acosta
The midfield battle will be incredibly important in any postseason matchup. Given that the team will be on the road in an unforgiving venue, Bryan Acosta needs to put his footprint on the match if FC Dallas is to be successful in Seattle. He must be a warrior on those 50/50 challenges and a wizard with through balls moving forward. It's a tall task for the Honduran.
If Acosta can put in a Gruezo-like performance (and maybe hit the target on one of his shot attempts), then I fancy FC Dallas hanging around and making the hometown crowd nervous. If he flounders, this one may end with a multiple goal defeat.
Andrew Gentry - Ryan Hollingshead
If Seattle stopping the flaming hot Cobra is a key to winning, then it stands to reason that keeping Seattle’s main man, Jordan Morris, in check, is a key as well. Sure he didn’t score against England (or even Canada) like the big Czech, but Morris has had a terrific season and has added the most important skill for any athlete - consistency. He has consistently lead the Seattle attack and it falls now on Ryan Hollingshead to slow him down.
Ho-head also can play a key role in the attack as his marauding forward runs always add a bit of creativity (chaos) to attack. And that chaos is good for Dallas, it makes them unpredictable, which is even more important in a win-or-go-home playoff game. Captain Chaos needs to show up for Dallas to move on.