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What to watch for as FC Dallas wraps up their preseason in Arizona

Three games over the next eight days will show us a lot about this squad.

Daniel McCullough

For the next week, FC Dallas will make their final 2019 season preparations as they head to Tucson, Arizona. During this week-long trip, Dallas will play Seattle (tomorrow morning), Sal Lake (next Wednesday) and New York Red Bulls (next Saturday).

The trip will help wrap up the preseason in time for their March 2 match against the New England Revolution. But this trip is more than just three games within eight days, it is also a big chance to see exactly what should be in-store for this group against MLS competition. Here are a couple things we’re keeping tabs on over the next week.

Finalize that formation and starting group

Last weekend against Bayern Munich’s U23 side, we got a serious look at what we think will be Luchi Gonzalez’s starting lineup come March 2. While newcomer and Designated Player Bryan Acosta could be the only change to that group, it is possible this is what we’ll get on day one in the 2019 regular season:

Again, Acosta could easily change that over Jacori Hayes and if Marquinhos Pedroso can get up to 100% here, he may overtake Ryan Hollingshead at the left back spot.

But that should be the lineup we see a lot of in this coming week, especially tomorrow against a Western Conference rival like Seattle.

Even if that isn’t the lineup that we see all the time over the next eight days, getting that new 4-3-3 look down will be key against MLS competition. So far it has looked good against college teams, local amateur sides and one German youth team. But getting it to work against MLS-level teams could be a different story. Thankfully Gonzalez comes across as a guy that is well prepared for getting his system to stick.

Don’t rush Acosta

This may be an unpopular thing to write down but I really don’t want FC Dallas to rush Bryan Acosta into this team just yet in this preseason campaign. Yes, he should be a starter for the majority of this season but losing out on that first three or so weeks of preseason due to visa issues is a set back that has to be handled with proper care.

Acosta needs the right time to get his chemistry down with his new team and while three games in eight days can certainly speed that up, the slower process over the next month in training will do just fine for me.

Gotta remember, the season is a marathon, not a sprint. He’ll be there for the long haul, let’s just make sure not to get too ahead of ourselves about him.

Solidifying that depth chart

We’ve seen a great deal of second and third team looks this preseason already under Gonzalez but this week could very well be more about figuring out who will be the main guy or guys behind the starters.

Just look at this second team that we saw last week against Bayern for 20 minutes and then against San Antonio:

There is some top talent on this eleven from Pedroso and newcomer Bressan in the back, to Brandon Servania (who appears to be the hair apparent to Carlos Gruezo at the #6 slot), to Pablo Aranguiz and another newcomer in Zdenek Ondrasek.

This group has to be pushing the first group as much as possible over the next eight days. Gonzalez said he wanted his team to be uncomfortable this preseason and nothing would be more uncomfortable in my mind than seeing our new coach having to make some tough decisions on his starting lineup for March 2 because of some stellar performances out of both groups.

Locating the best Aranguiz

MLS: Sporting KC at FC Dallas Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Aside from Acosta, who just got in to town last week. I think there are a hand full of players that really need a strong showing in Arizona and none may be bigger than Aranguiz. He hasn’t shown all that well in preseason so far and at times last weekend he looked a tad lost out on the pitch. Maybe it is a new role for him or he just wasn’t comfortable with some of the players around him (he was with some younger guys and a new forward that plays pretty different to what Maxi Urruti brought).

A lot of people expect the most out of this young playmaker due to his profile. He’s not a Designated Player but he’s damn close to it in terms of salary cap numbers. He’s still got plenty of time to reach those expectations but fans will grow more frustrated if he isn’t there on day one of this season.

No matter how we spin it, Aranguiz needs a big performance out of these next three games. I’m not saying he needs to score goals in each but he has to find ways to look involved and active by setting up teammates for goals or at least putting them in good spots to make attempts on goal.

What are you hoping to see out of this trip for FC Dallas?