It is almost game day for FC Dallas fans and as we like to do most weeks, we welcome in a fellow blog to help preview the game with a series of questions. This week, we welcome in Pat Murphy of Massive Report to help preview tomorrow’s game against the Columbus Crew SC.
BDS: Columbus comes in with the same record so far in this young season as FCD, how have the first two games gone under Caleb Porter? Any surprises or things that Dallas fans need to know about the Crew under Porter?
MR: Not a ton. If you remember how Caleb Porter played for most of his time with the Porter Timbers, it was similar to how Gregg Berhalter’s Crew team played. Both coaches are about possession and creating chances offensively. The difference so far under Porter has been where the possession occurs. He wants the Black & Gold to have the ball higher up the field, meaning the central midfielders both player higher than they often did under Berhalter.
Another somewhat noticeable difference is how the team creates its chances. While the fullbacks still overlap and put crosses into the penalty box, the offense isn’t as predicated on that. With the midfield buildup taking place more central, there have been more chances created from that part of the field.
The final thing, and again this isn’t a major difference, is that Porter wants his team to counter-press more often than Berhalter did when they lose the ball. If Columbus concedes possession in their attacking third and there’s an opportunity to try and win it back right away, the Crew will put in the effort to do so in order to regain possession quickly.
BDS: The Crew didn’t have a massive overhaul to their roster this winter but were there any new faces brought in that we should know about for Saturday?
MR: The main change is winger Robinho. He is a Brazilian who looks to have a bright future in MLS. He’s a fast player who likes to take on defenders. In limited action so far in the first two games and in the preseason, he’s helped create chances when on the field. I’m not sure he’s ready to be a starter quite yet but he has shown promise.
The other addition is an old face in Columbus in Waylon Francis. The left back spent last year in Seattle after beginning his MLS career with the Black & Gold in 2014. Francis was brought back when Milton Valenzuela was lost for the year in the preseason and he brings both a similar style of play and a familiarity with the Crew to the team.
BDS: Now that the Crew faithful have endured saving their team, what is next for this fanbase? When will the new stadium be built? And will it really impact things?
MR: There’s quite a bit going on. During the whole Save The Crew process, people around Columbus made a pledge to buy season tickets. Many of those people have followed through with their pledge and it showed on opening day when, despite poor weather, the Crew had an engaged and interested crowd of nearly 18,000.
The new ownership group is also doing things to make their presence felt. They recently had media day at a local inner-city type school and announced that they were building a mini field for the kids there to play soccer and this is supposed to be one of many. This is all part of a bigger plan to be more community-oriented going forward. They are also doing basic things to help update MAPFRE Stadium, starting with the simple things like making sure all the toilets and lights work (the previous ownership group allowed things to fall into poor conditions).
The new stadium is expected to open in 2021 and it will be in downtown Columbus, right by where the Columbus Blue Jackets and the minor league baseball team in town play. This should help generate interest, as it will be in a much more ideal place and newness always brings out new fans.