This has certainly felt like a long offseason/preseason. It was almost four and a half months ago that FC Dallas played in a competitive match as they lost to the Seattle Sounders in the MLS Cup playoffs.
These last few weeks in the preseason have been great as we get back to some normalcy with the win in La Copita over rivals Houston and Austin. But now that the preseason camp is in the books and we’re in our first full week of the regular season, there are still some questions that need to be answered before we get going on this new season.
Will the reinforcements work?
FC Dallas was once dubbed as one of the most active and productive teams of the MLS offseason. Part of it was due to the transfer of Bryan Reynolds. Other part was due to the influx of talent like Freddy Vargas, Jader Obrian and Jose Martinez. I don’t think selling Thiago Santos was truly in the cards two months ago but they did that as well.
But will it all work out? The early returns in the preseason are pretty strong though which should give us some optimism. Vargas is scoring goals, nice ones too. Obrien is looking solid in the attack. And Martinez really looks like one of the best defensive additions to this team since some guy name Matt Hedges. Also some of the rookies are showing well and of course we got another Homegrown player to get excited about in Beni Redzic. Overall, there feels like a lot of reasons to be optimistic about this new crop of players.
Will we see Paxton from 2019 or 2020?
There have been whispers of how good Paxton Pomykal has looked in training this preseason. He appears stronger, a bit sharper and possibly more like the guy that we know he can be. But then there has also been talks of how he’s being limited in training with a non-contact penny or that he’s still not quite 100%.
So which will it be? More of the wait-and-see due to injuries or more of the promise of the guy that we get back in 2019? Just the little bit that I’ve been told from his time in training, he’s looking better and better with each rep and minute out there. If anything I think we could see him as a super-sub early on for the club as he works on getting his health back to a good enough place to be a day-in and day-out starter for this team.
At least that is the hope. We want the best for Paxton here. More of what we got in 2019 and none of how 2020 went would be ideal for everyone.
Can the defense gel quickly enough?
For the most part this preseason, the defense has been fairly stout. Newcomer Jose Martinez looks like a natural leader in the back alongside GOATs Matt Hedges and Ryan Hollingshead, with guys like John Nelson and Eddie Munjoma getting spells at the wingback spots as well. But look at some of the time against Austin last week. Miscues, mental breakdowns and just odd playing out of the back led to a near loss to the expansion side.
Thankfully the offense has seemed to gel pretty well so far that they may make up for any defensive mistakes early on. I think the good news though here is that this is a fairly veteran-led group and once the chemistry is built, it will only go up from here and will help bleed into other areas of the team.
What is that preferred formation going to be this year?
We know Luchi Gonzalez loves him some 4-3-3 but he isn’t afraid to shift things into a 4-4-2 or even a 4-5-1 when he needs to here. We also know he likes to play around with a 3-5-2 as well as a 3-4-3. Either way, Luchi has options.
But at the end of the day, the best look is probably always going to be a 4-3-3 with an emphasis on how he is able to deploy that middle three. With Thiago Santos gone, the time could be now for a guy like Tanner Tessmann or Edwin Cerillo to step up and make their case at the #6. Or we could see Tessmann/Cerrillo alongside Bryan Acosta as a duel 6/8 role as they support Andres Ricaurte in the #10.
What is lacking?
No MLS roster is ever truly set. There are always bumps along the way that cause things to shift or a random player sale that causes change. But in all reality, right now things do feel pretty set for FC Dallas. They’ve gone out and signed some new talent, gotten some more Homegrown players added (Redzic) and could be finally figuring out how to properly use North Texas SC as a pipeline (Nicky Hernandez as an example).
But I think the bigger things that are lacking at the moment for me are figuring out how to get Jesus Ferreira on the field as a #9, getting those minutes out of Pomykal, figuring out that midfield set, and unleashing Ricaurte to his full potential. All in due time though as the new season is here. Those things we just have to be patient for here.
What is your one big question ahead of the new season for FC Dallas? Let us know below.