MLS is back. FC Dallas is back. Just saying those two phrases sends a bit of a chill of excitement down my spine. It has been four long months as we waited for some real soccer to be played and, yeah, here we are folks.
As FC Dallas is getting set to host the Colorado Rapids tomorrow night, I thought it was a good time to bring back a series of things to watch for in the first game. What will you be on the lookout for tomorrow as the Rapids come into town?
Familiar faces from Colorado
I have always found inter-conference trades to be weird. Like, really weird. Yet FC Dallas has sent two really big fan favorites to the Rapids in recent years with former Homegrown midfielder Kellyn Acosta and now more recently with winger Michael Barrios. I still will root for the two of them (and by extension, the Rapids) this year but not this weekend.
At least the familiarity should play a nice factor for FC Dallas. Barrios had a solid preseason as the Rapids’ leading scorer and he knows a thing or two about playing against this defense from training. Acosta also enjoyed a nice preseason, with time on the senior national team again (which was fantastic to see).
Is FC Dallas’ starting lineup really set?
I think overall, the starting lineup for Saturday is kind of set if you look at the last few preseason games. Ricardo Pepi didn’t unseat Franco Jara for that starting striker spot, and unfortunately, Jesus Ferreira came up injured this week. That one feels like the best lock of the bunch alongside Jimmy Maurer in goal, Matt Hedges and Jose Martinez in the center of the defense, and Andres Ricaurte at the #10 in the midfield.
Everything else does feel like it could be open for debate. The wings right now look to go to the newcomers Freddy Vargas and Jader Obrien. I’m not disappointed by that one bit as I want to see them both more against MLS competition. The fullbacks that will overlap them in the midfield should be Ryan Hollingshead and John Nelson, but don’t sleep on a start for Eddie Munjoma either at this point.
But those two remaining midfield slots are anyone's guess. Head coach Luchi Gonzalez did appear to gush and rave over Edwin Cerrillo’s preseason camp, which is a great thing to hear. Between him, Tanner Tessmann, and Bryan Acosta, there are options. My gut tells me it will be Tessmann and Acosta as a way to neutralize the Rapid’s midfield and attack. But I’ve been wrong many times before.
Any stock in the preseason results?
By all accounts, FC Dallas had a fantastic preseason campaign. When you win all of your games, it should mean something. When you win a preseason tournament, it should mean something. But I don’t know how many times I have seen a team go through the preseason without a loss over the years covering MLS.
The same goes for how some players in preseason. You want results, you want goals, but can it be replicated on the big stage of a regular season game? How many times did we see Santiago Mosquera ball-out in preseason games only to disappoint in most games during a season?
It's great but we should never take too much from it other than the fact that they won a tournament. Both Dan Hunt and Luchi Gonzalez told the media yesterday on their press call winning any kind of tournament should breed a mentality that leads to winning more and more trophies.
At the end of the day, Gonzalez got exactly what he wanted out of this preseason campaign. He was able to get all of his new players in (except for the one that was recently signed) on time and integrated with the rest of the team. They played MLS competition and won.