The return to the season and the start of summer didn’t exactly go as expected for FC Dallas on Saturday night. Their come-from-behind draw against Minnesota United at home is another example of points being left on the table here in the early going on this season.
There was some good to take of the night though but plenty of questions to still ask of this team. Here are some items that stood out to me.
Ready for Ferreira to start
As happy as I was to see Paxton Pomykal in the starting lineup for this one, it was the sight of Jesus Ferreira off the bench to begin the second half that brought the most excitement on the night. Ferreira looked very much like the player we saw earlier in the spring with the United States national team. His pace was at times explosive. His ability on the ball was fun to watch as well.
It was the exchange he had with Ryan Hollingshead that also lead to the Ricardo Pepi goal. Which kind of makes you wonder more and more, what if? What if he hadn’t picked up that shoulder injury right at the start of the season? Where would this team actually be had he been healthy through the entire stretch?
Still, we have to take this and run with it now that he is healthy. Is he ready to start each week? Maybe not yet but I would imagine we’ll see a similar return-to-action plan that we had out of Pomykal this season. Get him minutes off the bench in the next couple of games before unleashing him in the grueling summer stretch (though his availability with the Gold Cup could cause some issues with that plan).
New faces struggled at times
I know some of the new faces in the lineup weren’t true newcomers to the team like Facundo Quignon. You had Nkosi Tafari who made his debut in MLS in place of both Matt Hedges (hip injury) and Bressan (finalizing a green card). Both had their moments of both good and bad though.
Let’s start with Quignon, the true newcomer of the bunch. I know some are likely going to question the idea of throwing him out there after just a week of training with his new team. But I get it. Luchi Gonzalez was clearly looking for something to give his midfield a bit of a bite in this game and find a way to protect a backline that was starting a brand new (and young) center back). It was logical in a way, Quignon was deemed fit, ready and by all accounts, likely showed well in training to earn the start. In the end, it was a decent showing. He was good at moments like midfield tackle in the second half that made some highlight reels. He also struggled a bit to adapt to the heat, the pace, and his passing wasn’t on a level that you’d want in a defensive midfielder.
Tafari on the other hand was about what you’d expect for the young center back. He’s good with the ball on his feet and his passing is better than I expected. The kid also has plenty of pace to make recoveries in the defensive third but there are moments that he got caught out on an island defending a Minnesota player or two in dicy moments. I know Jimmy Maurer bailed him (and the rest of the team out) a few times on the night, but I like games like this for younger players in Tafari’s situation. After all, it is kind of how we got the likes of Hedges way back in the day when he was an up-and-coming rookie of his own. Some young players take this opportunity and run with it somehow, while others may show that their quality just isn’t up to an MLS level. I think time will tell us which category Tafari falls under.
Looking for positives
Most of you that ready this space know that I do try to look for the positives where I can, even in a down year like this one is starting to become. It wasn’t easy on Saturday night when you go back to the highlight of the Pepi goal and see that Franco Jara nearly runs right into the play and could have been a step away from blocking the shot. Also, why is Bryan Acosta still taking set-pieces? I don’t get that. Or the fact that you had guys like Eddie Munjoma and Brandon Servania not in the 18 but instead in the stands with former FCD academy stars Reggie Cannon and Bryan Reynolds.
Yeah, it is certainly tough to dig deep for positives in this game. As I mentioned above, I did like how Maurer bailed out the club a couple of times (some of it was also Minnesota’s poor shooting on the night). John Nelson had easily one of his best games in a Dallas uniform too. His ability to get forward is starting to improve but his crosses need a bit of work. Seeing Hollingshead as a captain for the first time in his career was also pretty special and long overdue.
I always say that it is a long, marathon-type season but this one feels like we’re already limping in the third mile with so much left in front of us to take on.