I have to admit, I’ve been a bit lazy lately of writing items during this international break but this kind of post was in mind last week. Still, I have to give a hat tip to Michael Lahoud’s post over at MLSSoccer.com for getting me to finish out what I began last week. Sometimes you just need a good nudge to finish a post like this.
So here we go, a look at the FC Dallas roster and club as a hole at this international break in terms of who’s stock is up and down.
I know I’ve brought up Acosta’s play several times this season as something that has stood out to me. Either he’s finally settled into the right role for him under head coach Luchi Gonzalez, or he’s finally comfortable in MLS, or maybe a bit of both.
Either way, Acosta has been a busy guy this season. His passing percentage is second on the club for players with more than 500 minutes so far. He’s also got eight key passes, good enough for fourth on the team. He’s second on the team in interceptions, which is what you want to see out of a midfielder. Lastly, he is also helping elevate Tanner Tessmann as a starter and is helping guide him as a true veteran of the team.
Most importantly, he’s not trying to take a ton of chances from outside the penalty box like we’ve seen out of him in previous seasons. He is still on set-piece duty, which isn’t great, but the further we go along here I do feel like things will improve since everything else feels better this season from him.
Ricaurte has been the other bright spot for me this season. Sure, his assist numbers aren’t where we’d like them to be and at times I do wonder what it would look like for him to possibly play a little wider than central (I’m in no way advocating that change, just a pure pondering out loud on my part as a way of wondering what it would take to get this team truly going in the right direction here). Still, when he is in the right spot (sometimes he drifts out of focus for me) he can be extremely dangerous in the attack and does find a way to create a ton of chances (remember the RSL game where he had eight key passes?).
Yes, we have to continue to talk about Jara and the dismal start to his season. If you take out the one game that FCD saw their offense explode (Jara wasn’t on the field for three of those goals in that 4-1 win by the way), we’re looking at five goals in six games out of the offense with Jara only finding the net from the penalty spot.
We saw this a bit in 2020 with Jara though, if he was scoring, the offense was running smoothly around him. But when he goes cold, everyone goes cold. Not what you want out of a guy making $3 million. You want him to elevate players around him even when he isn’t finding the back of the net. Jara doesn’t seem to be the guy that either wants to do that or even cares to try to. Maybe things are different for him in training but in a game, he certainly doesn’t do enough.
Eddie Munjoma/John Nelson
We knew after 2020 that our right back situation was going to be a bit of a toss-up. I do think Munjoma has stepped into the role in a nice way and is still learning. After all with these young players, it is getting positive minutes in games that helps their development.
His passing is getting there, it isn’t great at times but he’s certainly improving by each game. His defending is also improving as he is finding his footing in the system and is getting more comfortable next to the veteran center backs that the club has.
Nelson on the other hand has had his moments at left back or a left wingback this season. In the few games he’s played so far he has either looked a bit out of position or just not up to the level that he needs to be. I do believe part of that comes down to the system being played this season, he’s more of a traditional defending left back in my mind and not one that likes to get forward as much. That area has to improve or else his minutes will likely continue to be limited to an off the bench option.
I went into this season thinking that out of the two big winger signings that Vargas would actually stand out a little more than Jader Obrain. So far, I’ve been way wrong. Maybe it was the preseason hype of him scoring goals from a set-piece or just his ability to improve the attack during that time. But once the games began to matter, his play quality decreased. It is still very early for him in a Dallas uniform but right now he is quickly going the way of a Santiago Mosquera for me.
I have to admit, I’m a huge Luchi guy. I want him to succeed and this season is certainly putting some doubt in that for many of you out there. Either it is the lineup selection that is troubling, the constant formation tinkering, or just the over-reliance on Jara when he is cold that is causing doubts left and right. Thankfully this international break is a great time for the club to reset things and get back to square one, finding results.
I know I am more of a glass-half-full kind of guy, so these comments may annoy some of you (and that is fine), but there is still plenty of time to get things back on track. I’ve discussed many times how an MLS season is a marathon and while FCD has limped out in this edition, there is a ton of soccer left to be played that can get this group where we want them to go. I’m not ready to give up on Luchi just yet, there is a vision there that he has established that you can see getting results. It may seriously come down to the club finding some dumb luck to snap them out of this current funk. After all, winning does cure a lot of things in soccer.