The season has started slow for FC Dallas, but today on a media call, Head Coach Nico Estevez didn’t sound panicked or disappointed by the start.
“We are playing much much better than we expected,” Estevez said in response to a question about the pressure this team is feeling to get the season going with a win at home. “We were solid in areas we weren’t last year. We are focusing on the performance. We want to be the best team on the field every time and so are focused on doing things in the right way.”
Indeed, while FC Dallas has only one point in the first two games, they have held opponents to just two goals, one of which is from a penalty kick. After a 2021 season where the defense struggled to keep balls out of the net, the small sample size is encouraging.
Estevez also expects new signing Alan Velasco to have a role on Saturday.
“He is ready to be in the roster for Saturday,” Estevez shared. “We want to put him in a position of success. He had a very hard session today, so we’ll see how he recovers and the amount of minutes he can play.”
The downside of those first two games, discussed at length in our Big D After Dark live show, is the role of Jesus Ferreira. Are we expecting more from Jesus? Is the young striker, playing in a false nine, bearing too much weight for a lack of offensive output? Is this a situation of too much pressure on a young player?
“What Jesus contributes… there are few people who can analyze him in the right way,” Nico offered. “He makes everyone around him better. Sometimes, it is difficult to see. We expect goals, but there are other things that he does so well. There are few players that can do that, so we are lucky to have him on the team.”
The FC Dallas head coach acknowledged that strikers are often streaky.
“Sometimes, forwards (in this league) get moments where they score three games in a row then they don’t scour four games in a row,” Nico said. “He is getting the chances - we want him to get more chances. When the nine doesn’t score, it’s not just about him. We want to be a team that is not dependent on the nine. The wingers should score, the attacking mids should score, the wing-backs should score. His role is more than just how he plays.”
No doubt, the team needs the attack in the final third to click… and soon.
Facing a Nashville SC team that is notorious for grinding out results and not giving up opportunities, the task seems daunting on Saturday. Nico has enormous respect for Walker Zimmerman, having worked with him as an assistant coach for the US National Team, but the head coach’s confidence that the result will go their way is encouraging. This weekend is only his third game in charge, so it’s expected that the work is still in progress.
The other good news is that the team is mostly healthy with only Nikky Hernandez still out after having surgery.
Franco Jara, missing the first two games due to an injury, is getting stronger and better each day. Later this week, the team will decide the role he plays on Saturday. Having a late-game veteran striker available to spell Jesus or push for a go-ahead goal would be a huge boost to the team.
Overall, the media session today reveals that Nico Estevez is not in over his head as a first-year MLS coach. He knows that slow starts are a reality in this league, and his focus on building this project and a style of play means he is looking for more than just wins and losses. FC Dallas is in the midst of revealing a new Frisco way, and fans are eager it takes its next step this weekend.