Behind Enemy Lines: Scouting Mazatlan 🔎
FC Dallas begins their Knockout Round journey with another Liga MX side.
The Knockout Round of the 2023 Leagues Cup is here as FC Dallas gets set to host their second straight game against a Liga MX team when they take on Mazatlan on Wednesday night.
Mazatlan advanced out of their group by defeating Austin FC 3-1 before winning a match on penalty kicks against rivals Jaurez FC.
Let’s dive into Wednesday’s opponent to see how they can advance to the Round of 16.
Key Player: Ake Loba
The Ivorian forward may be a name some MLS fans will recognize, as he was recently with Nashville SC as one of their Designated Players. Loba came to MLS from Monterrey with a lot of expectations but failed to live up to them in Nashville. Still, he found the back of the net in their second group stage game against Jaurez and he may have a bit of a chip on his shoulder against MLS clubs.
Key Matchup: Facundo Almada vs Jesus Ferreira
Almada appears to be a guy that would be a good fit in MLS. He’s currently on loan from Rosario Central and has shown well in his first year with Mazatlan. The battle between him and Ferreira will be one that could determine how this game will play out. He did an excellent job at keeping guys like Gyasi Zardes and Will Bruin of Austin at bay in their group stage match.
Artist formerly known as Monarcas Morelia - Back in 2020 (you all remember those times, right?), Liga MX was looking to move a club to the Sinaloa region after they built a brand new stadium. Due to financial problems, it was decided that Morelia would be the club to move to Mazatlan and would rebrand into the new club that we see today.
Only given up a PK so far - In their Group stage play, Mazatlan only gave up two goals. One was a penalty kick to Austin FC, and the other was an own goal to Juarez.
History against FC Dallas: This will be the first meeting between the two clubs.
International duty: none
Head coach Ismael Rescalvo appears to be set with a 4-2-3-1 look in his formation.
Gutierrez; Diaz, Merolla, Almada, Coula; Colman, Intriago; Bello, Montano, Medina; Loba
Keys To Advance
Continue to push the attack - The new-look attack with Alan Velasco in the middle of the field, pulling the strings, is working. It is opening doors for guys like Sebastian Lletget to get on the board and Bernard Kamungo to continue finding goals himself. But more importantly, it is also bringing Velasco out of his early season funk that he was in this year. FC Dallas will want to continue to find ways to keep him involved in this one to facilitate the attack and also get him to feed the runs on the wings in the counterattack. The chances will be there for FC Dallas in this one, they just need to continue to be aggressive and take advantage of those chances.
Play smart in the back - While Mazatlan has struggled in their early league games in Liga MX, they did find a way to put three goals in against Austin FC in the opening Group Stage game. They forced bad mistakes in the back against Austin and were good enough to finish those chances. The Dallas defense looked better against Necaxa last Tuesday, but there were still moments in space that they were giving up a little too much. That needs to be buttoned up in this match in order to advance.
Don’t look ahead - You have to think that in everyone’s mind, on both sides, the winner has the chance to play against Lionel Messi and Inter Miami (should they win their game against Orlando). FC Dallas players cannot focus on that game, and I would imagine it will be stressed to everyone to only focus on Mazatlan. As awesome as it will be to play against Messi, you have to take care of Mazatlan first.
Truth be told, we’re not getting the same information during this tournament on injuries for other teams as we do during the regular season. Seriously, this tournament has a lot of growing pains to go through.