I held a Q/A with Drew Epperly of BigDSoccer, the SB Nation affiliate covering all things FC Dallas. DRew had a few great things to say about his side, but also expressed a few concerns as well. Read below to see what he had to say, and then, head over to their site to see my comments regarding MNUFC.
1.) Before the summer transfer window ended, Dallas saw playmaker Mauro Diaz leave the squad in favor of a move to the Middle East; replacing Diaz is Pablo Aránguiz, a young playmaker out of Chile. Along with Diaz, Midfielder Kellyn Acosta was traded to the Colorado Rapids and In return for Acosta, you received Dominique Badji from the Colorado Rapids. What do you expect from those two players coming in? Do you agree with the transfer of Acosta and the sale of Diaz? Why or why not?
- Let me take this one a player at a time. I’ll start with Mauro Diaz. On the surface, FC Dallas did right by their player by allowing him to leave when they did. The offer came in for Diaz back at the beginning of June and the club worked with him and the team in Dubai to make it happen. Basically, FC Dallas learned from their mistakes from a year ago when transfer offers came in for Michael Barrios and Maxi Urruti and they refused to sell, thus causing some friction with them and the team. Diaz wanted the transfer and it was a great offer for him, somewhere in the $2 million range from what some reports have said. I know there are some folks that say he is worth more than that, but I would imagine that was truly the best offer they could have hoped for a guy that typically spent half of each season hurt.
As for his replacement, Aranguiz, so far the play on the field looks good out of him after one showing. He isn’t a true like-for-like replacement as he has a little more athletic ability than Diaz did. He can also play in a couple different positions, either on the wing for as a withdrawn forward. With the Acosta trade, that one is a little tougher to take in but over time I think most Dallas fans were happy to see the team do right by Kellyn as well. He had lost his passion for the game over the last year and really needed that change of scenery. And so far he is doing well, which does make me happy. The club was smart in this deal too by getting someone that they desperately needed in Dominique Badji. Dallas has struggled to find a really good go-to goal scorer like Badji. He’s always been a guy that I think with the right service, could do wonders in this league.
2.) FC Dallas is atop of the Western Conference table, but has lost two of their last three while also acquiring two red cards in their last four. What needs to change to continue your squads good form while also producing momentum towards a Supporters Shield?
The two-game skid looks bad on paper, but in both games, Dallas was competitive enough to get a result. Oscar Pareja and company don’t really need to change a lot about what they are doing on the field. The defense has to step up a little more, including Jesse Gonzalez in the net, who has not looked great as of late. I think right now, the focus may be really on getting more out of Badji and Aranguiz with this group. Barrios has stepped up a lot in the last few weeks and is finally producing, so for him and Urruti and Roland Lamah, it comes down to finishing their chances. If they do that, this defense is good enough to hold most teams off.
3.) Roland Lamah leads your side in goals this season, scoring 8, while striker Maxi Urruti sits behind him at 6. In total, you have only scored 37 goals in 25 matches this season, yet you are top of the Western Conference. How has FC Dallas been so efficient in closing out games, while only averaging 1.47 goals per game? What has been the “key” to success for your side during this season?
- For the most part, it really has been the defense that has been key in closing games out. Reto Ziegler was a big addition to this group in the offseason, and while he won’t be available on Saturday due to a red card that he picked up last weekend in Seattle, his leadership, and experience in the back has helped close out games along with veteran Matt Hedges. I would also point out that Pareja has done a little better job at man-management this season to help keep guys fresh and rotating in players further down the depth charts this season to keep the competition going within the group.
4.) Predicted Lineup:
Jesse Gonzalez, Marinquhos Pedroso, Maynor Figueroa, Matt Hedges, Reggie Cannon, Carlos Gruezo, Victor Ulloa, Roland Lamah, Pablo Aranguiz, Michael Barrios, Maxi Urruti
Also, it’s gameday. Let’s do this thing, Minnesota. #COYL