For only the second time in 2020 and well the second time in like a week and a half Minnesota United FC will face off with FC Dallas. So this time we went on a scouting mission and talked with Drew Epperley over at our sister site Big D Soccer to get a little insight before Wednesday night’s clash in St. Paul.
E Pluribus Loonum: FCD had an incredible preseason going 6-2-1 (W-L-D) but since then you’ve gone just 2-1-4. I know it’s been a while since the initial preseason but what’s changed since then and how can Dallas look to get back on track as we look towards Phase Two of the resumed season?
Big D Soccer: I will admit, even the prospect of thinking all the way back to what this group was like in preseason seems weird to me. From what I do recall of that time, head coach Luchi Gonzalez was experimenting a lot with his lineups and his formations to prepare for this season. We’re getting even more of that now as the team is back on the field and is playing actual, meaningful games again. From that is the expansion of his offense under those new looks and formations. Defensively, this team is showing up well as they’re still one of the top defenses in the league with guys like Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler leading the way. But getting their offense back to a place that fans want to see has been a struggle so far in this season reboot. Part of that is the number of back-to-back games on the schedule and part of that is getting guys like Franco Jara up to speed in the league. Thankfully Jara got his first goal last week in KC and has been showing well enough to find more chances in front of the goal.
EPL: Unlike most teams, FC Dallas did not take part in the MLS Is Back tournament? What were you’re thoughts on the team dropping out of the tournament and how have the extra games against Nashville SC effected FCD?
BDS: From a Dallas perspective (and probably a Nashville one too), the Orlando tournament was a complete and utter mess for the club. We had gotten word that there was a chance going into the tournament of a player or two that tested positive but it wasn’t truly until they got there that we all know the numbers went crazy. But I will say, I think that experience brought this group closer together than they anticipated. The locker room seems to be a lot tighter nit, which you don’t always get in the middle of the summer these days.
EPL: While the teams did just meet a little over 10 days ago a lot can change in that time period. Who would you say are three key players Minnesota United has to watch out for and why?
BDS: A lot has certainly changed for FC Dallas since the last meeting between these two sides. Injuries have piled up for the team, unfortunately. Paxton Pomykal is now out for the rest of the season with a hip injury. We’re still waiting to see if Jimmy Maurer, Bryan Acosta, Matt Hedges, Brandon Servania, and Fafa Picault are still healthy enough to go here. I’d say one player that we’re all excited to see get on the field and make an impact is recently signed midfielder Andres Ricaurte. While he just arrived recently and began training last week, I have to think this is the game that we see him make his debut in the midfield. If he is even half as good as his numbers in South America suggest (he lead the Colombian first division in assists last season), then we should see more quality balls in for Jara, Michael Barrios, and Jesus Ferreira to get on the end of here.
Don’t forget to head over to Big D Soccer to check out Ashle’s answers to Drew’s questions as well.