FRISCO – The Mailbag questions keep rolling on in after another game passes without an FC Dallas win. Let’s dive on in before we shift the focus to Minnesota this weekend.
“What happened to the team from the first third of the season that was leading the league? Same roster, yet different results. #MailbagMonday” – @RedArmyHooligan
A lot has happened since the beginning of the season and although it’s the same roster, it’s been through quite a bit. Take for instance that your Starting XI from the last match – which at the beginning of the season would’ve been likely considered your top choices at each position – was the first time all eleven had started a game together. That doesn’t explain the beginning of the season success vs. the lack there of now, but it does help expose the issue of inconsistency. For the last three or four months, Oscar Pareja has had to start each week putting together a game plan for a different group of starters, be it via National Team call-ups (which have been numerous since late May), injuries to a few of those names, suspensions (for which we will see one player miss next weekend too) or his own decision on player performance.
At the beginning of the year, Dallas’ defense was performing at an incredible rate and the team was winning games by scoring just one or two goals. Now, largely due to the reasons above, the defense has found themselves slumping (aside from a few solid performances including Saturday). But the offense hasn’t picked up the other side of the ball to offset the difference. Dallas’ 39 goals on the year is hovering in the bottom third of the league, but when you consider 10 of those came in two games (6-2 over RSL and 4-2 over D.C.), that number slumps to 29 – with only D.C. and Colorado, the two conference bottom-dwellers, having fewer.
“Why did Hedges give up the arm band? How did that go down?” – @DallasSoccerShow< This is nothing new, my friends at Dallas Soccer Show. Dating back to last season, Matt Hedgesand Mauro Diaz have split time wearing the captain’s armband. It’s Oscar Pareja’s decision from week-to-week who gets to physically wear it, but both are the dual-acting captains of this team. If you look at last season, when FCD won the Open Cup, Diaz was wearing the armband, and when they won the Supporters’ Shield, it was Hedges. I would venture to say that Victor Ulloa is third on that list, often wearing it in the absence of both and translating either’s pregame speech to the other half of the roster.
“Do we stick to the 4-2-3-1 in Minnesota or do we push for a dual-striker formation for Urruti and Colman?” – @TheGlennCanyon
While I agree with the sentiment of adding a second striker given the team’s offensive woes, the thing is takes away from is your defensive shape. Especially on the road, the priority is placed on defense and keeping things clean at the back before committing numbers forward. This team is built to drive through Mauro Diaz and moving away from the 4-2-3-1 inherently means moving away from the Magician. When doing so, Kellyn Acosta presses more into the attacking midfield and therefore leaving one less body in a defensive position. In my mind, defense is what this team has to focus on first.