FC Dallas will be having a preseason doubleheader on Saturday, February 8 at Toyota Stadium. The team will be playing the FC Bayern Munich Junior side and San Antonio FC, a team from the USL Championship, at 2pm and 4pm respectively. This will be the first preseason games that can be seen on the FC Dallas website, and they are also the first set of games in Toyota Stadium in 2019
This Saturday will be the first time for most fans to watch a Luchi-coached FC Dallas in action, and also the first time any of us will see the club play against competitive opposition, as their first couple scrimmages have been against amateur sides. A lot of excitement has circled this game, as many fans are excited to see the team play, as it has been almost 3 months since we last saw a game at Toyota Stadium.
There will be a lot of questions surrounding Luchi’s first year as a professional coach, and many questions that FC Dallas fans want answered. There are a couple of things that fans should keep their eyes on tomorrow
Unlike previously thought, Carlos Gruezo will probably not be leaving Frisco this season, especially since Papi’s Tijuana, who wanted to sign the Ecuadorian, signed midfielder Kevin Balanta earlier this month. Knowing Luchi’s system and style of play, we know that he plays with one main defensive midfielder and one box-to-box midfielder under the creative player. To fill the hole that Ulloa left, the club signed Acosta, who fits that box-to-box role. However, since Acosta just arrived late last night, the club has relied on Brandon Servania.
Brandon has been killing it during preseason. Being one of two (technically three, if you count the recently departed Chris Richards) FC Dallas players to have played in the CONCACAF tournament during January, it is safe to assume that he was more fit and in form than the other midfielders, like Hayes or Roberts. He has been one of the better players these past three weeks, but this will be his first real true test.
Acosta is assumed the starter, and there will be times that the new Designated Player will have to go on international duty with the Honduran National Team. Still, Luchi has committed to the #PlayTheKids movement, and he coached Servania in the past. If he performs really well tomorrow, then we as fans must consider Acosta’s starting role to be in jeopardy.
Paxton Pomykal and Pablo Aranguiz
We are officially in Year 2 of PaxtonWatch.
We thought that last year was going to be the year that Paxton took a step up and became the next American young star. It didn’t go directly to plan, with Paxton receiving fewer minutes last year than he did in 2017. This is one of the few things that angered me during Pareja’s tenure.
Well, Luchi has, as I’ve already stated, sworn that he is out to develop stars, and that whoever is good enough will play. Paxton has been good enough for the past 6 months, as we’ve seen how well he has played with the US U20’s.
Aranguiz plays somewhat of a similar position to Paxton. Although a different type of Number 10, he still is an important asset to the team. We didn’t get to see many minutes of him last year, but that was largely assumed, due to the fact that he came in mid-season and Pareja was known to be rigid in his style and starting eleven.
Both these players have the quality to start. Both these players need to start in order to continue to develop. However, they both can’t start at the same time if Paxton is to be played in the position that suits him best, which is that Number 10 spot.
Luchi has been experimenting some things during preseason, like playing Aranguiz at right midfield. And we already know that Paxton can play multiple positions on the attacking side of the field (you can even convert him to an 8 if you really wanted to). Still, it will be quite interesting to see who is the better player over these two games. Whatever type of argument you see online, both players play better centrally, and they both can’t play it at the same time.
It’s been a week since Bressan arrived from Brazil. The international center back arrived late due to VISA issues and was just recently able to come into the United States. According to reports, he has been a fine player over this past week, which is completely fine, especially since he has just begun to get accustomed to his new surrounding.
I am one of few who believes that Bressan’s role for the time, by the end of the season, will be at a starting role. We all know how amazing Ziegler was for us last year: he came into a previously tumultuous defense and gave it a leading voice with great passing range and ability. Nonetheless, he is 33 years old and has shown moments of lack of speed and awareness (he had the most red cards by anyone on the team, by a decent margin). Bressan, on the other hand, has started for a team that, according to the Copa Libertadores, was the best in South America in 2017 and the 4th best in 2018.
We have all seen the handball. We have all seen the public cheer for him leaving Gremio. That kind of thing happens when you blow it up for your team in the final stage.
You can’t forget about the rest of his performances, though. Yes, he has and probably will continue to do mistakes. That’s fine if he continues to strive to get better. That’s why no one harps on the mistakes that Reggie did last year, like the second goal that we allowed against the Galaxy here at home.
This is the place that he can impress the fans and assure us that he can perform at a good level without messing up everything all the time. These first two games are what they call “first impressions.” It is crucial for his minutes that he gives a good one tomorrow.
Marquinhos Pedroso was a very good player last year. Coming into a team that was already playing in a system, he filled a void that was desperately needed once Nedyalkov left. He did a very good job too: although he wasn’t as explosive and strong as Anton was, Pedroso was more stable and more reliable.
Still, have you seen his wage? And that is only for half a season.
There has been a lot of public discussion on whether or not he is worth that kind of cash. I think that discussion is very important, especially whenever you have a backup like John Nelson.
It is impossible to know the exact salary numbers of players coming out of the draft until the Salary list is released, which won’t be until the end of the season. We also know that Generation Adidas contracts are significantly higher than the wages of draft picks (they range from the 80k mark to nearly 200k).
What we do know is that Nelson has two years guaranteed that are payed for fully by Adidas, which gives the Front Office two good years to inspect the left back and to see whether or not he is worth the Generation Adidas money once the contract expires. The club definitely did not think that of Adonijah Reid, a player many would have loved to have seen him get more of an opportunity in an FC Dallas shirt.
By many accounts, John Nelson is one of the players that has the opportunity to shine for the National Team in a position that is not yet very stable. He was a star for the US U18’s and U20’s over the past couple of years, and he did not miss a single game for UNC-Chapel Hill over his two years in college. He has talent that FC Dallas could start.
This game isn’t really crucial for him: no one that watches this team closely thinks he will displace Pedroso this year. What we should scout for tomorrow is if he has the quality to replace Marquinhos in the future.
It’s not a life or death situation for him tomorrow: he effectively has a two-year trial with the club. He will also definitely see minutes for the club and have significant playtime for NTXSC. It’s just interesting to see a position battle, and Nelson will definitely battle.
Montgomery, Reynolds, Jesse, and Barrios are other players I would keep my eye on during the game, mainly just to see their performances. Also, keep on the lookout for Acosta; he won’t be starting but he might be in the stands.
Hope to see y’all out there tomorrow! Bring a coat!
Featured Image: Ussoccerplayers.com/ US Soccer Communications