The club is wrapping up its first preseason under Luchi Gonzalez with a match on Saturday against the New York Red Bulls. This game is also the last of the Mobile Mini Sun Cup, and FC Dallas will return to Frisco this weekend in preparation for the home opener on March 2nd against the New England Revolution.
The lineup we’ll see on Saturday is probably what we will see on Saturday next week minus any potential injuries during preseason or in the next week. However, the actual starting eleven isn’t crystal clear, and a couple of players still need to push themselves into the main starting eleven.
The Red Bulls, in all likelihood, will not be playing their strongest squad, as they were in the Dominican Republic a couple of days ago for the Champions League. Nonetheless, this game still matters for FC Dallas, and there are a couple of things fans should be watching for.
Bryan Acosta and Jacori Hayes
Yes, he’s a DP. Yes, he arrived a little more than a week ago. It still doesn’t erase the fact that Acosta has not played at a level that is expected of him, due to his salary and status. This game is the perfect opportunity to show fans why he was worth a seven-figure transfer fee.
Hayes, on the other hand, has a lot to play for this weekend. Although he hasn’t always played to an amazing level, you can tell that he is very much capable of playing the 8 role without too many hiccups.
Hayes is expected to be the backup to Acosta during the season, as Acosta will be called up fairly regularly to the Honduran National Team. Still, the late arrival of Acosta spells opportunity for him, especially due to the fact that Acosta hasn’t really been up to it. This might not have implications later down in the year: Acosta is a DP for a reason. Nonetheless, Hayes has the chance of securing the starting role for the next couple of weeks if his performance is better than Acosta’s tomorrow.
Although later denied by Zannota, there are rumors about Aranguiz’s future at the club. Although surprising due to his relatively recent arrival, it’s not that surprising based on his performance during preseason.
Luchi has been playing Aranguiz in a wide playmaker role for the team, a role that Aranguiz does not seem comfortable. He gets isolated in this position, and he isn’t the best at going at defenders and forcing decisions. This change of position is due to Paxton’s performance in the free 10 role.
Maybe Aranguiz is truly on the outs. If he is, it free’s up space for Twumasi or Roberts to take up that attacking sub role. It doesn’t seem like the club is entertaining the transfer. Regardless of the comments from club officials, this type of transfer isn’t really something FC Dallas does to a young player unless they are called Anibal.
So if this transfer isn’t real, Aranguiz needs to perform on Saturday in order to prove his versatility to the coaching staff, something that the coaches seem to care about this season. It does seem like the attacking midfielder position is taken, so Aranguiz needs to adapt if he wants to see significant minutes this season.
Left back has been an interesting conversation this preseason.
Reports of Marquinhos Pedroso still healing from a surgery explained why Hollingshead started the first matches of preseason. Hollingshead did exactly what we’ve seen from him over the past 5 years: play well offensively, play ok defensively. He has shown this preseason his array of abilities, a reason why he has stuck with the club for so long.
Despite his versatility, no one believed Hollingshead was the club’s starting choice at Left Back, and although it has been slow, Pedroso has looked more and more match fit every time he has step foot on a field.
There’s a new player on the field, though.
Even though he has played primarily right back in preseason, SuperDraft pick John Nelson has been the best wingback during preseason. Hollingshead’s performances have fine, Pedroso has still looked a bit hurt and out of form, and Cannon just recently arrived from USMNT. Nelson, on the other hand, has played across the backline during preseason, showing his versatility and ability throughout the month. His quality, although unexpected, isn’t really surprising, as he has played extremely well in the youth systems of the national team.
Let’s not kid ourselves, Nelson will definitely not start against New England, or in the first couple weeks/months of the season. He will, however, put himself in talks of a sub role, and in a position to compete for a starting spot during the regular season.
Like we said, New York will not be starting their first eleven tomorrow. In all likelihood, we will see NYRB II Face off against a full-strength FC Dallas side.
It still is gonna be fun to see the two best academies in the league go head-to-head.
FC Dallas brought many NTXSC (I think, officially, its NTSC) players to Tuscon: Pepi, A Rodriguez, D Rodriguez, among others. In all likelihood, FC Dallas will also be playing some of the academy kids at some point during the game. This is the perfect opportunity to see some of the graduates of the FC Dallas Academy face off against the graduates of the Red Bulls Academy, as North Texas SC will sadly never play the official NYRB II side.
This is the last time we will see the club play before March 2nd, so make sure to tune in tomorrow.
Featured Image: FC Dallas