FC Dallas has spent a little over a week in Arizona as they wrapped up the 2019 preseason in Tuscon, Arizona playing the 2019 Mobile Mini Sun Cup. FC Dallas played 3, 2-to-1 matches coming out as the champions of their trip into the desert.
In a tournament where we saw many different players get some game time, faced varying levels of opposition, and different styles of play, here are some of the takeaways from this trip out to Tuscon.
To put it simply, FC Dallas has depth. Good depth at that. We saw some players that can really step up when asked which will inevitably happen during the long MLS season. We saw the likes of Ferreira get meaningful minutes and scoring 2 goals, saw the capabilities of John Nelson, the skill of Thomas Roberts, and the soundness and composure of Servania and Cerrillo to name a few. This puts FC Dallas in a good position and gives Luchi Gonzalez a good problem to have: who does he play? With many guys wanting to play, the competition for game time will only help the guys grow better as players and as a team. Plus, we get a look at some future FC Dallas stars in the making.
The team, and in particular, Luchi Gonzalez and his coaching staff are growing. Throughout the majority of preseason, we have seen the high press been employed. FC Dallas found success against Seattle Sounders and Real Salt Lake though when facing New York Red Bulls, who similarly played with a high press, Coach Gonzalez was forced to adapt.
In the Seattle game, the high press forced the Sounders to keep the ball moving and when the ball was won back, FCD made smart, meaning passes. The game against Real Salt Lake, FC Dallas was much more dominant and that is was in part to the press and quick passing which opened up space for the midfield and attack. In the Red Bulls game, we got a look at the tactical abilities of Coach Gonzalez. The first half was somewhat hectic with both teams trying to force the other off the ball which result in many balls being headed back and forth, or cleared. Coach Gonzalez looked to slow the tempo of the game in the second half and that seemed to give FCD the time to create chances and see the defensive tendencies of the Red Bulls. Lastly, a key feature throughout these three matches as the ability to keep and play the ball out of the back. The backline holds the ball more and that goes for the keepers as well.
If I were to explain to someone what FC Dallas’ identity this year might be, it will be a quick tempo team that focuses on having the ball, making quick decisive passes, and having the ability to play out of the back. Though, I am interested to see what if Coach Gonzalez does have anything else brewing in his mind in terms of tactics for this team.
Jesus Ferreira really made his case for being MLS ready. Many thought that he would spend his time in USL League 1 with North Texas SC but earning 2 goals and getting player of the tournament really strengthened his case for getting some MLS minutes. He looked comfortable not only in the striker position but also playing on the wing. He took some great shots on goal and it looks like he can be a serious threat coming off the bench in games where a presence is needed up top. Will he get time as the striker up top? Yes, though not very often. I think that we will see more of him on the wings or when we need a pacey option as a sub.
John Nelson. I think he is going to be the next big defensive draft signing that he has. FC Dallas has had some success when it comes to defensive draft picks: Matt Hedges, Walker Zimmerman, Zach Loyd, and Ryan Hollingshead (if you want to count him) are just a few. Nelson has the defensive capabilities, speed, and versatility. We saw him spend time at right back which is great to know that FC Dallas a good option for when Reggie inevitably gets his national team call-ups. John Nelson really has the potential to be a really good MLS defender and it’s great that North Texas SC will give him the play time that he needs to develop when he is not in the first team’s 18.
Pablo Aranguiz played with some fire in his game while he was on the field. In the preseason doubleheader, I felt that Aranguiz was trying too hard though while the intensity was still there, he played more purposeful versus trying to do everything. He was a serious threat on the wings but also got his hands dirty and did some defensive work. Whether this is a result of him trying to raise his stock for a potential loan back to Chile, I would like to think that he is trying to push for a starting role.
Thomas Roberts made his case, at a minimum, to be put on the bench for game days. Minutes after being subbed on, he scored a well-taken goal. His skill on the ball and the ability to create chances and take them was exciting to watch. Roberts has been a player that the club has been high on and we saw why. So much skill and talent there. Also this…
Thinking about how Thomas Roberts, Brandon Servania, Paxton Pomykal, Jesus Ferreira, Ricardo Pepi, Bryan Reynolds, and Edwin Cerrillo are all up and coming and thinking about that team like… pic.twitter.com/My2XpCaI60
— FC Dallas Nation (@FCDalNationDAL) February 16, 2019
I have said it before and I will continue to say it: Bressan is such huge steal for FC Dallas. So professional, experienced, calm, and does not mess around. His ability to win the ball back, make well-timed challenges, and knowing when to go in for the tackle is hard to teach and he is only 26 years old. He is a leader on the field as he was always talking with the defense and with the defensive midfielder in front of him. Every time I talk about Bressan, there’s always Gremio fans letting me know otherwise, but he hasn’t done anything to show us why he isn’t a good player. Again, a steal for the club.
FC Dallas is in good hands and has a very bright future with the young guys coming through. It is hard to believe that the season is almost upon us but it’s only a few more days. Now for some fun: predicting who will start in the season opener. Here’s what I think:
Want to know why I made these choices? Listen to the podcast that will be out Wednesday morning!
Featured Image: FC Dallas