All signs point to an imminent departure to Portugal for homegrown defender Reggie Cannon. This week, we’ll take a look at the candidates within the current FC Dallas squad to replace him at right-back.
For the immediate future, versatile defender, and usual starting left-back, Ryan Hollingshead, seems to be the obvious choice. Indeed, in the last two games against Minnesota United and Sporting Kansas City that Cannon did not feature in, Hollingshead was shifted over to the right-back position with John Nelson taking up his usual position on the right.
To this point, the combination has been reasonably effective, making up half of a defensive group that has only allowed 2 goals in 2 games.
Nelson, especially, has impressed at left-back, making a myriad of clutch defensive plays in the 1-1 draw away to SKC.
Hollingshead, however, has not looked like his usual self playing at right-back. This is a trend that stretches back to last year as well, as Hollingshead did make a handful of appearances at right-back during the 2019 season and never looked particularly comfortable on that side, at least not compared to how he typically plays on the left. Versatility is one of Hollingshead’s strong suits, having been an attacking winger in his days at UCLA, but if he is unable to raise the standard of his performances at right-back, Luchi Gonzalez may be looking at his other options sooner rather than later.
19-year-old homegrown Bryan Reynolds has been seen as the heir apparent at the right-back position for some time now and the club has reportedly shown their faith in him with a new 4 year, $2 million contract.
Breaking #DTID News:
2 things. (Probably related?)
1. Reggie Cannon has left town. Heading to Portugal, I'm told. He will not be with FCD this weekend say my sources.
2. Bryan Reynolds has agreed terms on a new contract with #FCDallas. 4 years, approx. $2 mil combined.
— 3rd Degree (@3rdDegreeNet) August 28, 2020
Similar to Hollingshead in that he came onto the scene as an attacker rather than as a fullback, Reynolds has largely been used as a utility player to this point in his MLS career, being regularly used as a second-half substitute by Luchi Gonzalez in 2019 and making his first start as a winger late in the season. That trend has continued in 2020, with Reynolds being subbed on to help defend a lead against Minnesota and to help earn a point against Sporting KC, both times coming on to play as more of a winger or wingback than a typical right back.
It seems that in this bizarre season that Reynolds may continue to be used more as a utility player than as a starter at right-back but with a congested schedule looming, Reynolds is also likely due to make at least a couple of starts at right-back. When that does happen, it will be one of the storylines to watch for within the club to see if he is able to make a quick impact and lay claim to the position as so many around the club expect.
Although typically a center back, Bressan was Luchi Gonzalez’s go-to at right-back in 2019 when Reggie Cannon was unavailable. Bressan even started at right-back, moving Cannon to the right-wing, in the playoffs against Seattle. That being said, Bressan has not yet been used at right-back in 2020, with Gonzalez attempting to diversify his tactics and work in a back 3, meaning Bressan has seen most of his time coming as one of the 3 center backs in that back 3.
Outside of an injury substitute to work into the center back pairing in the back 4, as we saw in the first part of the second half against Sporting Kansas City, the back 3 seems like it will be Bressan’s most likely source of playing time.
However, given his history at right-back in 2019, Bressan is possibly only an injury or two away from being thrust back into things at right-back, especially if the FC Dallas staff feels Bryan Reynolds isn’t quite ready in 2020.
At this point, we’re moving into a pretty unlikely territory and players that would likely only factor in the case of injuries forcing them into the lineup. A homegrown out of SMU, Munjoma would have likely been a regular with North Texas SC if 2020 were a remotely normal season. But with the pandemic protocols in place, movement from the first team down to NTSC has been limited and Munjoma is stuck in a bit of no man’s land in his spot in the squad.
Without injuries forcing him into the lineup, Munjoma’s best time for action this season would seem to be as a late-game sub or as a rotation starter due to players needing to be rested due to schedule congestion. Sadly for Munjoma, he’ll likely need to look to the 2021 season as his chance to take a step forward and factor into the first-team squad.
The chances of John Nelson lining up at right-back in 2020 are quite slim, but he was mentioned as an option at the position by Luchi Gonzalez in a recent media call.
Luchi call: talking options mentions Ryan, Nelson, Reynolds, Munjoma, and Bressan… and even formation swaps.
— 3rd Degree (@3rdDegreeNet) August 28, 2020
Nelson is certainly primarily a left-back, but the thinking behind him potentially playing on the right would be an effort to get Ryan Hollingshead back to his more comfortable left-back position. If Gonzalez feels that the team is better served to have Hollingshead playing the spot in which he was one of the best in the league in 2019, that could be caused to move Nelson, who has been very good in his playing time in 2020, to the right.
Nelson isn’t fully two-footed but is certainly not dependent on his left foot. It would be fascinating to see if Gonzalez would consider a mid-game tactical switch of the fullbacks, similar to the regular winger switching we see used by the club. Whether on the left or the right, Nelson looks poised to be a regular for the remainder of the 2020 season.
Rounding out our list is the absolute biggest long shot of all in Honduran midfielder Bryan Acosta.
Technically, Acosta probably shouldn’t be on this list as his inclusion is based on a Luchi Gonzalez comment in the media about potential options at right wing-back in a 3-5-2.
Luchi says Bryan Acosta is an option in a 3-5-2 system should Reggie Cannon not be available (aka, sold this weekend). #FCDallas
— Drew Epperley (@wvhooligan) August 28, 2020
That possibility does raise a broader idea within the club though, the possibility of shifting to the 3-5-2 as the primary formation in 2020. This doesn’t seem to be the case to this point as in recent games Dallas has started in their typical 4-3-3 shape, but in each game since the restart, the team has deployed the 3-5-2 or 3-4-3 at some point in the game, whether at the start against Nashville or in an effort to close out a game against Minnesota. Acosta at right wing-back is a massive long shot, but FC Dallas fans have certainly not seen the last of the back 3.
Who should fill Reggie Cannon’s shoes for the rest of 2020?
Should Bryan Reynolds be thrust into the spot at a young age or should Luchi stick with the veteran Hollingshead and work the kids in slowly?
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