Preseason is starting next week, and players have already started coming to Frisco to quarantine.
With the 2021 season on the horizon, many positions on the field still do not have a locked-in starter.
Here are some of the more interesting positional matchups to watch out for during preseason.
This position is the one that is the most in-flux. All of the starting left-wingers from last season were transferred or released, except for Dante Sealy. However, this is not the first season where the left side of the field has been a question mark for FC Dallas. When the transfer of Fabian Castillo occurred in 2016, the club has brought in many wingers to fill his shoes, including Roland Lamah, Santiago Mosquera, Edwin Gyasi, and Fafa Picault. None of them have been able to play well consistently, and it seems that this year will be another toss-up.
For some reason, there seems to be a ton of trust and belief in the players brought in this winter offseason. However, none of the left-wingers have a spot secured just yet. Kalil ElMedkarr was prolific in the college game but has not proven himself on the professional stage, just yet. Freddy Vargas played very well in Venezuela, but as FC Dallas knows, players from that league have not transitioned well for the club. Other players also have a shot at starting on the left side of the field, including Paxton Pomykal, Dante Sealy, Ricardo Pepi, Jesus Ferreira, and rumored transfer Szabolcs Schon.
Watch this position battle because the club must get this right. The last time FC Dallas had a quality left winger, they won the double.
Whereas the left-wing position has multiple good options, the right-back position has options that all seem to have downsides.
If fans were honest, the most likely starter on opening night is probably going to be Bressan. Luchi has been known to be extremely cautious when it comes to defense, with Bryan Reynolds not starting for a while when Reggie Cannon left for Portugal. However, most fans have seen Bressan at right-back, and most of them can agree that his skill set does not match the needed requirements for playing fullback in Luchi’s system. Another conservative choice would be to play Hollingshead on the right side and playing Johnny Nelson on the left side. However, the matches that Ryan has played on the right have not looked very pretty.
Most fans want one of two other players to start at the right-back spot: Ema Twumasi or Eddie Munjoma. Twumasi has been molded into a wingback by FC Dallas, much like Bryan Reynolds and Ryan Hollingshead. He looks to be Luchi’s’s swiss army knife for the season, as he played in multiple positions at the end of 2020. He has played right-back before with Austin Bold, and his skillsets certainly match the need in that position. However, Eddie Munjoma seems to have an inside track to the starting spot. He played right-back for North Texas last season, just as Bryan Reynolds did the year prior to his meteoric rise. Furthermore, the club has given Munjoma the #2 jersey, which seems to be a major commitment to the player.
The starting right-back will probably change as the season goes along, but it will be interesting to see who wins it on opening day.
The Midfield Three
There is a chance that no homegrowns will start in the midfield on opening day, which is disappointing considering how many great homegrown midfielders FC Dallas has at their disposal.
The current midfielders Luchi has on the roster are as follows: Andres Ricaurte, Paxton Pomykal, Thiago Santos, Tanner Tessmann, Thomas Roberts, Edwin Cerrillo, Nicky Hernandez (he will probably sign), Bryan Acosta, and Jesus Ferreira.
Now, even if fans assume that Roberts and Cerrillo should go on loan (which they absolutely should), Nicky stays with NTSC for the season, and Jesus will play at the striker position, that still leaves five starting-quality midfielders to pick from. The only natural 10 is Paxton, but his injury record is worrying, and Acosta played pretty well as a high pressing midfielder. Andres Ricaurte is probably locked in as the starting 8, but Tanner has played considerably well in that position. With the exception of Cerrillo, Thiago Santos is the only starting 6 on the roster, but there are concerns about his ability to play a 34-game season. Furthermore, the starting midfield that the fans want is probably way different from what Luchi and the coaching staff want.
Hopefully, there will be a starting three-core that ends up being the go-to for Luchi at some point during the season. Currently, I don’t think any player has a spot secured.
Although many positional battles are more extensive, there is probably none that are more important to this season’s success than the positional battle of the striker spot.
Although many fans did not like Jara’s performance this season, there has to be a consideration for how difficult this year was for the Argentinean. He was forced to move into the US during a pandemic and play in a dense schedule in a system that he could not truly get familiar with. Nevertheless, there will probably be no considerations this year. Both Ferreira and Pepi are starting-caliber strikers, with one of them starting and scoring for the USMNT.
None of them were able to perform at the levels that were expected of them last year. This year, they all need to show something else to become the starter.
Who is super excited for the 2021 season?
Do you think there are other positional battles that were not mentioned?
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