Back in January, we took a look at the four biggest preseason position battles for FC Dallas in 2022. Each month throughout the season, we will review those four battles and see where things stand as the season progresses.
Goalkeeper: Jimmy Maurer vs Maarten Paes
In last month’s column, this position was firmly Paes’, and nothing has changed on that front, even with Maurer making 3 consecutive starts in May. His first start was in the Open Cup loss to SKC, followed up by consecutive MLS starts filling in for Paes, who missed the May west coast road trip due to health and safety protocols. Maurer performed well against the LA Galaxy, only allowing a single goal from a well taken Douglas Costa shot, but his appearance against Vancouver in the following game was a bit tough to watch. Maurer was directly responsible for the second goal conceded which ultimately proved to be the game winner for Vancouver. Maurer returned to the bench once FCD came back home to face Minnesota and, unfortunately for the veteran, doesn’t look likely to get off the bench barring some sort of injury to Paes.
Center back: Jose Martinez vs Nkosi Tafari
Another position battle that was affected by health and safety protocols, Nkosi Tafari stepped in for Martinez while Martinez missed the west coast road trip with the protocols and played quite well in his two appearances. He still isn’t quite there to displace Martinez when the veteran Spaniard is healthy and Martinez is clearly the first choice next to Matt Hedges in the fully healthy first eleven. However, Tafari is clearly an important part of the squad and is the clear 3rd center back. He is the first choice to replace either player if there is an injury or need for rest and rotation and, when he doesn’t start, he is often called upon to help close out games as FCD switch into a more defensive back 3/5 formation. This is still Martinez’s job to lose but Tafari is right there to challenge him.
Right back: Ema Twumasi vs Nanu
After an April that saw both Twumasi and Nanu get a lot of playing time, May almost completely belong to Twumasi with Nanu only starting two games, the Open Cup match against SKC and the away match to Vancouver. Put simply, Nanu just isn’t doing enough to displace Twumasi, who, after a shaky start to the season, has gotten back to what he showed in his breakout 2021 season. I don’t think this battle is totally wrapped up, Twumasi has been good but not totally dominant or always outstanding, but Nanu will need to step up his performance level in his next appearances if he wants to push his way back into the starting eleven.
Defensive midfielder: Facundo Quignon vs Edwin Cerrillo
Similar to the right back battle, a spot that was very back and forth in April seems to have largely fallen to one player with Facu Quignon starting 4 out of the 5 MLS games in May (he was not in the squad for the Open Cup game). This is not really a case of Edwin Cerrillo playing particularly poorly or doing anything wrong, Quignon has simply raised his performances in the past month and made it difficult for the coaching staff to justify not starting him. Interestingly, after his early season status as the starter on the road, the one MLS game he did not start in May was on the road in Vancouver, with Cerrillo playing through that entire game (and conceding a penalty, it should be noted). For now, this looks like Facu’s job to lose, though with the summer heat coming into play along with plenty of games to play over the next couple months, both players will get plenty of chances to stake their claim.
How are you feeling about all of these position battles as FCD gets ready to continue their season following the long international break? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured Image: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports