On Wednesday, June 7th, FC Dallas and St Louis CITY SC will play out a bizarre 40 minute match to complete a game that started a month ago. This week, we’ll look at how FC Dallas might handle this unprecedented situation.
Games being postponed for weather related reasons is nothing new or unforeseen across MLS or for FC Dallas in particular. FCD has a number of notable weather delay games, including a game against Toronto FC that famously finished well after midnight at Toyota Stadium. But this one is a bizarre and strange situation for everyone involved. FCD and St Louis kicked off way back on May 6th, playing out 50 minutes of a 0-0 draw before relentless thunderstorms forced the game to be postponed to a future date. With St Louis set to play in the US Open Cup just a few days later on May 9th, the typical option of finishing the game the following morning was unavailable. With other midweek games on the schedule throughout the rest of the month, the best possible time to finish the game was determined to be over a month after the game started, on June 7th.
So how does this all work? MLS has their “Match Postponement Policy” posted online but basically these are the big things:
- The game resumes exactly how it left off. In this case, that should be an FC Dallas free kick following a Tim Parker foul and yellow card.
- The same players who were on the field will be on the field for each team, along with the same substitutes on the bench.
- There are not any additional substitutions allowed. In this case, FCD will have two substitution windows after having subbed Paul Arriola off in the first half and St Louis will have all three of their windows available.
Of course, this leads to the obvious question: what happens if one of the players who was on the field is hurt and can’t play? This has, unfortunately, become an especially prescient question for the Burn, who are facing a bit of an injury crisis. What MLS allows is for a player who was on the field but can not play to be replaced by a player who was on the bench without being forced to use one of the substitution windows.
When the game was postponed, FCD had the following players on the field playing in a 4-4-2:
- GK: Maarten Paes
- RB: Geovane Jesus
- RCB: Sebastien Ibeagha
- LCB: Jose Martinez
- LB: Marco Farfan
- RM: Sebastian Lletget
- CM: Facundo Quignon
- CM: Paxton Pomykal
- LM: Jader Obrian
- ST: Jesus Jimenez (replaced Paul Arriola in the first half)
- ST: Jesus Ferreira
With the following players on the bench: Jimmy Maurer, Ema Twumasi, Sam Junqua, Nolan Norris, Edwin Cerrillo, Tsiki Ntsabeleng, Bernard Kamungo and Alan Velasco.
Right away, looking at the eleven players who were on the field, you can see two huge issues: Sebastian Lletget and Paxton Pomykal, both of whom have been out for recent games with neither seeming likely to be able to go play a tough 40 minutes against a team that presses high and tops the western conference.
There are two clear replacements available for Lletget and Pomykal on the bench: Edwin Cerrillo and Alan Velasco. These two will slot naturally into the 4-4-2 FCD were already set up in and the 4-4-2 they played recently against Nashville and Sporting KC.
Dropping those two players from the bench allows FCD to replace them as well, with Nkosi Tafari, who was injured when the teams originally kicked off an obvious choice. The other choice likely depends on whether or not Twumasi is able to play if needed. If he can’t go, Herbert Endeley seems the most likely option but if he is available, FCD may choose to bring Jose Mulato onto the bench with Ferreira and Jimenez both already on the field.
For the opponents, as far as I can tell, they should be able to resume the game with the same eleven players who were on the field back on May 6th. Dallas does get a slight boost in that the lineup that St Louis rolled out against Dallas is no longer their favored lineup based on recent matches, though with all their sub windows available, St Louis may quickly make a substitution to switch into something closer to what they’ve been doing recently on their 3 game winning streak in which they’ve outscored their opponents 10-1.
Beyond the lineups, the game should prove to be a bizarre affair in general. Back when the game was originally played, it was one of the best crowds of the entire year at Toyota Stadium, but a 40 minute game on a Wednesday night is not likely to pull a large returning crowd, which seems likely to lead to an awkward atmosphere and a largely empty stadium. The game may end up feeling like one of the post-COVID games back in 2020 where the crowd capacity was massively limited. It will also surely be bizarre for the players, getting prepared as normal but playing less than a full half. The state of the game surely seems to benefit St Louis, whose intense pressing style will get a massive boost from the St Louis players only having to play 40 minutes. Back when the game was originally played, it seemed that FCD might be able to outlast the press and get St Louis into a spot where they were not able to press as intensely due to tired legs. That won’t be the case on Wednesday as the St Louis players should be able to easily press high and hard for the entirety of the 40 minutes.
This will be a huge challenge for Dallas, who are on a two game losing streak and desperately need to stop the rot in their last home game before July 1st. Normally a home draw would feel like a bad result, but with the injury crisis, the bizarre nature of the game and St Louis’ quality and current run of form, it certainly seems like taking a point would feel like a good result for Dallas. Regardless of what happens, it will surely be an experience that everyone involved won’t quickly forget.
What are your thoughts on how FC Dallas might handle the bizarre circumstances of Wednesday’s clash against St Louis? Let me know in the comments below!
Featured Image: LM Otero/AP