Daniel Robertson, of SB Nation's FC Dallas blog Big D Soccer, and I discussed tonight's Dallas-Philadelphia Union game. We differed on score, player of the game and a lot of other things, but we seemed to agree on Andrew Jacobson. Odd.
Big D: Going be an interesting match. If I remember right, Fabian Castillo absolutely murdered the Union earlier this year in 'frisco. He had a goal and assist, but won't be there tonight because he's playing in the under-20 World Cup with Colombia.
tBG: He flew by defenders and out jumped people 5+ inches taller than him
Big D: He's a beast, getting him back next week will be like making one of the best midseason signings in the league. People forget how much talent Dallas has in attack coming back within the next 6 weeks
tBG: Who else returns?
Big D: Ferreira [last year's MVP], Castillo, Shea, Chavez, Maicon Santos.
tBG: Ferreira is back? Wow.
Big D: Well hes back to rehabbing at training. It will be another 4-6 weeks before he's fit.
tBG: How does Hyndman manage to balance attack and defense when he reintroduces him?
Big D: That's a good question. You'll probably see mostly straight swaps/upgrades. Right now Ricardo Villar is the attacking mid. He's doing well but no where near Ferreira's level. That will be a straight swap. I'm not sure where Castillo will fit in quite yet, but there's so many games coming up with USOC and CCL and everything that there will be enough time for everyone.
tBG: It'll be Jacobson's first time back in Philly since the early preseason
Big D: AJ is going to be up for this match for sure. Do you think Adu will make the bench?
tBG: Nowak said at today's press conference that he'll be part of the gameday 18.
Big D: Awesome, though I'm skeptical. I find it hard to believe he was any better than he was back in his last run with MLS.
tBG: He's better. His time in Turkey has changed him for the better, thankfully. Is he a world beater? No. If he's truly 22 he has a chance to be a difference maker in 2014 if he continues along on the right path.
Big D: Personally I wouldn't be comfortable with spending the money Philly is on such a question mark, but hey it's not my money. You know tomorrow is the first game Dallas has played with a full week's rest in a month. 1 win in the last 6 for the Union what's the deal with that?
tBG: Sigh. I don't have a good answer to this one. You can blame it on finishing, but you can't ignore the lack of proper width play. Some of it comes down to poor substitution decisions.
Big D: I think Philly will get Dallas' best shot on Saturday, simply because they finally had a week to recooperate.
tBG: I think that's a good way of putting it. The Union are still short on players and without any depth on defense if an injury happens.
What line up are you thinking for the game from the Dallas POV?
Big D: Same lineup as the LA game except Andrew Jacobson in the middle instead of Bruno Guarda. Maicon Santos lone striker, D. Hernandez, AJ, Villar center midfield trio, Shea on the left Chavez on the right, Benitez, John Ugo, Loyd and Kevin Hartman.
tBG: Speaking of Santos, how has he been for Dallas since coming over in a trade from TFC?
Big D: He's money. Santos can hold the ball up and he had a quote saying "It's nice to play with a midfield who knows how to play football."
tBG: That's a dagger to TFC
Big D: Maicon is exactly what Dallas needed, a guy they can play the ball up to who is not easily muscled by defenders and knows how to pass the ball.
tBG: Gee, that sounds like what the Union had with Alejandro Moreno last year.
Big D: I like Moreno. What about Philly? What's their lineup?
tBG: Since I don't think Adu will start, due to a lack of playing time and match fitness; 4-1-3-2
(GK) Faryd Mondragon; (D L-R) Gabriel Farfan, Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Sheanon Williams; (M L-R) CDM/holding CM Brian Carroll, Keon Daniel, Kyle Nakazawa, Michael Farfan; (FW) Danny Mwanga, Sebastien Le Toux. The midfield is always a crap shoot beyond Carroll.
Big D: I can remember Carroll was absolutely awful against Dallas last time. Seems like he's either great or awful.
tBG: He's been solid since that fateful day. His best games are when he can interchange with an attacking defender and provide cover as almost a fifth defender. Then he moves out of the defensive area and starts distributing.
If he does that, the Union are in a good position to win.
Big D: I look at that Union team and I don't see a lot of size in the midfield. I guess Keon Daniel has some but has that been a problem?
tBG: You probably never will under Nowak
Big D: Man when Schellas came in and sent the whole team packing you could bet on one of two things:
he's going to go for people with size or speed. If you don't have one of those two, forget it.
tBG: Nowak seems to favor very versatile players. Typically they're smaller, at least the ones he finds.
Big D: It's truly amazing to me how he saw no room for Andrew Jacobson. AJ is one of the most important players on FCD.
tBG: He also changed his position.
Big D: At a low price, traded for basically nothing... shocking. When I say low price I mean salary cap hit.
tBG: Jacobson was never a box-to-box MF elsewhere, was always being tinkered with in DCU and Philly.
No one knew where his best place was. Apparently it's as a box-to-box guy.
Big D: Schellas had the bright idea of actually talking to his coach in college.
tBG: The disconnect between college and MLS was never more evident than in the case of Jacobson.
Big D: Well like I said I really expect Dallas' best effort tomorrow, the batteries are recharged.
tBG: This is going to be a game of high expectations for the Union, giving Dallas some help.
Big D: With LA off, Dallas absolutely has to get three points to have any chance at the Supporters Shield.
tBG: And the Union need three points to stay on pace in the East.
Big D: This should be a good one.
tBG: Your predicted player of the game, on either side?
Big D: Andrew Jacobson.
tBG: I really wouldn't put it past him.
Big D: Nah, it will probably be Shea.
tBG: If Castillo was back for this game, I'd say he would have the best shot.
Big D: Look out for Jackson as a second half impact sub. He picked up an injury against Alianza and missed last Saturday's game in LA but made the trip to Philly.