A lot has changed for both teams since the Philadelphia Union and FC Dallas last met in Frisco last season. Drew Epperley of Big D Soccer gets us caught up on some of the changes that have occurred since the 2-0 loss in Texas. You can see my answers to Drew’s questions over on Big D Soccer.
FC Dallas in a way went the Philadelphia Union route and hired a former academy coach as the new head coach in the offseason. What’s the transition been like for the club?
So far it has been pretty solid. Luchi Gonzalez has brought in a system and style of play that the team has really taken to. He shifted this group from a counter attack type team into one that loves to possess the ball and find lots of passing lanes to break their attacking players free behind a defense.
FC Dallas has long been a leader in terms of signing homegrown players but minutes haven’t always been easy to come by. What’s changed and how would you describe the make-up of the roster beyond the homegrowns?
In the past it was some what down to the player and how well they could progress in the system. Other times, it came down to the manager (either Schellas Hyndman or Oscar Pareja) not being comfortable in giving the younger guys minutes when they easily could have. The difference with this group is that Gonzalez has coached so many of these players at one point or another, so he is familiar with what they can do and bring to the table. Also, his system is more fitting for a younger player that has more energy to burn.
Lastly, I think the timing is just right for this group to pick this moment and make it their own. You see guys like Paxton Pomykal and Jesus Ferreira making headlines for showing us things in league games that we’ve seen for years on the academy front.
Both players who scored against the Union last season have departed. Who are the biggest goal-scoring and creative threats in the starting XI and off the bench that will challenge the Union backline, which kept clean sheets in each of the last two games?
Right now you have to look at both Ferreira and Pomykal for what they are starting to do in the attack but you can never count out Michael Barrios and what he brings to the group. His speed and ability off the ball makes him a threat in a counter attack but he’s also a key guy in facilitating things as well.
If it comes to it, off the bench we could see newcomer Zdenek Ondrasek make an impact with his size and ability to hold up play up front.
Are there any injuries to report for Dallas? What is your projected starting XI and score prediction?
Right now there are a pair of long-term injuries to discuss with Cristian Colman and Francis Atauhene. Both are set to return to training in the next month or two. Aside from them, Dominque Badji will miss this game due to a hamstring injury.
Lineup: Jesse Gonzalez, Reggie Cannon, Matt Hedges, Reto Ziegler, Ryan Hollingshead, Carlos Gruezo, Paxton Pomykal, Bryan Acosta, Pablo Aranguiz, Jesus Ferreira, Michael Barrios
Score: This one feels like a 1-1 draw to me as both teams look like an even match for one another right now.