On Saturday night, Columbus Crew SC travel to Frisco, Texas to take on FC Dallas. The Hoops are the Western Conference leaders, sitting one point ahead of Sporting Kansas City. It is the only meeting of the season between Dallas and the Black & Gold, so we reached out to our friends at Big D Soccer, and managing editor Drew Epperley, to learn a little bit about FCD.
Questions for Big D Soccer
Massive Report: FC Dallas sits at the top of the Western Conference with only seven games to play in the MLS season. For our readers who don’t watch as many Western Conference games, how has Dallas found success this season?
Big D Soccer: This season has been pretty interesting for FC Dallas fans as they’ve seen this team grow and emerge as a contender. Early on, this team rode a defense that was not allowing much with newcomers Reto Ziegler leading the way in the defense with former Defender of the Year Matt Hedges. There has also been some good consistency in in the midfield with Carlos Gruezo and Victor Ulloa helping lock down things in front of the back four. But for some folks, the biggest thing in the defense has been the emergence of Homegrown Reggie Cannon, who has become the team’s rock in the back.
Outside of that, the offense has seen a lot of changes between having Mauro Diaz do Mauro Diaz type things in the attack, to transferring Mauro Diaz out to a team in the Middle East, trading Kellyn Acosta to the Colorado Rapids for Dominique Badji and finding a Diaz-type replacement for the future in Pablo Aranguiz. Let’s just say there hasn’t been a dull moment in watching this club figure out what they want to do in the attack.
MR: Looking at the FCD stats, it’s clear things in both the goal scoring and assists department have been rather spread out with five players with at least four goals and five players with at least four assists. Has this been the strategy of Oscar Pareja this year or just how things worked out?
BDS: I’ve been saying a lot this season that Pareja may truly have depth at nearly every position for the first time since coming to Dallas as a manager. This is allowing him to rotate guys, keep players fresh and create a deeper competition within each position that wasn’t really there before. Because of all that, we’re seeing different guys step up from week to week. Take Michael Barrios or Maxi Urruti for instance, both were doing very well last year but had a lot of quiet moments early on this season up until the last month where both have flourished.
MR: What are the minimum expectations for Dallas this year in terms of the team’s final place in standings and how far they go in the postseason?
BDS: I said at the beginning of the year that this could be a playoff team if everyone stayed healthy and luck went their way more than once. Right now, with seven games to go, the expectation is not only that this team is a playoff team but one that is in a top seed with home field advantage.
To see Massive Report’s answers to Big D Soccer’s questions, check out their Three Questions story.