Saturday means another day of Columbus Crew SC action. This week, the Black & Gold are at home, hosting FC Dallas. Both Major League Soccer original sides are out to the exact same starts, after 1-1 draws on opening day and 2-0 wins last week. To get a better sense of who and what the Hoops are in 2019, we turned to our friend Drew Epperley of Big D Soccer for some great insight.
Massive Report: For Crew fans who haven’t paid much attention to FC Dallas’ offseason, what is different from last year when it comes to the player side of things? Who should they be watching for on Saturday?
Big D Soccer: For starters, FC Dallas has a new manager in Luchi Gonzalez who came up from the academy side of things. So far this season, he’s brought in a new system and look with a 4-3-3 formation that has brought more emphasis on possession and play out of the back. That system leans more on the team building play up and passing the ball around more so than just bombing it forward to the wings like we’ve seen in previous years.
Right now, I’d watch out for guys like Paxton Pomykal, a young Homegrown who is starting to leave his mark on the club as their new playmaker in the midfield. Last week against LA he picked up his first assist on a wonderful goal scored by newcomer Bryan Acosta. Speaking of Acosta, the Honduran international is the club’s biggest DP signing to this day and he has already found himself in a good position with the team as a two-way midfielder that can link up with the defense and help facilitate the attack.
MR: Luchi Gonzalez takes over for Oscar Pareja after three years as an Academy coach. What can you tell us about Dallas’ new coach? How much will he change from Pareja’s long tenure?
BDS: Gonzalez brings a nice youthful vibe to Dallas as he is one of the youngest coaches in MLS right now. He wants the system, look and formation to be consistent from youth sides to the first team, which is why we’re seeing the 4-3-3 now as opposed to the 4-2-3-1 that we learned to live with under Oscar Pareja. Gonzalez also is more comfortable in throwing out some of the younger Homegrown players out of the gate here this season too. He’s already brought in Pomykal to the starting lineup with TAM players backing him up on the bench and we’re starting to see other teenage players like Edwin Cerrillo and Jesus Ferreira earn minutes. He’s not afraid to give them their due and show the league what they’re made of here.
MR: A draw and a win, both at home, to start 2019 season for Dallas. What’s the feeling around the team early on this year? What are the expectations for the season?
BDS: I believe a lot of us expected some growing pains under Gonzalez and we got that in the first game when he didn’t start Pomykal. Gonzalez also was a little slow to getting subs into that first game but he does appear to be learning quickly that he may need to go to his bench sooner rather than later in games already. But overall, I think this team is exactly where people thought they’d be after two home games. Some may be disappointed in the draw to New England but four points is still something to build on here.
As far as the season expectations, I don’t think many are expecting a conference title or anything major just yet but this should still be a playoff team in the Western Conference, they’re experienced enough to get that far in my mind and anything less than that would be a big disappointment.
To read Massive Report’s answers to Big D Soccer’s questions, read their Three Questions piece on the upcoming match.