The first game of the 2018 season is over. It wasn’t a bad performance, nor was it a great one. Oscar was recently quoted saying,
“Right now, we're just having this week to kind of turn the page and get everybody on the same page, recover some of the players who have been injured, and all those things are important. At the same time, we are trying to lift ourselves back into league play.”
This mirrors my thoughts on where the team should be. A few related talking points from my perspective:
Hollingshead or Figueroa on at left back?
This point doesn’t directly apply to the first game, as Hollingshead had to be a backup for Cannon, who looked like he was tiring in the second half, and we also needed cover from a potential RSL counter-attack. However, back up at left back is a headache for Oscar, as Nedyalkov is the obvious choice when fit. Figueroa took care of his defensive left back duties, but he left Mosquera isolated. Don’t agree with me? Compare his performance with the overlap and support Cannon gives Barrios on the right wing. Hollingshead can provide that, but it comes with defensive liability. Fingers crossed that Nedyalkov is back for Seattle after coming through Saturday's scrimmage. The concerning part is with Nedyalkov is that Achilles tendinitis is often a recurring issue, and this isn't the Bulgarian's first brush with this type of day-to-day issue.
Hayes in the starting lineup?
After a tough game the Wednesday before, there were a few tired legs on the field. Diaz and some others started to gas late into the second half. Enter Mr. Hayes: first chance since last year when he was sent off, and boy did he take it. Hayes put in a man-of-the-match performance and has, in my opinion, cemented himself in the starting lineup while Acosta is out. That said, one game does not make a regular starter, as Tesho, Ulloa, and others have found out. Hayes will have to follow up the season opener performance with another good one against Seattle.
As I mentioned in my previous post, there’s flexibility with formation switch for our squad. You’ll recall that we started with a 4-2-3-1:
After the team started to tire, Oscar took off Diaz for Colman, Cannon for Hollingshead, and Lamah for Mosquera, and switched the formation to a 4-4-2:
The switch worked, and we managed to tie the game (albeit from an own goal, but under those circumstances, Colman would have started his tally if Silva hadn’t put the ball in his own net).
The Seattle game is one we should expect to win. They should be tired from their midweek game against the legendary Chivas, and they will probably rest a few starting players. There will be no excuses for our team not to excel, and I’m sure Oscar will be saying as much to the team before the game. For those that think midweek games don’t really impact players’ performances, see Seattle’s and Toronto’s home opener losses.
In other news…
A big shout-out to Dallas Beer Guardians organizers for the incredible 24-hour tailgate, the tifo, and the chili cook-off! Also, I would to like to thank you for making us Austinites feel welcome. I will be up for the Philly Union game April 21st for my birthday and look forward to celebrating with you.
Good luck to Coy Craft with his signing to USL team Miami FC. He has a great manager to help him develop with Paul Dalglish (us Austinites are familiar with him after his stints with the Austin Aztex). Both Miami and Daglish are accustomed to success, so if Coy can take most of his chances he will be rewarded. We could very well see him back in the MLS in a few years. Coy, a former U-20 US international, proves that sometimes youth players, regardless of potential, don’t always break into the first team quickly.
For those interested in our youth academy, we have two massive tournaments coming up: U-17s Generation adidas Cup and Dr. Pepper Dallas Cup, in which FC Dallas won the U-19 Gordon Jago Super Group last year. After watching both tournaments in the past, it can be said that both provide a good sense of how good our youth academy is. Dallas will be facing top academies from around the world; previously, we’ve had results like beating Everton 4-0 in the U-19 age bracket. The Dallas Cup could feature Pomykal, Servania, Reynolds, and Ferreira, who are all on pro-contracts if, like last season, professional team players are picked for big youth international tournaments. Another two youth players to look out for are Brayan Padilla and Thomas Roberts. Padilla was named Central Conference Player of the Year for the 2017 US Soccer Developmental Academy, and rightly so, as he scores for fun. Roberts is just my type of player: tricky on the ball, good feet, and with fantastic vision for a player his age.
Charlie Davies has hung up his boots. For those that know his story, Davies is both a tragic and inspiring figure. When his career was on the up, he was scoring goals in Europe and was about to go to the World Cup; then it was all derailed by a head-on car crash that he was lucky to survive. Davies somehow managed to get back to playing, and although he never reached his previous heights, he was an important player for New England. More recently, he was diagnosed with cancer, and he beat that too! Hopefully, Davies will stay involved with the game and use his incredible experiences to coach our younger generation of players.
Bosca La Forma,
Marcus Aurelius Wrightus