Dear Roland: I Was Wrong About You
When I looked at the starting lineup and saw Lamah in for Mosquera, I scratched my head a bit. I was hoping to see Nedyalkov and Mosquera get a bit of chemistry going, and I’ve never been slow to complain about Lamah being hopeless. But he proved me wrong. He proved me SO wrong. There, I said it, and I hate being wrong. At least he proved a lot of other people wrong, too.
Nedyalkov and Lamah’s chemistry was a joy to watch. They looked like they’ve been playing together for years. That got me thinking: was Lamah’s lackluster first season caused by a failure to identify the right Left Back? Was Chala supposed to be what Nedyalkov has shown thus far? Judging from the third goal, there might be something to that. Quick passing, good movement, and a lovely through ball.
Another potential reason for Lamah’s man-of-the-match performance is competition in the form of Mosquera; he’s not going to take long to get started once given a chance. Lamah has made that position his, for now, and he’s going to have to put in performances like that one more often.
Seattle didn’t do themselves any favors this game, or I should say, Dempsey didn’t do Seattle any favors. VAR might help us out this year, and deservedly so, since we’ve been on the wrong side of some very questionable decisions (I’m still angry about that Philly game!). Dempsey deserved his red card, so VAR worked out for us, finally. Back in the day, you could get away with some serious nutcracking.
Not only did Dempsey put his team down a man, Seattle were already without Will Bruin, Nico Lodeiro, Jordan Morris and, most importantly, Ozzie Alonso. Alonso has been an unsung hero of Seattle, and they don’t have another good defensive midfielder to replace him. His absence gave Diaz the freedom to roam in front of Seattle’s back line. Give Diaz too much time on the ball, and he will punish you (see the first goal). This speaks to our next game against the depleted and rebuilding Portland Timbers, who might not have a fit Diego Chara. Without their defensive midfielder, they could experience the same Diaz we saw against Seattle.
Playing positively is something I really want from Papi, that and giving our kids a chance. For the Seattle match, he did both. Last year we missed out on the playoffs because we didn’t have enough wins. Most leagues use goal difference as a tiebreaker for teams equal on points in the league. We’re better off being positive and offensive; it’s better to risk losing for a higher probability of winning. The 3-5-2 was too negative, it played like a 5-3-2, with the Wing Backs playing like Full Backs. Oscar has corrected this, switching to four at the back, which has been a lot better for us going forward.
Another positive was the subs (Shout out to Austin for being Nostradamus with calling the substitutes!). Pomykal came on for Hayes in the 68th minute when we were already 3-0 up. In the past, Oscar has been guilty of putting on a defensive-minded player instead of going for the jugular, which has cost us points. Paxton is an attacking midfielder, and the reason we don’t see him more often is because Diaz is in his preferred position. Regardless, Pomykal impressed me. He looked the part with some bright movement, passing, and touches. He is the future number 10, and if Diaz stays fit, we can expect a bigger club to come after him; so, that future for Paxi might not be too far away. We should expect to see him fill in for Diaz a decent amount this season.
In Other News...
The USL are thinking of introducing relegation and promotion with the addition of a third division. Although it’s not the massive undertaking of making MLS a pro/rel league, I think it’s a good step forward. It also got me thinking about how it could encourage investment in USL teams and what it would take for MLS ownership groups to be ok with that. Right now, most MLS teams either have an affiliate or run a USL team. Here’s a plan that might make sense: the MLS teams could sell off a USL spot to another city before agreeing to pro/rel. That way, the fees that the ownership for the likes of Nashville, Minnesota, Miami, LAFC, NYCFC, and Orlando paid to join the league, not to mention advertising, stadiums, etc., could be recouped. We’re talking A LOT of investment from these groups: $150 million to join the league. Of course, the USL would have to prove that, even if a team is relegated, the fans will still be interested enough in the team with hopes of promotion. Also, more emphasis would need to be put on the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup. Like the FA Cup, it allows non-league and semi-pro teams to compete with MLS teams. So, if you want pro/rel in the US, watch your USL team, and support them in the Open Cup.
Speaking of the USL affiliation, the New York Red Bulls seem to be a pip ahead now in getting their youth ready to play in the MLS. In the past few seasons, they’ve lost Sacha Kljestan and Dax McCarty, both legends of the club. Yet an 18-year-old Tyler Adams was ready to step in the leadership role Dax left. Tyler is not unique; for instance, there’s the likes of Ben Mines, who recently opened his MLS goal account at the age of 17. The question is how they’ve done so well getting youth ready for the MLS. It might be because they have a close relationship with NYRB II while FC Dallas hasn’t had the most productive one with OKC Energy FC.
Dan Hunt has hinted at a bigger commitment with a USL team, and he’s recognized the issue with Coy Craft and other players that did not develop enough with OKC. However, there’s new management at OKC with Steve Cooke, former assistant of Oscar’s at Colorado Rapids. There is also another USL team starting in 2019 that might make a little more sense: Austin. OKC already have a somewhat full roster with four FC Dallas players, but with Austin, the FCD youth academy could fill their roster. Austin also lacks a manager, and our Academy Director, Luchi Gonzalez, will soon be getting job offers from other clubs to coach at a higher level. Wouldn’t it be wise for FC Dallas to partner with Austin to ensure: 1) our youth players fill the ranks of their roster, 2) our youth are coached with someone familiar with them, and 3) play in a similar system to that of FC Dallas? I think so.
Busca La Forma,
Marcus Aurelius Wrightus