FC Dallas is coming to Stade Saputo as the Montreal Impact will attempt to take the bull by the horns and win back to back MLS games for the first time in this young MLS season. Last meeting between both teams in Montreal ended in a 0-0 draw
Brian Waccholz of Big D Soccer answers Mount Royal Soccer's questions as we preview the Bleu-Blanc-Noir against Los Toros.
1- What are the major changes at FC Dallas since the 2014 MLS playoffs? Is Oscar Pareja still the right man for the job no matter what?
There have been very few changes since FCD was eliminated from the 2014 Playoffs by the away goals rule. The roster was tightened up. Several players were released, and a couple of key contributors were re-signed. Oscar Pareja is the man for FC Dallas. He has successfully turned the club with the strongest youth academy into the MLS team actually using those youth players in the first team. Schellas Hyndman, for all of his experience as a college coach, refused to play homegrown and rookie players. He'd rather play a more experienced veteran out of position. Oscar doesn't play that game. FCD led the league in homegrown minutes last season and is off to another solid start this year. There are 3 homegrown players who are regular starters this season, Victor Ulloa, Kellyn Acosta, and Moises Hernandez.
Oscar is very familiar with this team having been a player, assistant coach, and director of the youth academy, prior to taking the head coach job. His methods of managing the first team sync up perfectly with ownership's philosophy of building a team from the youth up, rather than buying expensive foreign stars. I believe we can't truly call it success until this club wins a championship, but it certainly feels like we are on the path.
2- FC Dallas is on top of the Western Conference with a 17 goals for but 13 goals against. Does this define the style and identity of the club both offensively and defensively?
I think that it's important to point out that 17 Goals For is tied for the most in MLS. The 13 Goals Against stat is higher than normal. FCD's biggest embarrassment this season was dropping a home result 4-0 to the Colorado Rapids who hadn't scored even 1 goal before that match. As the season progresses, the For/Against number will settle with fewer goals against.
Right now, Dan Kennedy is the leading goalkeeper in the league having played at least 300 minutes with 0.75 Goals Against. If he can stay healthy, he will be a vital asset in keeping FCD's defense sharp. Dan struggled with back spasms earlier this year. Back injuries are very tricky, so I hope FCD's trainers are able to work with him proactively to prevent a relapse.
3- Could you share the perfect guide to subdue Fabian Castillo or does one just hope that he has an off-game?
It is possible to contain Fabian, but you need at least a couple of special players. First of all, you need speed. You need central midfielders and fullbacks who are capable of keeping up with Fabian when he starts dribbling at you in a sprint. Secondly, you need the veteran experience to anticipate Fabian's moves before he does them, but the young Colombian is so creative, this is a tall task.
Portland did the best containing him so far this year. Diego Charra, a fellow Colombian, was able to put a lot of pressure on Castillo. Speedy wingers like Darlington Nagbe in midfield and Alvas Powell at fullback were able to stay on Castillo's heels, preventing him from gaining any usable space with the ball. And then that last line of defense before the keeper: Nat Borchers is a strong veteran centerback who helped organize the defense to keep Castillo at bay.
Hopefully that helps answer your question. I don't know how Montreal can translate Portland's method to their players or maybe come up with a different idea. Additionally, in that Portland match, Mauro Diaz was unable to play. When you have Mauro supplementing Fabian, it's a totally different ball game.