With soccer back(!), it’s time to get the opponent view prior to a big game. Before Nashville ships off to FC Dallas tomorrow, I caught up with Dan Crooke of 3rd Degree for a little intel on the Toros.
Tim Sullivan: What is the plan at goalkeeper after the termination of Jesse Gonzalez? What level of step down in performance (if any) is expected?
Dan Crooke: Jimmy Maurer will step in, at least in the short term. There isn’t much of a drop off in performance. Jesse was a much better shot stopper and had brought his distribution up to Maurer’s level. Maurer’s advantage is really being better in communication and decision making (I guess off the field too).
TWS: Luchi started the same lineup in each of the first two games. Is he expected to continue with that, or do you foresee (non-Gonzalez) changes to the XI?
DC: Luchi was set to make a few changes for week three including a formation change. I doubt we’ll see Tanner Tessmann start with Bryan Acosta returning from an injury that kept him out of those two games.
The midfield three is an eternal inconsistency for FC Dallas. They played two defensive midfielders in the first two games to help Thiago Santos adjust but he should be fine to play as a single pivot unless they plan to continue that in order to counter Nashville’s high forward line. Acosta or Brandon Servania can play as more of a linking-8 profile, or even as that second defensive midfielder. I’d expect to see Paxton Pomykal as the ‘free-8’ but Jesus Ferreira did start there in the previous games.
What he does at the back will have a big effect. I’d expect to see a 3-5-2 at some point with Bressan coming in alongside Matt Hedges and Reto Ziegler. That moves Michael Barrios from the right wing to supporting striker, sacrificing Fafa Picault in the process.
TWS: In that regard, what is the expectation for Paxton Pomykal’s health? Is he Full-90 fit?
DC: He says he is. I asked Paxton about that last week, he mentioned some soreness after training but he’s not playing through pain anymore after a second surgery on a sports hernia over the winter.
TWS: The big three offensively – from outsiders’ perspectives, at least – are Kobra [Zdenek Ondrasek], and US Youth Internationals Ricardo Pepi and Jesus Ferreira. Do they make the engine go? Are there others to keep an eye on?
DC: Kobra is definitely the guy up top at the moment. He went from close to being cut to eight goals and three assists in his last seven home games. Franco Jara, a new signing from Pachuca, is the one to watch as he should make his debut in one of the games. He signed the largest contract in team history with a lot of expected of him once he’s settled in. Originally Jara was set to miss half the season as Pachuca wanted $5m to release him from his contract a few months early, but Dallas found a silver lining in this awful situation we’re all in.
TWS: How has the team found success defensively, giving up just two goals so far?
DC: Luchi sets a high press which has definitely helped restrict teams to long-range shots. It will be interesting to see how well that works after five months off and a heat index of 100°F expected at kick-off.
TWS: Any specific predictions for the match (possibly including a final score if you’re comfortable predicting one)?
DC: On the face of it – a brand new side playing away to a consistent contender – I’d expect a Dallas win in the first game. It’s two coaches who are happy to mix things up to chase a result so it should be very close either way. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a David Accam goal since he loves to torment FCD.
Walker Zimmerman photo courtesy Major League Soccer.