Los Angeles Football Club have the odd schedule quirk of two games against the same team in the same week, with a clash at home against FC Dallas on Thursday and then the away game on Sunday. We don’t know, either.
To gear up for this two-spot, it was time to chat with our pal Drew Epperley of SB Nation FC Dallas site Big D Soccer. Many thanks to Drew for taking the time to answer my questions!
Angels on Parade asks Big D Soccer:
1. New year, new coach, some new players for FC Dallas. How are things going so far in 2019 for the team?
Early on we saw a lot of success for Luchi Gonzalez and his squad. Guys like Paxton Pomykal, Edwin Cerrillo, and Jesus Ferreira all made headlines for themselves by earning lots of playing time as starters. Gonzalez has shown a lot of trust in his younger players, typically starting four to five Homegrown players per game this season. But all that those good feelings are starting to dust away as the team is picking up some injuries and guys like Pomykal and Cerrillo are heading off for youth national team duty this month (you can throw Brandon Servania in that mix as well). We expected some bumpy stretches here this season as Gonzalez sorted out how to be a manager on the professional level too. If he can weather this current stretch of games against LAFC (and then Seattle), without too many more losses, I think folks will be happy. If not, it may be just the start of a long summer here in Dallas.
2. Paxton Pomykal seems to be having a breakout campaign so far this year, but he’s been dealing with both injury and a U-20 USMNT call-up. Will he be available against LAFC this week, and if not, who will be likely to step up in his place?
The team is letting him go to the U-20 camp after this week as he continues to rehab his hamstring injury from a couple of weeks back. I don’t really see this as a time where he’ll see action on the field with FC Dallas in either of these two games as he’s likely going to be such an important fixture for Tam Ramos and the U-20s.
So far finding a player to step into his creative role has been rough for Gonzalez. We saw Pablo Aranguiz attempt to fill in for him this past week but he brings a bit of a defensive liability to the field when he is placed in the midfield. One option floating around is that we could see Ferreira drop into a number 10 role with newcomer Zdenek Ondrasek in the lone striker role. Ferreira did play a lot of time in the academy system as a number 10 and is comfortable playing. It may be a bit too dicey to attempt this against the league’s best club but Gonzalez may have no other choice but to roll the dice with this kind of change.
3. Ultimately, what are the goals for FC Dallas this season?
The front office and the coaching staff will always say the same things for this season and that is to reach the playoffs. I don’t think anyone is truly expecting this group to compete for an MLS Cup right now. They are just too young and inexperienced, and right now we’re seeing that the depth just isn’t there enough to pick up the slack. I’ve thought all along this year that this group could be a fringe playoff team if things went their way. We’re already seeing some teams in the Western Conference struggle, and that could help this side out down the stretch if they don’t drop too many games here this summer.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for this week’s games between the teams?
This one could be interesting given the players out but Gonzalez will likely stick with his 4-3-3:
Jesse Gonzalez; Ryan Hollingshead, Matt Hedges, Reto Ziegler, Reggie Cannon; Carlos Gruezo, Jacori Hayes, Bryan Acosta; Pablo Aranguiz, Jesus Ferreria, Michael Barrios
You can find my answers to Drew’s questions at Big D Soccer.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!