FC Dallas tweaked some things after last year. Hyndman is out and their new coach is former Rapids' man Oscar Pareja. He is doing a few things that are similar to what he did with Colorado, but with a bit more talent at his disposal. While the attack is high powered (13 goals for), but the defense has a few weaknesses (6 goals against, no shutouts). In two of their three home games they've earned red cards while managing a 3-0-0 +4 GD. It is the continuation of a tough start to the 2014 Seattle Sounders FC season (6th hardest schedule so far).
Wachhz from Big D Soccer answers Three Questions to help you get ready for Saturday's game.
SaH: Dallas doesn't have a shutout yet. Is there a problem in defense?
BDS: FC Dallas is still short a couple of defenders. George John has been carrying an injury through preseason. Zach Loyd who has been FCD's starting right back only recently returned to the field against Houston. In the meantime, Matt Hedges has been nothing short of incredible and has built a good partnership with Stephen Keel. Additionally, defensive midfield has been inconsistent with the loss of Andrew Jacobson and Adam Moffat to injury and Hendry Thomas to a red card suspension. This has forced Oscar Pareja into different back line ups each game so far in 2014.
The good news is that between the defense keeping opponents to 1 goal and the front line scoring more than 1, FC Dallas has been able to pull out wins despite leaking the occasional goal. Expect things to tighten up as players return from injury, get consistent minutes with the same partnerships weekly, and OP is able to deploy his Best XI.
SaH: There are three current Young DPs as well as former Young DP Castillo, all from South America. Which of these is most contributing to victory?
BDS: I don't think you can pin anything FC Dallas has been doing right on any one player. Mauro Diaz is the obvious front runner if you really force me into ranking the DPs though. However, his efforts would be for naught if the defense wasn't restricting opponents. Castillo is a close second. He has really settled in well this season and is showing signs of maturity which we were desperate for last year.
Texeira and Esobar have yet to really showcase for FC Dallas. It's been well documented that foreign players usually take a bit of time to adjust to MLS. If these guys are as good as promised, then I think it'll be really fun to see them run rampant. I wish I knew how much time was needed.
SaH: What's the biggest change in how the team plays going from Hyndman to Pareja?
BDS: I seem to get this question every week, an it's a slam dunk easy answer. OP is using every player on the roster. The young guys who aren't ready for MLS are being loaned out to NASL and USL Pro. The other inexperienced guys are being trusted to step up when the team needs them. For example two weeks ago: OP gave Victor Ulloa his first MLS start when 3 of our midfielders were unavailable. I know that Schellas would not have done that because last season he opted to play a regular starter out of position rather than a young homegrown. This trial by fire has been a success so far. It's building confidence and proving that these academy boys can make the leap. When it comes to the youth, in Oscar We Trust. He did well with Colorado's young roster also. His decisions so far have strengthened this mantra.
Significant Absences (injury/suspension/national team): George John is still out. Andres Escobar is out with back pain.
BDS: How much time does Sigi have left to show that he can be successful with this team? He was on the hot seat for a brief time last season, and the Sounders have struggled out of the gate in 2014, losing 2 of the first 5 games.
SaH: Seattle's two losses were to the two best teams in the Eastern Conference (2nd and 3rd in the league). Two mistakes by former All Star Marco Pappa gave Jermaine Defoe two goals. An odd last second goal from a corner ended the chance at a hang-on draw versus the Crew. Sigi and the club seem content with how the team is playing with a knowledge that there are more points in the future than behind him. This is clearly a playoff team, even if flawed (it's also MLS so there will always be flaws).
Schmid is in the last year of his contract. The evaluation he received last year clearly indicated that the organization was dissatisfied with the way the season ended. Still, they chose Sigi based on his process and the way his process fits into the overall organizational philosophy. The rebuild here is rather extreme for a club that was on the verge of both the Supporters' Shield and won a playoff game. It is clearly as talented, if not more so than the teams that won multiple US Open Cups and threatened regularly at winning the Shield, made history in the CCL and has moderate Playoff success. Sigi's bar is high. His history here is of success without the pinnacle. He'll need to do at least that well to remain here in 2015.
BDS: Seattle has some big names that all need to gel together to be effective. How is the relationship between Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, and Kenny Cooper? How do they complement each other?
SaH: The relationship is still developing, but it seems to be going quite well. Dempsey's at four goals with an assist. Oba's earned four assists and a goal. Cooper has two goals and an assist. The 4-3-3 worked fairly well at getting them interacting with each other. Cooper goes out wide, a place that hadn't worked well for him in the past, but plays that space like a target man. It's rather easy for Kenny to win an aerial duel against MLS outside backs. From there he can knock it back to Yedlin or into danger areas where Oba and Clint roam. Dempsey starts on the left in this three forward set, but plays underneath Martins quite a bit. This puts the two DPs in spaces where both are goal dangerous. Their passing skills regularly spring each other and create chances. Against Portland they looked dynamic and potent. They've still hardly played with one another.
BDS: What has been plaguing Seattle in the playoffs? With all the success the rave green have had in the US Open Cup, why do they struggle in a similar tournament like MLS Cup Playoffs?
SaH: At one point I thought the issue was with two-leg series. Then they beat RSL, a couple months later beat Tigres and shortly after that nearly beat Santos Laguna. In 09, 10, 12 and 13 they were the underdogs in the two-leg series. They won one of those. The only time they were the favorite was in 2011 and lost due to a complete egg on the road in leg one. That's not horrible. The idea that the lower seed should win frequently seems... odd.
Right now I'm more concerned with Seattle maintaining its undefeated road record and settling into a single shape that unlocks the talents of the best attacking players on the team (Clint, Oba, Cooper, Yedlin). They'll be in the Playoffs at the end of the year, hopefully with a major trophy or two already in their display.
Significant Absences: Parsemain and Lowe are both on the DL.
Projected lineups were not exchanged. We'll have that on Friday.