2020 has been a wild year for many reasons, but some things never change. One of those things is the Seattle Sounders facing off against FC Dallas in the playoffs. I chatted with Drew from Big D Soccer about tonight’s match.
Sounder at Heart: FC Dallas have seemed to settle into being really good defensively. They kept a lot of clean sheets towards the end of the season, and kept Portland quiet in Round 1. Despite the changes at the back, what makes FC Dallas so good there?
Big D Soccer: A lot of it comes down to veteran leadership and rising young talents. In goal, you have someone like Jimmy Maurer who is proving to be one of the more underrated keepers in the league right now. He’s so good at communication and keeping his defensive group in check in front of him. He’s got the ability to go between English and Spanish with ease, which really helps on this team as a leader. Then you have guys like Ryan Hollingshead and Matt Hedges, two proven players that lead by example on the field. Hedges may not have the pace you want as a center back but he’s got such a good soccer IQ that keeps him in plays and helps make good stops.
On the athletic front, you have the emerging talents of Bryan Reynolds on one side and then John Nelson on the other. Both provide great cover on the wings but also are solid threats at getting forward and lending into the attack. Reynolds for one is a converted forward as a fullback, so his crossing ability into the box has been on display lately. His play since taking over for Reggie Cannon who left this summer on a transfer for Portgual’s Boavista has been a lot of fun to watch.
SAH: Is Dallas missing any key players? Or is the squad fully fit?
BDS: For the most part, this team comes into this game with just a couple of knocks, one being Paxton Pomykal, who has been out since earlier this fall due to a surgery that he had to repair some muscle issues he was having. The other questions mark going into this one really come down to Bryan Acosta, who has been dealing with some hamstring-type issues for a few weeks now. He got back in time for the Portland game last week but apparently is a question mark again due to it not fully healing according to head coach Luchi Gonzalez.
SAH: What has this season been like for FC Dallas fans? How are you feeling about Tuesday night’s game?
BDS: This year, man, it’s been wild. Between the long lay off before the July tournament in Orlando that saw this team withdraw from it to the jam-packed fall schedule that saw them do pretty well at times. We’ve seen this team progress a bit from last year under Gonzalez while adding some solid pieces to the group like veteran forward Franco Jara from Monterrey and then Colombian playmaker Andres Ricaurte. Both have had good moments and have been difference-makers for this group when they need to be.
I do think getting over the Portland hump in the playoffs was a big mental check box that this group was able to finally get last week. Will it matter come Tuesday night? We’ll certainly see, but the talk of revenge along the way against teams like Portland and Seattle have really hit home with this group. They really do look like a group that has a chance to do something special and if 2020 has taught us anything, expect the unexpected.
Reserve set of questions can be read here.