In some ways, this has been an odd preseason for FC Dallas. Usually, a team enters camp with questions and comes out with some answers. To a certain extent, answers have come but, oddly, certain circumstances have raised additional questions.
Two preseason games remain to get some answers.
Let’s dig in.
As the club entered spring camp I was expecting Ema Twumasi to get the first look here with Eddie Munjoma challenging. Then Twumasi came down with some health issues – I heard abductor problem then Coach Luchi Gonzalez said something about a heart issue – and instead, Ryan Hollingshead (according to our spies) has started every game at right back.
Apparent Answer: Ryan Hollingshead
We assumed coming in that Jader Obrian would be the guy here and that has proven to be the case. This one wasn’t nearly as up for grabs as some other spots.
Apparent Answer: Jader Obrian
Now here a position that truly was up for grabs. There were at least five candidates on paper: an injured Paxton Pomykal, new signing Freddy Vargas, new college Homegrown Kalil ElMedkhar, sometimes 9/AM Jesus Ferreira, and nominally-9 Ricardo Pepi.
Vargas has arguably been the revelation of 2021 so far getting rave reviews from the first week of camp.
Apparent Answer: Freddy Vargas
Left Center Back
This one seemed like it might be a bigger battle than it turned out to be. Holdover Bressan got the first start but it’s been José Antonio Martínez since. That’s not a surprise since the Spaniard is a high-profile signing to replace Reto Ziegler.
Apparent Answer: José Antonio Martínez
One of the original position battles coming into the spring looks like it still could be up for grabs. Franco Jara gets more starts than Ricardo Pepi, but El Tren is playing a lot and Jara has been mediocre at best. And now Jesus Ferreira is back from Olympic camp so this one could get really hot over the last two weeks.
Current Leader: Franco Jara
Really this battle is less about the linking 8 – because of the way the Dallas midfield rotates – and more about Bryan Acosta vs Tanner Tessmann. The national media assumes it’s Tessmann but those of us in Dallas know that Acosta was hurt last year and Luchi always raves about what the Honduran brings to the game. Plus Acosta is 27, a World Cup qualifying vet, and, most importantly, a DP. But, both Acosta and Tessmann have been gone on international duty and we’ve seen both Freddy Vargas and Nicky Hernandez play in this spot. So it’s still up for grabs.
Still, I think there is a leader almost by default of status.
Current Leader: Bryan Acosta
This wasn’t a position we thought had a battle when camp started. It wasn’t until Hollingshead became de facto right back and Eddie Munjoma started playing on the left a lot that it came into question. Right now it’s Munjoma and Johnny Nelson and the best defending outside back on the team has the leg up.
Current Leader: Johnny Nelson
The 6 is not a position that was remotely in play at the start of 2021. Thiago Santos – despite being 31 – led the league in duels won last year and played in almost every game for FC Dallas.
Then the club sold him and created a question: who the heck is going to play 6?
The straight positional swap is Edwin Cerrillo but a 20-year-old in such a vital position might be a big ask for Luchi who is more conservative defensivly, even if Cerrillo is having a fantastic spring as we hear he is.
Bringing back the “triple-pivot” with Bryan Acosta as the 6 with Andres Ricaurte and Tanner Tessmann is also a viable idea. So this one is way up for grabs.
Current Leader: Edwin Cerrillo
Where We’re At
Four questions answered, two questions unanswered, and two new questions created.
Here’s where we are with two games left this spring. Call this the Mid-Spring XI, if you like.