Another season, and another opportunity to bring back the Three Questions feature! This week, ahead of Sunday's match between Chivas USA and FC Dallas, we link up with SB Nation FCD blog Big D Soccer, and welcome contributor Brian Wachholz to answer questions about the team he knows best. Big thanks to Brian for taking the time to answer my questions!
The Goat Parade asks Big D Soccer:
1. Like most MLS teams, FC Dallas had some significant moves in the offseason. Can you go over some of the big moves, and discuss who you think will be among the immediate contributors to the team among the newcomers?
The additions to most impact our squad should be Eric Hassli and Kenny Cooper. Last season, we put too many of our hopes into just one forward, who ended up missing a significant portion of the season due to reasons beyond his control. This year we have veteran depth up top, the likes of which have never been seen in Dallas. Michel is also a welcome surprise at leftback. Jair Benitez, for all his strengths, has been a liability on the field in seasons past. Michel should push him to be better, if not replace him altogether. FC Dallas did not re-sign Kevin Hartman, and his presence will surely be missed. However, the addition of Raul Fernandez and return to fitness by Chris Seitz has made the race for #1 GK compelling this offseason. Since Fernandez and Seitz are on a closer level (and a not too distant Richard Sanchez) compared to competing with Hartman each week will be a slugfest to see who gets the start. This competition is driving our GK pool to be best in the league.
2. Last week, FCD beat the Colorado Rapids 1-0 in their season opener. How was the performance overall for Dallas - what did they do well, and what do they need to continue to work on?
It was an ugly win, but one that we will take enthusiastically. Schellas Hyndman's teams always start the season slowly. I recently read from Daniel Robertson on our blog that Schellas has won 2 of 12 of the first couple games of each of his seasons in charge. The good news is that the FCD back line was very strong and withstood the second half pressure applied by Colorado. The club missed the playoffs last year in large part to allowing goals late in the second half. The offense should come along in time.
3. What do you think are the goals for the season for FC Dallas?
I see team goals as a progressive process. You can't reach your end goal until you accomplish little steps first. The immediate goal will be to get all of our players on the field together and learning each others movements. We have several new players to the team and a new formation, replacing our 4-2-3-1 with a 4-4-2. This is important because right now we have a few players out due to injury, suspension, and international call-ups. The next goal is to qualify for the playoffs, hopefully before the last regular season match. The last goal for 2013 is to make an impact in the playoffs and try to exceed the bar that was set in 2010 by reaching the MLS Cup Finals.
4. (Bonus) Prediction for the match?
I think that possession will go back and forth throughout the match with no real domination from either team. I expect FC Dallas to get in 2 goals, 1 of which resulting from a set piece. Final score 2-0 Dallas.
Big D Soccer asks The Goat Parade:
1. Eric Avila is a player that FC Dallas fans know well, having spent 3 years with the horizontal red stripes. Now that Avi is with the vertical red stripes, what kind of a role do you see him playing this year? Will his MLS experience greatly impact a newly rebuilt team with several players new to MLS?
I think Avila will potentially play a significant role this season for Chivas. As you say, he is one of just a handful of players on the roster who have substantial MLS experience, and Chelís seems to like him. He is being asked to play something of a right-sided wingback role so far this season, and that adjustment means his offensive output could potentially be curtailed. On first viewing, I thought he really struggled last week against Columbus, but on second viewing, he seemed to be one of the few players to try and progress the attack during the match. Certainly, there will be growing pains, but Avila has shown enough potential over his career that we hope he can breakout this season for the Goats.
2. With new head coach El Chelis imparting his on-the-field philosophy on Chivas USA, what kind of playing style do you expect to see the Goats showcase in the future as the players mature into this new system?
Considering last year Chivas had the second-worst goals tally in league history, practically anything is an improvement. Although previous coach Robin Fraser stressed a possession style that often led to players being too cautious lest they lose the ball, certainly Chelís wants players to hold onto the ball, but to a point. As he described it during the preseason, he wants to play a style that is high tempo and puts pressure on the defense by pressing them constantly, while also creating quick attacks. As we saw during the first game, pretty much none of that style actually happened, so it looks like the team needs time to get it together against MLS opposition. Still, in one of the preseason games, against the Colorado Rapids, Chivas executed this gameplan to a T and won the game 3-0. We'll see which side of the team comes out Sunday against Dallas.
3. What has changed in the off-season to help the Goats score more goals this season?
In theory, they overhauled the roster in part to score more goals this season. By getting rid of aging, oft-injured veterans like Juan Pablo Angel (who returned to play in his native Colombia) and Alejandro Moreno (who retired) they cleared cap space and brought in some young prospects. In addition to Avila, U17 World Cup winner Giovani Casillas joined the club on loan from Chivas de Guadalajara, and Chelís started him and fellow loanee Julio Morales in the season opener, to mixed results. Both showed moments of promise, but couldn't create any goals on the game. The expectation is that the young players (and they are basically all young, including Miller Bolanos, Juan Agudelo and Jose Correa returning) will contribute, but I fear that may be moving too far in the other direction from last year's unproductive veterans.
Bonus: What player should FC Dallas fans watch out for that they may not be familiar with already?
A good question, since there are so many new players overall. Although he's returning, and I recall him sending a dirty shot to a FCD player last season, I still think Miller Bolaños has to be one of the most important players on the roster, and his improvement over the course of last season makes me think he could be a breakout star this season. In other words, if he plays well, the team's prospects will improve considerably.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!