How will FC Dallas lineup against Inter Miami?
Lionel Messi has looked like the greatest player in the world in his brief time in Miami. How can FC Dallas minimize his threat?
Sunday night is a big occasion for FC Dallas, for Frisco, for the Hunt family, and for Major League Soccer.
FC Dallas will relish their chances as the home side (even though they aren’t being treated like one) in front of a raucous, sold-out crowd as they welcome Lionel Messi and Inter Miami to town.
The big question is how Nico Estevez will field his squad against their Florida visitors to advance further into the Leagues Cup. It’s not a joyous tactical conundrum for any coach. FC Dallas has been playing well as of late and look to carry that form forward. But Messi is… Messi. Oscar Pareja had his Orlando team playing fairly well against their in-state opponents, and it didn’t prevent Messi and company from moving forward.
Here are some thoughts:
You need your best four on the field, because I don’t think this is the time for Nico to bring out the 5-3-2.
Currently, the preferred lineup appears to be Geovane Jesus (quietly making strides at right back), Nkosi Tafari, Sebastian Ibeagha, and Marco Farfan. Sam Junqua looked excellent in the last match at left back, but you likely prefer Farfan if he is rested and healthy. Jose Martinez would bring some additional experience but can be a liability.
Maarten Paes is a lock in goal, of course. He’s been so good, and they will need him to do something special at least once or twice to advance.
We have seen some strong performances from this unit, but FC Dallas’ defense seems destined for a couple of bone-headed mistakes once or twice a game. If there is a time to play a consistent game, this is it. We will definitely see who is up for this one or who sinks under the pressure.
Despite this being the best lineup, they will need help. That draws us to the midfield.
With Edwin Cerrillo’s departure and the fact that Illarramendi isn’t eligible to play and not even in Frisco yet, Facundo Quignon is the guy who will have the difficult task of keeping things solid at the back. He’s been playing really well lately, so you don’t hesitate here. Of course, he’s known to make some mistakes too. This is the kind of game where the Argentinian veteran can make a case for a contract extension with a big performance.
New signing Canadian international Liam Fraser is also unavailable for this one. (See what Big D Soccer had to say about this surprise signing.)
In the most recent couple of games, Alan Velasco and Sebastian Lletget have started in attack. There are few options to move to a double pivot since Edwin is gone, and Nolan Norris is simply too young. Paxton Pomykal could get his first start in a while, if Nico thinks he needs someone who can expend a bit more energy tracking back to help defend. You probably don’t fix what is working, and Velasco will pose some serious threat to Inter Miami.
This is the real locus point of the problem for FC Dallas. If the midfield can clog things up and not lose track of Messi, Miami will have a slog of a match. That’s what FC Dallas surely wants.
Finally, Nico Estevez talked a couple of weeks back about wanting to make changes to improve the offensive threat for this team, and his changes have paid off.
Jesus Ferreira is back and hasn’t missed a beat, willing to assist or score to give his team an edge.
Bernard Kamungo has been a feisty, goal scoring option on the right, although his youth gives you a bit of pause. Is he ready for such a big game? Do you bring Paul Arriola in to start and trust his veteran experience? My gut is that Arriola, who has been working his way back to fitness, goes 50 or 60 minutes from the opening whistle.
Jader Obrian was unfortunate not to score a goal last week. With Velasco inside, I think you have to trust him again and let him try to make runs to confuse Miami’s back line. Let’s just hope he can stay onside.
Eugene Ansah might be deserving of a start on the wing though, and the new signing has been a gift to this weary team. Is he fit enough yet? Is he better to bring off the bench late and push for an equalizer or a go ahead goal?
Home Field Advantage
If there is one savory aspect to this situation, FC Dallas is at home. The weather will be hot. Has Lionel Messi played in this kind of heat? Will the rest of Inter Miami step up to the occasion?
Even if Messi scores (which he likely will), FC Dallas will push to win this thing late, and as the temperature zaps a shallow roster for Miami, the advantage should go to the home side.
How do you think Dallas will line up on Sunday night?
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