Vancouver Looms Next for FC Dallas
FC Dallas Head Coach Nico Estevez spoke to reporters ahead of the weekend's away game for his squad. What are the keys to this matchup against their Western Conference foes?
"Vancouver is a difficult place to play, a weird place to play," said FC Dallas Head Coach Nico Estévez ahead of FC Dallas’ road match against Vancouver this weekend during a weekly media call.
Truer words have never been spoken about one of the more frustrating venues for FC Dallas historically.
Every team in Major League Soccer enjoys some level of home field advantage, Dallas included, but some places are just plain difficult - the altitude in Colorado, the crowd and turf in Seattle, the bizarre baseball field experience for NYCFC, etc, etc.
But Vancouver? Well, let Nico put it out there.
“If you analyze their games at home, they are always… something happens. They don’t need to play well to win games there. They have that environment - a kind of belief that shapes their mentality. They don’t need to be great to beat you,” Nico said. “We need to know that - it’s not going to be about only the performance, but that mentality to stay in the game the whole time. And get it done.”
Vancouver has lost both of its first games, one at home against Real Salt Lake and one away at San Jose. In each match, Vancouver scored first, jumping out to a strong start, but then gave up leads to their opponents. This should bode well for Dallas to grow into the game, but the hunger and desire for a win from the home side to kickstart their season will make life difficult for the visitors.
Nico mentioned the team needing to be ready for anything, especially as Vancouver plays this week in the CCL. How many players will they rotate? Will they show 4 in the back or 5 in the back against Dallas? Can FC Dallas shape the match with their own ideas?
In short, Nico will need his players to be ready to adjust and meet Vancouver where they are, taking advantage of quick transitions or other opportunities as the Whitecaps push for the win.
Meanwhile, in one of those positions to watch, Estevez spoke about that starting center-back battle next to Jose Martinez. He didn’t suggest any single player has won the starting job but to expect some continued rotation.
“All three can play, so it’s more related to the gameplan and having everyone engaged,” Nico said. “Jose and Sebastian, Jose and Nkosi. Next game it could be some of those or someone else. We have plenty of confidence in all three. We don’t care who is going to play. We will try to find the right partner - for the game plan that we want to do there.”
Prediction: No matter what happens in CCL play, Vancouver is going to want to get their Major League Soccer season underway. Three losses to begin action would likely start a tiny spark under Vanni Sartini’s position. They will push to take control of the game early. If Dallas can weather those moments and keep the damage minimal, an equalizer goal off of a quick transition is likely. In fact, this is a perfect game where Velasco, Arriola, and Ferreira can continue to build their partnership and do well if the team can take advantage of turnovers.
Heck, maybe Dallas could even find a winner late if they keep the pressure up, and a weary Vancouver fades.
One question will be whether or not the team sees a first appearance from Jesús Jiménez who has been waiting for his green card. If it’s not ready, surely he can fly out to Vancouver for a bench role for this one?
Vancouver CCL: Meanwhile, the Whitecaps crushed Honduras’ Real España at home 5-0. The result means the team will likely field a very strong lineup on Saturday and then seek to rotate in the second leg of CCL play. They will be riding an emotional high, complicating things for FC Dallas. Expect a tough match.
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