FC Dallas played LA Galaxy this weekend in Toyota Stadium. It was a sunny Texas day in March and the stadium was packed full of adoring fans. However, there was one question on everyone’s mind: where is Zlatan?
From the beer garden, chants rang out of “Where is your Zlatan?” and “In the jungle, the mighty jungle the lion sleeps tonight,” obvious taunts at LA. However, these calls were incredibly valid.
FC Dallas made a huge mistake of marketing Zlatan and this game as a once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch him play when he was nowhere to be found. Even more embarrassingly, they ran these ads at halftime when it was painstakingly apparent Zlatan would not be found on the pitch.
For such a hyped-up match, nothing much seemed to happen. Yes, FC Dallas won 2-0, but was it the game of a lifetime? Hardly.
In my opinion, Paxton Pomykal was the standout of the match, even though Reto Ziegler and Bryan Acosta scored the two goals of the match. No one showed as much hustle on the field as Pomkykal in every single minute of the game.
In fact, Pomykal is partially responsible for Bryan Acosta’s first MLS goal. It’s going to be very interesting to see how Luchi Gonzalez pushes Pomykal in his debut season as FC Dallas’ coach.
I would love to see Pomykal as a starter this season as his confidence grows on the field. He only gets better. Gonzalez stressed the importance of possession throughout the preseason and Dallas did a great job of implementing that this match.
We ended the match with 64% possession of the ball and even had a whopping 59 uninterrupted passes.
Other notable moments of the match included Edwin Cerillo’s MLS debut after an awesome preseason. Although Cerillo only joined the game in the 79th minute, he had a solid start, with his first touch being a clearance of Joe Corona’s free kick.
Jesse Gonzalez also had a notable save on the field – arguably one of the best of the week – in the 91st minute. His short reaction time saves are some of the best in MLS. Gonzalez and the Homegrowns certainly had an amazing day on the field – pointing towards a promising season if we can keep it up.
My name is Sahara Clay. I’m 21 years old and am currently a student at Brookhaven College, although I’ll transfer to University of Texas-Dallas in the fall for Cognitive Science. I’m Dallas born and raised, and I’m lucky enough to live in a city rich with soccer.
My love affair with the game began when I joined my first soccer team in fourth grade. I lived and breathed for soccer and every week all I could think of was getting to practice and playing a game that weekend. My favorite position was left midfield and, due to my ability to run for a whole game, I was bestowed the nickname “Dynamo.” At the time, I was too young to know that I would become an FC Dallas fan, and that the Dynamo would become my rival. I’m still looking for a new nickname.
I had the immense privilege of attending Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. However, that meant sacrificing a few things – namely, soccer. The sport eventually faded in my memory and became the last thing on my mind. That is, until my brother and sister joined the FC Dallas Beer Guardians. Last year, I attended my first game in the garden and suddenly remembered exactly why I fell in love with soccer in the first place: the skill, the teamwork, the strategy, and the community. I immediately joined a coed league, and I’ve since joined a second team. Now, soccer is the part of my week I most look forward to.
By now you know I’m an FC Dallas fan, but internationally, my favorite team is Iceland. I know what you’re thinking: Is she Icelandic? Why would someone love Iceland over Argentina or Mexico or Germany? The answer is: I’m not Icelandic, but they have heart. Iceland was an underdog in the World Cup, and they showed the world in their first ever WC match – against Argentina, nonetheless – exactly what they’re made of. I’ve recently discovered my own passion for playing defense and Iceland doesn’t just have a brick wall – they have a glacier. I’d love to see some of that ice brought to Dallas.
All in all, I can’t wait to see what my future with MLSFemale and this beautiful community holds in store!
When I started writing this piece, the Columbus Crew were heading to FC Dallas for their only away game in Texas since the news that they may be moved to Austin. Tensions were high between supporters of the Crew, Austin FC, and the Dallas fans who were being stuck in between it all. Nobody knew what potentially could happen that day as fans from all three sides descended upon Toyota Stadium in Frisco, TX.
The entire day gave me the inspiration to write about a unique beer that was brewed between Peticolas Brewing Co. in Dallas, TX and Land Grant Brewing Co. in Columbus, OH.
As the President of the Dallas Beer Guardians, two of my favorite things are soccer and craft beer. The passion that comes with both is often noted as two things that go hand in hand. I couldn’t agree more.
I decided to reach out to both breweries for more on the beer to share with our readers. I hope you enjoy this celebratory piece on craft beer, passion of soccer, and the saving of the Crew.
Saturday, October 13
Craft beer and soccer: These certainly are two things that most people are not surprised to hear together. For some reason, they seem pretty “peanut butter and jelly” if you really think about it.
Across the United States, you see teams and supporter groups embracing local beers that exude the same passion in brewingas they have for their team on the pitch. There is no better example than the collaboration series that Land Grant in Columbus, OH started.
I reached out to brewers and employees of both Land Grant Brewing Co. and Peticolas Brewing Co. for the story. The beer, Match Day, is the focus of this article and I hope that you will find time to make it to Columbus or Dallas to get your hands on this amazing American Pale Ale.
Land Grant opened right after the rebrand of the Crew and felt that they wanted to connect with the community of Columbus more. According to brewers Justin and Adam, one of Adam’s roommates was working for the Crew and they were looking to expand their work with local vendors in the stadium.
“They had mentioned they wanted to do a Crew beer... which everything we had ever seen along those lines is that a brewery takes a beer they were brewing and do a fan vote for the name. We felt that was dishonest and wanted to brew a beer that supporters could be part of its creation.”
After brewing 2 black beers and 2 gold, they came up with Glory American Wheat which became the official beer of the supporters in Columbus. In their 3rd season of partnership with supporters, Land Grant looked at collaborations with breweries in the cities of the 9 original MLS teams who partnered with teams or supporter groups.
Peticolas Brewing, Co. of Dallas, TX became one of the target breweries alongside Boulevard out of Kansas City, MO.
The story for Peticolas and their connections to FC Dallas and their supporters isn’t as harmonious. Peticolas Brewing, Co. owner Michael Peticolas and head brewer, Chris Martinez have been lifelong soccer fans and soccer has been at the core of the brewery culture since they started in 2012.
With the grassroots feel and refusal to sell out to large corporations and distributors, Peticolas couldn’t get their beer into Toyota Stadium in Dallas. Originally brewed for FC Dallas, their beer Irish Goodbye was rebranded when it was declined by the organization due to their lack of distribution and the front office ties to Budweiser and Legends Hospitality.
Determined to get their beer into the hands of supporters of the beautiful game as themselves, Peticolas formed a partnership with the independent supporters group, the Dallas Beer Guardians. Starting in 2016, Peticolas was pouring at every tailgate for the Dallas Beer Guardians and established themselves as the premier brewery of soccer supporters in Dallas, TX.
The beer, Match Day, is a 5.5% ABV American Pale Ale that shows a true collaboration through and through. Land Grant took care of the malt bill and yeast while Peticolas took responsibility of the hops profile. What you find, is a crisp and citrusy pale ale that works perfectly on any game day. While both breweries brew their own batches, you won’t find many differences outside of the water used and that Land Grant cans and Peticolas does not.
So, where can you get your hands on this beer? Land Grant’s partnership with the Columbus Crew is beautiful in that they were able to convert a storage container and serve their product in stadium. Peticolas, on the other hand, not so lucky for the in-stadium sales. However, you can find Match Day on tap at many of the Dallas Beer Guardian tailgates and in the taproom.
It’s beyond just what’s in the beer, though. There is a true feeling of connection between soccer supporters with this collaboration. Match Day dropped a year before the news of the potential move of the Columbus Crew to Austin. The connection between the beer became much more personal with the ties to the teams and the supporters.
“Soccer is tribal,” says Grayson Hall, head of distribution and sales for Peticolas Brewing. “It’s not tribal because it’s cool… it’s because that’s how things grow. Soccer fans aren’t the same as football and baseball fans. They want to feel a connection that doesn’t exist in your run of the mill professional sport.”
That connection is not just with the supporters, but this collaboration became personal with the #SaveTheCrew movement. This became a family who was being affected in a real way.
“You can’t buy passion. Passion is earned.”
This rings true through craft beer and in soccer culture in America. Just as with the passion and support that comes with local breweries being supported by their communities, soccer supporters banded together to support the Crew staying in Columbus.
Over the past year, American sports fans saw one of the most unique movements that showed the support that can come from a community for a cause. Fueled by the supporters in Columbus, the #SaveTheCrew movement was established to not only bring awareness to the situation in Columbus and put social pressure on Precourt Sports Ventures to leave one of the foundational teams in Major League Soccer in their home city, but to show that soccer culture cannot and will not be bought out.
This parallels the craft beer scene in that people want to ask about what’s truly local and want to support the community that they come from. Hall says, “Once that money comes in and the big company comes in and wants to move and change what was an established part of the community, people don’t want to be a part of that anymore.”
This is not only seen when visiting your local breweries around the United States, but this was seen with the idea of the Crew moving to Austin. Almost instantaneously, supporters across the United States stood up to say, “Big money will not beat passion.”
In speaking with members of both Land Grant and Peticolas, there is a real sense that this community that came together in the beer scene was also seen in coming together the entire past year for this movement. Adam Benner said, “it showed the communal aspect of soccer can bring separate fans together separated by hundreds of miles but connected on the same thing with soccer.”
This is what makes this beer, Match Day, so special. What started as a collaborative brew between MLS original communities became a show of strength and unity against large corporations and the greed that fueled decisions.
I received information from Adam and Justin on Friday, October 12 for this story which became a more special day. We were exchanging text messages throughout the day and it almost seemed fitting of the potential news that was to come later that day. “As of 1:47pm EDT there has been no official announcement, but if all the rumors are true our friends at Save the Crew accomplished their goal, and we are honored to be a part of it.” said Benner.
We are all honored to be a part of this; not just the collaboration and what it stands for, but for the support given day in and out to the community of Columbus, OH in saving the Columbus Crew.
Want to visit Land Grant and Peticolas? Check out their info below:
It’s been a while, I know. But, a lot has happened since I last wrote about FC Dallas.
We seem to be hitting a groove, but fans are still not entirely pleased. Dallas sits in first in the Western Conference and it just doesn’t seem to be good enough for many. Amongst rumors of Oscar Pareja interviewing for the USMNT team, we must keep going forward because the season isn’t over.
With a win in Vancouver, Dallas is the only team in 23 matches to defeat another team at their home. We are still seeing good stats out of the team and just clinched a playoff spot with our draw in Portland. But, is how we are playing going to be enough?
(Side note: I do think Pareja would be great for the USMNT, but I’m not ready to see him go. It seems that these rumors have been laid to rest. Many people seem to be calling for Pareja to be gone, okay well not many, but enough that it annoys me if he doesn’t get us a star this year. Personally, I think that is dumb. Yup, I said it. Where else is Dallas going to get a quality coach for the amount in the Dallas budget? I mean it. I suppose we can promote from within, but I think a good playoff run after last year is enough to keep him here in Dallas.)
I’m not here to break down the game against Portland Timbers. You can go elsewhere for better coverage of that. And, if I am being honest, I don’t get to watch a ton of games in their entirety. Last night was an exception. I loved it. I mean, I didn’t love everything about the game, but I loved that I just got to sit and watch.
However, one thing really hit me hard last night and that was when I was talking with fellow members of the Dallas Beer Guardians about what people said were “keys to the match”. One of these keys were to “not let the ball behind the defenders” or something to that extent. I mean, come on guys… isn’t this soccer 101? We should probably try to get the ball in the net as well, right? But, if this is really one of the keys that we are looking at as Dallas fans, we are in trouble.
I will admit, I like seeing Reto Ziegler and Matt Hedges in the back, but there has been a disconnect between them and whoever is playing left back and right back. I am seeing that the timing is just off on a lot of shifting and I am sure they’re practicing it, but in games, that can’t be the case. It leaves people especially open on the far post, which is definitely a scare for me.
We have been lucky that it hasn’t hurt us more. This won’t fly in playoffs. Also, where is Pablo Aranguiz? Why did we spend TAM on him and an international spot? I would like to see more of him as a playmaker and really bring that missing #10 spot on our field. (Also, goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez can stop wasting time. I’ll admit, I think we are all sick of it.)
Fans are upset because we aren’t seeing the dominating wins that we know our team is capable of. Instead, we see Pareja seeming to play to draw. Or, maybe even to not lose. I partly understand last night. All we needed was the draw for the playoff clinch.
Going forward, I would like to see us really solidify the plan for playoffs and how it will be executed. I would rather us experiment and figure that out in the next few regular season games so that it’s not an issue come that first playoff game.
I’m feeling hopeful about the future of this season and I hope others are, too. We will just have to sit back and trust in Papi.
So, I’m really struggling. I was ready to sit and write about the good and bad about the game against Houston (Texas Derby…). Then, in less than 24 hours after the game, it seemed as if the game didn’t matter anymore. It’s now Tuesday night and we have 2 new signings and lost a player who was like family. I’m not sure where to start, what to say, anything. So, this week, you will receive an emotional vomiting broken into various pieces. Enjoy.
Texas Derby vs. Houston Dynamo
This game is always a big build up for MLS fans in Texas. The fight for El Capitan brings out the heated rivalry between two cities divided by IH 45. This year was no different. I had the (dis)pleasure of being in Houston for this game with the away fans from Dallas.
Dallas came out of the gate with a goal off a corner kick within the first minute of play (Michael Barrios cross in with Matt Hedges finishing). This was exactly what we needed to set the tone of the game. If I’m being completely honest, the 1-1 draw should have been a 3-1 win for Dallas. It was absurd how horrible the finishing capabilities of Roland Lamah were this game.
Tesho Akindele is the king of too many touches and Lamah was just… no words. Let’s start with the BIGGEST mistake of the night: Reto Ziegler being waved off for the penalty kick. This is unacceptable. Reto Ziegler should ALWAYS take the PK’s until he misses… because he doesn’t miss. (So, low key warning to the new guys… don’t you dare wave off Reto.)
Put this beauty on top of missing the open net, Lamah is off everyone’s Christmas card list. Another downer is that Santiago Mosquera went down and we are now down our most effective playmaker in the midfield. We will await the new signing to see if he can truly fill his role as our new #10.
Props to Reggie Cannon for doing work. This kid is hungry to prove himself and for success. He is literally everywhere on the field. In addition, I have to give props to Hedges. It has to be noted that he has been just a consistent captain keeping our back line strong. Previously paired with Walker Zimmerman, I love seeing him now work with Ziegler. It’s a solid back line that I wouldn’t want to take on. (Although, I do miss Nedyalkov…)
I was already tired and ready to be home from the swamps, but right before I walked into my apartment, we got the notice: Kellyn Acosta was being traded to the Colorado Rapids. I had to take a moment to keep it together.
Acosta has been more than the face of homegrowns not just in Dallas, but in the USA. He has paved the way so that players like Weston McKennie could go above and beyond out of the academy systems. But, the Perry and Acosta families have been family to us fans in Dallas. The number of times we have been with his mom and dad make them as close to family as one could have.
The night before, we had been in the lobby with Kellyn’s family eating the cookie cake he requested for his birthday. Less than 24 hours later, he was gone. Now, this was a hard personal loss. I can definitely see both sides of this… but let Dallas fans mourn this loss. Kellyn had been with Dallas the last 10 years (originally from Plano, TX). If there is one thing for sure, he will always be one of our own.
However, we must move on from the emotion and look at the business side of this. In return for Kellyn, FC Dallas has received Dominique Badji (a forward from Colorado), an international spot through 2019, Colorado’s first-round selection in the 2019 MLS SuperDraft, and half the transfer fee through summer 2020 if Acosta is sold to any team outside of MLS. This could be just what Acosta needs to get to Europe and just what Dallas needs to get the star above the crest.
Badji is coming in as a fast forward from Colorado. Although his finishing stats are on par with what we have, he is going to offer a speed that will pair well with the rest of the team and provide an incredibly dangerous counterattack. It will be interesting to see if in the right team situation he will exceed expectations or just join the ranks of forwards who don’t fill the need that we have up top.
Was he the forward we were told we would get? Fans are thinking there’s no way… but, maybe just maybe, he will become the forward we need.
As our first signing from Chile, Aránguiz is here and will be wearing the #10. I will be honest. I don’t know much about the guy, but he seems dedicated to hard work so he is already on my good side. Can he be the playmaker we need him to be? We will see.
He is coming in to replace Mauro Diaz and will even be wearing the same number. Diaz hadn’t been the same since his 2016 injury, so I am feeling hopeful. On top of this, having Santi out proves that we need to fill this spot for a playmaker or we will be left with a huge hole. Time will tell, no?
Not-So-Overseas Love – Chris Richards settles into Bayern First Team against PSG
Chris Richards is the homegrown from FC Dallas to go on loan to FC Bayern Munich to play with their U19s. However, this past week, Richards made his first-team debut against PSG in the International Champions Cup. He came in as a center back while the game was at 1-1 and helped the back line not concede another goal for a 3-1 win. Congrats Chris! We are beyond proud of you!
It may seem like it has been awhile, but it was only in April that we saw our first MLS Cup winner of the year… an eMLS Cup winner. The buzz and hype around the eMLS Cup in Boston this past year was just something I couldn’t get enough of. Seeing supporters of all clubs actively backing their professional gamers to defeat opponents game after game was awesome.
I couldn’t help but be curious as to this notion of signing a professional gamer to MLS clubs and how people even got there. As a teacher, I see middle school students trying to play video games in class. I’m actually pretty sure if I brought in my XBox and allowed them to play FIFA in class, we would have an all-out tournament. However, according to Forbes.com, esports is on track to bring in $900 million in revenue this year. You guys… $900 million.
It’s no wonder that MLS has started signing their own eMLS players as this is a huge market that any business would be crazy to not touch.. So, my next challenge? Talk to the FC Dallas eMLS player who made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, Alan Avila.
Check out my interview – with former FC Dallas youth player turned eMLS star!
Okay so, let’s start with a little bit about your soccer background. You played for the FC Dallas youth system as a midfielder in high school. When did you start playing soccer and can you tell MLSFemale readers a little bit more about your soccer background?
I started playing soccer ever since I was four. My dad made a local team and coached me all the way up until my club soccer years. My first club team was the Dallas Texans. I started traveling 5 hours to Dallas and Frisco just to play my league games on the weekends, so it was a sacrifice I had to make, but it was all worth it. 1-2 years later, I joined FC Dallas’ Youth system and played in the Classic League. I played at Robert E. Lee High School in Midland, Texas. I was on Varsity since my Freshman year. Unfortunately, my sophomore year of High School I tore my left ACL and had to miss most of the season. I then went on to play my junior year. My senior year, I tore my right ACL and unfortunately had to sit out my entire senior year. I had surgery again and recovered just in time for collegiate soccer at the University of Texas of The Permian Basin. During preseason I re-tore my right ACL. I had surgery, recovered, but then started focusing more on FIFA and YouTube.
I read in your interview with FC Dallas that you started playing FIFA after your third ACL injury. Surely to be as good as you are, you were playing the game before you decided to start competitively. Was playing video games always a hobby of yours?
Playing FIFA was definitely a hobby of mine ever since I was in elementary school. My soccer mates and friends would always get together and play against each other and have tournaments. It was something I really enjoyed to play whenever I was not playing actual soccer because I just love soccer so much. FIFA, the video game, helped me learn more about the game of soccer. I would always try out new moves or passes that I would see in FIFA on the field. FIFA was a nice hobby to have as a soccer player because during the offseason or whenever I wasn’t playing actual soccer, I would start up FIFA and start playing. I believe many soccer players love to play FIFA.
With that, how did you decide to become a professional FIFA player? What is the process for those who didn’t know this e-world existed?
I got very fortunate with timing because, during my third ACL surgery recover, FIFA 17 introduced a new competitive game mode called “FUT Champions”. It is a competitive game mode where you play 40 games a weekend against the best players on your continent and compete with everyone from around the world. I started finishing in the Top 100 in the World leaderboard by winning 38, 39, or even 40 games out of the 40 we were required to play. It was no easy task by any means and it still continues to be very difficult. I then started qualifying for FIFA tournaments through FUT Champions and that’s how I made a name for myself. I posted YouTube videos and people started subscribing and really enjoying the content. In FIFA 18, the current FIFA, I did the same thing. The eMLS was introduced and luckily FC Dallas was able to scout me as a local Elite FIFA player and that’s how I signed my first professional contract. I stayed ranked among the best 100 players in the world. I qualified to the biggest tournament in Amsterdam hosted by EA Sports FIFA. It’s a continuous craft that I need to keep practicing and mastering.
When you saw other teams in MLS start to sign eMLS players, what were your thoughts? Did you initially reach out to FC Dallas about playing for them? How did the actual signing for you happen?
I have always brainstormed the idea of the eMLS becoming a thing long before it actually became an official thing. I saw other leagues around the world have their own FIFA leagues and it was something that I wanted to see in the USA and Canada with the MLS. When I found out about the eMLS actually becoming a thing, I was super excited because I knew that it would attract many people and that it was a great thing for competitive FIFA and the league. Like I stated in the previous question, FC Dallas did their scouting and found out about me through media sources and all of the FIFA rankings there are. They found out that I was a part of the actual FC Dallas youth program so it was just a great match for their program. I was invited to come down to Toyota Stadium and talk to everyone involved with FC Dallas and that’s where it all began.
Tell us more about the first eMLS Cup. I saw online that only current MLS players are available for teams. What were the other guidelines? How did you decide what squad to field? As a general fan, I didn’t know that you weren’t playing with the full FC Dallas squad. Tell us more about what goes into choosing the team you play with. How does your knowledge of playing soccer give you an advantage while playing people who maybe never have touched a ball in their life?
The first eMLS Cup was a success and a great experience. The guidelines were that we had to have three MLS players on the field at all times, two of which had to be from the MLS club you were representing. When I found out about this, I knew that I had to plan correctly and make a squad that would most benefit me. There is a lot that goes into making a squad to play with on FIFA. Many people want the fastest and most technical players.
In FIFA, there are 6 different categories that distinguish a player. There is Pace, Shooting, Passing, Dribbling, Defending, and Physical. As you can probably tell, everyone competing wants the players with the best overall attributes. FIFA has done a great job in making the game very realistic. This means that the players seem to perform as they would in real life.
Ronaldo, Messi, and Sergio Ramos are players that mostly everyone had on their squad in the eMLS. So if you are knowledgeable in soccer, making a squad in FIFA would become much easier because you will know what you are working with and how to use the players in each position to their best possible potential. I decided to use Kellyn Acosta and Urruti from FC Dallas because Kellyn had the physical and defending aspect of a midfielder and Urruti had the goal scoring ability. My third MLS player was Alessandrini because of his speed and ability to score. Many competitors selected Alessandrini for that exact reason.
How was the first eMLS Cup? What were the vibes like? Did you previously know any of the other eMLS players from the gaming community and your previous competitions?
The first eMLS cup was a great experience even though I was eliminated in the Western Conference Final. I definitely learned a lot and cannot wait for the next one. The vibes were great. Everyone was excited to get the first eMLS cup underway. It was an honor to be representing the club. Many players including myself played with immense passion for the club and wanted nothing but the best for all the fans and club. The vibes were honestly everywhere. Excitement, curiosity, anxiety, sadness, disappointment, thrill, and a whole lot of adrenaline was seen by everyone throughout the eMLS cup.
I did know most of the players from the online leaderboards, previous tournaments, or even social media. It was nice to be able to actually meet up with them in person and share a great experience. Some of them even knew me from watching my videos on YouTube so it was really nice being able to meet everyone that I hadn’t before.
So now that this tournament is over, what’s next for you? How long are you in a contract with FC Dallas in this position? What are your overall goals?
Now that the eMLS Cup is over, I need to focus on any major EA Sports tournaments I have. I also need to focus on being more active on social media whether it is via YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and even Snapchat to build a close community of great people. I also need to continue practicing a bit for whatever tournament is next. Most tournaments are over with for FIFA 18 so now I can take a little break and focus on starting strong in FIFA 19 in September.
I am in a contract with FC Dallas for a year but I’m hoping to sign again for the FIFA 19 season. There are many goals that I wish to accomplish. I want to win the eMLS Cup and any other major global tournaments. I also want to really build a community on YouTube and social media as a whole to help others in FIFA, their life, or whatever the case may be. Someone that they can look up to and enjoy being a part of the experiences.
For all of the aspiring eMLS players out there, what is one piece of advice you would give so that they could be the next eMLS player for their team?
One piece of advice that I would give to aspiring eMLS players is to never give up and learn from every loss. That is how you not only grow as a player but as a person as well.
And finally, if you could field your perfect 11 (not within the confines of eMLS Cup), who would your lineup be?
My perfect eleven would have to start off with David De Gea in goal. Marcelo at left back. Sergio Ramos and David Luiz at the center back positions. Kyle Walker at right back. Modric, Pogba, and Iniesta in the midfield. Messi, Ronaldo, and Neymar up top.
You can follow Alan Avila on Twitter at @AlanAvi_ to see everything he’s up to and keep an eye on his gaming!
Hey everybody! I would like to start off with thanking everybody for chillin’ on the FC Dallas content for awhile. Between a few moves and some trips, I had to take a short break. So, what happened in that time? Let’s take a QUICK trip down memory lane.
My last article concluded with a win against the LA Galaxy. Since then, the following major things have happened:
Dallas continues to be #2 in Western Conference and I am happy about this. We are still debating whether or not we are headed into that notorious “summer slump” but I’m not quite convinced that we are there yet. I’m still feeling confident and optimistic going into the summer.
Dallas lost to Sporting KC in the Open Cup. I’m not too terribly upset about this. With this loss, we cleared up our schedule from having to travel excessively which would absolutely take away focus from league play. Open Cup is great, but MLS Cup is what we have our eye on.
The loss to New York Red Bulls was something to witness. Literally, I got to witness this in person and I wish I could say I could forget it. Hopefully we have learned that playing 5 back should NEVER happen. Like, ever.
Matt Hedges is named to the All Star Team. Congratulations to him, but I could definitely do without this. I’m not a huge fan at the idea of my captain leaving to play a game that doesn’t matter with the potential to get hurt when we really need him in Dallas. Stay safe, Matty!
Oh, and Mauro Diaz is gone. Did I mention that our unicorn is gone? Dallas social media is up in arms about this because people are claiming we just let one of our best players go. My take? Good luck, Mauro! People keep thinking about pre-injury 2016 Mauro. He hasn’t been the same since and is way too injury prone. I would much rather see one of our other midfielders taking that position and making it theirs…. Say, like, Paxton Pomykal. I’m absolutely excited and hope to see him get some more time.
I hope this gives you a quick insight into the happenings with FC Dallas over the past month. However, something I would like to highlight is the fact that June 29th, FC Dallas played 6 homegrowns in their win over a scrappy Minnesota United.
I was supporting Germany this World Cup. As most people know, that didn’t turn out too well. However, I saw a tweet that said that people across the United States were now ripping up their German manuals on how to play soccer and trying to figure out how to play. This mentality is exactly what Dallas has been against under coach Oscar Pareja. I read that tweet and absolutely went back to the “Busca La Forma” philosophy that we hold onto so dear.
Papi always says that we shouldn’t tell our youth to play like people from other countries. We need to tell them they have their own way of doing things and we need to embrace finding the way that works for us. Seeing Dallas field 6 homegrownsabsolutely shows that we are practicing what we preach.
We are giving those who have come up through our own system the opportunity to show everyone what we are made of. Last night, we had Acosta, Cannon, Gonzalez, Pomykal, Reaves, and Ulloa on the field. This made FC Dallas the first in MLS to play six homegrowns. I’m not here for a game break down this go round (we will get back to that with Atlanta) but I do want people to reflect on what this means for Dallas and how it sets the standard for MLS.
Dallas has only lost two games this year and are actively playing people who came through our system. This allows Pareja to absolutely establish a certain type of play within the system. It is not a secret that he is active at Academy practices and brings in DA players to the first team practices.
You begin to have a fluidity that when you need players, they’re there already knowing the system and able to apply it in a game situation. We have seen this with the eagerness of some of our younger players, but the anchor some of the veteran players provide.
Ulloa has absolutely had a second coming under Pareja as he was a part of the Academy system that Pareja established. Papi gave him that chance to continue playing for Dallas and he has provided leadership and consistency.
I will always sing Kellyn Acosta’s praises. He is the face of Dallas, in my opinion. Coming through the system and applying it in a way to make him a staple in the midfield for the national team.
So, what could other teams learn from this?
I will say that I think the Red Bulls do a great job with following this same guide and you see them able to replace “key” players with their own without falling down the table. But, when we look at teams lower on the table, what are their Academies like? Are they relying on developing their own and bringing them into their first team, or are they trying to put together a puzzle with players who may cost a lot of money and are well known, but are not helping bring results.
I believe that we are starting to see the teams that follow the model of developing their Academies and signing homegrowns and then bringing them to actually have time on their first teams are going to be the clubs that succeed moving forward. I am a full believer that you can’t bring in a big name and continuously change your system to them and expect results. Instead, let’s look at Dallas and see that when you bring players through a system, the results come because you are developing your puzzle pieces rather than searching for them.
Congratulations to Kris Reaves on his MLS debut, Hollingshead on his 100th appearance, and Lamah on regaining most goals for FCD this season with his 7th goal. I look forward to giving y’all more Dallas content moving forward and more breakdowns of the games.
Karina and I met this past year at the annual Independent Supporters Council Conference in Vancouver, BC, Canada. We automatically became friends and have bonded over our love of soccer and Selena. She now serves as the President of Angel City Brigade, an independent supporters group for LA Galaxy.
After our game on Saturday, I reached out to her with some questions that I have had as an outsider looking in and trying to get her thoughts on the game.
BB: Hey girl! Thanks so much for being down for this. I think any time we can show supporters having a friendly discussion is always a plus. Anyways, I’m excited about this.
Okay, so let’s jump right in!
I have to admit, when you guys signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, I was incredibly upset. Not because I was jealous, but because I felt like this was just another instance of 1. LA Galaxy flexing its money muscles and 2. The overall look of players from European Premier League not super in the prime coming to MLS for a new beginning. What were your thoughts when you guys finally made the deal?
KC: So, this was a rumor for a few seasons now. At first, I didn’t pay much attention because I didn’t know if/ when this would finally happen but a friend/ reliable source mentioned it to me a few days before the deal was finalized. Given the nature of his career and success, I was stoked, but I was also afraid because he hadn’t played in so long and I didn’t know how his personality would mesh with the rest of the team.
BB: Now that you’ve had him for a couple of games, do you think the investment was worth it/will continue to be worth it?
KC: I definitely think it was worth it. We had lots of games last season where our midfield and defense would play their role, we just didn’t have confident forwards to fulfill the goals we needed to capture the wins. There are no words to describe how “worth it” he was/is during his debut, helping the team come back from a 0-3 deficit to beat the new team in town. I was crying in the stands, “I LOVE YOU, ZLATAN!”
BB: So, something I’ve come to on my own conclusion is that a lot of these big name players don’t affect the gameplay as much as other acquisitions. For example, in Chicago, I will always stand by the signing of Dax McCarty being a much bigger influence on their midfield than Bastian Schweinsteiger. I get that one brings in a lot more money than the other, but do you think there were any other signings for Galaxy this year that have made a bigger impact for you guys?
KC: Yes. Ola Kamara! Not a huge surprise, considering his stats with the Crew. He has shown heart and dedication since preseason and has continued to do so. He even got a goal on FC Dallas.
BB: Okay, I agree. Ola Kamara was a solid acquisition. I hope to see Zlatan deliver to him up more. I know they’re still working out the kinks and you could see that in the game this past weekend. Once both of them get a little more time together, I think they will both be able to work better at the connection piece.
Saturday, May 12: FC Dallas 3 – LA Galaxy 2
BB: Okay, so let’s start about the game. FC Dallas saw a glimpse of glory with Diaz coming back and making 3 assists for our team. For someone who has been starting on the bench and who has, for the most part, not been as consistent since THE injury (referring back to 2016), this was refreshing to see.
Not to mention Roland Lamah putting two balls in the back of the net for us. Were there any standout plays to you on your side? Reto Ziegler got his second caution in the 73rd minute ultimately sending him off the field and Dallas down a man. I really didn’t agree with it, but I’m not the ref. However, I do think this helped give you guys momentum for your second goal. What are your thoughts on all of it?
KC: To be honest, after the first Urruti goal, I was like, “Okay, here we go with 2017 all over again.” Dallas playing with 10 men seemed to have an influential drive for the Galaxy. They started attacking and eventually, Boateng landed that second goal- which helped the team feel like we were still in the game. Alessandrini and Zlatan both had shots that hit the post, so there was still hope that we’d get a shot in for the tie. Towards the end of the match, I thought we’d tie.
BB: Okay, and lastly… I know you joke about keeping the Wooden Spoon (Independent Supporters Council trophy for worst overall record in the league… the less spectacular sibling of the Supporters Shield), but I really don’t think you’ll have it again. If I’m being completely honest, I think that will be reserved for Seattle this year and I’m not sad about it.
However, I feel like you guys are definitely seeing a little more consistency this year overall. What are your thoughts after last year (I mean, I feel like Dallas ended well enough to share that trophy with you)?
KC: I haven’t completely lost hope in our season. I do joke about it but we still have a few months to get it together. Last year was a combination of bad coaching, poor defense, no performing strikers. We have a bit more consistency with scorers– we just have to get our team to defend the last 15 minutes of each game. We will come back– even if it’s just for a brief playoff appearance.
First off, congratulations on being a part of the success of FC Dallas in the 2018 season. I honestly can say that without you, I’m not sure we would be the only undefeated team in Major League Soccer. FC Dallas had one of the most notable meltdowns in MLS history last year and fans weren’t sure what would happen this season. I don’t think we expected to have this start to the season, to say the least. However, I would like to put a lot of that credit to you.
I know you know your own journey to Dallas, but for others, I would like to give some background. You were drafted by the New York Red Bulls in the MLS Supplemental Draft in 2011 but never received a contract (minus the one day contract you were signed to). In my opinion, their loss. I get that journeys are a thing, though, and before long, you were in the NASL.
I would like to jump to your New York Cosmos years. First off, I’ll go on the record and say that New York will always be green. I started following the Cosmos with one of my friends who grew up in New York and started following them with the revival of the NASL.
However, from the time I started watching, I knew you were something special. You had plenty of shutouts and multiple championships with the Cosmos. I loved watching you and your interactions with the fans. At the time, Dallas was not getting that type of love from our team, even though we were finding success.
You seemed like a player of the people. You understood the culture of soccer inside and out. And then it happened… you signed a one-game contract with FC Dallas. You didn’t play that game, but I begged my club for a Maurer jersey. Never did I think the next season you would be our starting goalkeeper.
The fallout of the NASL in the American soccer season is a sad story within itself, but the acquisition of you was the best thing that came out of it for Dallas. I remember when the news dropped… like it was yesterday. I was sitting in JFK International Airport and waiting for a flight to Zurich. My phone blew up, and so did I. You were ours. I was a little unsure of how the transition to MLS would go, but I believed in you. I knew you would make it work.
Now, let’s be honest. The beginning of the season was a little rocky. I think that transition period had people scratching their heads if you would be able to cut it in MLS, but I always knew you would come out on top. With Seitz sold to Houston and Gonzalez injured, you were getting the starts and we had you in goal starting day one of the 2018 season.
Now, we are sitting back on your 540 minutes of gameplay with FC Dallas, and this is what I will take to my grave: You are the goalkeeper we needed and the one we don’t deserve. Starting with the first game, you have given us the consistency in goal where we can expect over 100% to be given to stop every ball.
In 6 games, we already have seen 3 shutouts and only 3 goals allowed with 21 saves. In my opinion, that is pretty solid for ANY keeper. But, combine this with your leadership on the field and communication to the back line, and you guys have become a wall of defense to reckon with. You are friendly with the fans and show your support to the supporters on a regular basis. You are one of us.
Now, let’s talk about this double save last night. Without a closer look, it just looks like a normal save. HOWEVER, from the Garden and upon closer look on film, we see the following:
This should be in the running for save of the year. This is beyond sheer athleticism. This save shows your heart for the game, for the team, and your determination on the field. I really just think the video says it all.
Anyways, I will wrap this up, but I appreciate your journey and that it brought you to us in Dallas. After last year, I was not sure we deserved somebody with your heart and dedication, but you are everything we needed. You have given us hope, consistency, and leadership to bring new life to the team. For that, I will forever be grateful for you.
I cannot wait to see how the rest of the season goes. I know that no goal will get past you without you giving everything you have to stop it. Thank you, Jimmy.
If I’m being completely honest here, I didn’t get to watch much of the game even though I was at the game. That meant that I got to go back and re-watch it on Sunday to see everything the FC Dallas vs Colorado Rapids game had to offer. As always, there are things that I liked and didn’t like — this is the plight of the fan. However, I can’t help but think about a few specific things, and for these, I am breaking down the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The Good – Diaz to Colman
It finally happened. IT FINALLY HAPPENED. We were always told they were supposed to work together. The unicorn was going to magically get Cristian Colman the ball and this was our future. However, this never came to fruition. Mauro Diaz was out on injury or not in form to play a full game. Colman never got the start. If one was on, the other was off.
Fans felt that we were never going to see this connection that was supposed to be there. On Saturday, we finally saw it. Diaz crossed a beautiful ball into the far post and Colman connected with a header to equalize the game. Will we see this again? Who knows. But, for once, we saw this thing that was only spoken of as a possibility.
Our defense is consistent as well. I love the combination of Nedyalkov, Ziegler. Hedges, and Cannon in the back. They’re a solid back line. Hedges is doing his job of communicating and being the captain we need him to be.
Did Colorado score on us? Yes. But, they did what they should have in a 2 on 1 situation. I even think Hedges did well pushing a little more forward once Cannon came off. I firmly believe the consistency and communication from our defense is why we haven’t lost yet.
The Bad – Pareja, Diaz, and Much More…
Can Óscar Pareja command the field as the coach we need him to be? This is the question I find myself asking. I see some of the substitutes he makes and I am left scratching my head. I can say that I no longer can tell if he has lost the team, if he doesn’t have the personnel he needs, or if it is something else.
Pareja has respect in the FC Dallas community beyond measure and the team really seems to respond to him. However, is the relationship Pareja has made with people off the field ever going to come back to the field? I think we will really see by the end of the season.
A Few Quick Takes
I am over the Tesho Akindele experiment. I need him to make a difference with the minutes he gets on the field, and quite frankly, he is just another body to me at this point. That’s all I really have to say about him.
2016 pre-injury Mauro Diaz may never come back. Actually, I think he is gone.
Carlos Gruezo needs to step up. At this point, I would prefer Jacori Hayes on the field over him every game. I already wrote about my love for Hayes previously, but if you look at the charts from the game on Saturday, you will see that for playing essentially the same spot, Hayes makes a much larger impact.
Even though FC Dallas is undefeated, we are 7th in the Western Conference. We have had 4 home games already with only one win. The issue is NOT shooting. Let that be known. The issue is FINISHING.
Out of 17 shots on Saturday, Tim Howard only had to make 4 saves. That is unacceptable to me. We have to get our shots on target and finish. Why does this matter? We are about to go on the road with our first away game against New England Revolution this Saturday.
FC Dallas is notorious for not getting points on the road. If we want to make the playoffs this year, we must connect through the field and put the ball in the back of the net. I’ll be interested to see how we do when we visit Boston (Foxborough… whatever) this weekend. I think it will be very telling of how we will fare on the road this year.
In the “real world”, I am a coach and I preach that offense wins games and defense wins championships. I would like to be proven correct this season by how our defense plays. However, FC Dallas needs more than just defense to be able to compete or we will end a mid-table team. This should not be where we, as a community, should settle.
I hope to see the team connect more in the top ⅓ of the field and hopefully start winning more than drawing.
Featured image of Cristian Colman courtesy: @FCDallas