In this week's 3 Questions, we talked to Big D Soccer contributor Brian Wachholz about the Friday night match in Frisco. For my side of the conversation, and for their coverage of the match, visit their website.
OaM: Dallas rattled off 3 straight wins, hit a rough patch, and now have seemed to get back on track going 3-0-1 over the last four. Why has Dallas been up and down to start the year?
BDS: Oscar Pareja has a very clear vision of what he wants to do with these players, and the players have bought into his scheme. He runs a program where each player is expected to step up and before when called upon. Saying that, this team shed some weight over the offseason, and there's been some rust when new or substitute players hit the field. Matt Hedges missed a couple of games with a knock, and it's obvious FCD needs him on the field. Centerback depth is shallow and inexperienced. Stephen Keel is the veteran defensive sub, but he's still a few weeks from returning from a foot injury suffered last August.
Once that rust has been knocked off however, FCD looks like a humming engine with replaceable parts. Despite a small lull in results a few weeks ago when Matt was out, Walker Zimmerman and Je-Vaughn Watson seamlessly replaced the normal duo Hedges and Loyd against the Galaxy last week.
OaM: Has anyone been able to handle Fabian Castillo this season? If so, how?
BDS: The Portland Timbers did the best job of neutralizing Fabian Castillo. They have young, fast wingers and smart, experienced defenders centrally. Nagbe and Powell made up the right wing, aged 24 and 20 respectively. Castillo had a tough time one on one against Portland's technical midfield. Nagbe had to defend more than he probably likes, but it kept Castillo off of the scoreboard. New York will need to put speed up against Fabian if they hope to repeat Portland's shut down. The Colombian youngster leads the league in successful dribbles. So any defender who hopes to beat him needs that technical ability too.
OaM: Who isn't getting talked about much outside Dallas that we should be watching?
BDS: Victor Ulloa is a homegrown player from North Texas who the previous coach cut. When Oscar Pareja took over the locker room, he invited Vic to come back for a trial. Ulloa hasn't stopped working since. He has been very quietly and tirelessly maintaining the midfield defensive line for FCD. I think he's played every minute or at least very nearly every minute so far this season. He takes an immense amount of pressure off of both the boys behind him and in front of him on the field. He's doesn't receive a lot of attention, but the fact is that Mauro Diaz when see much less of the ball without Vic. This is a position that FC Dallas has struggled to fill since Daniel Hernandez retired at the end of 2012. Off the field, he's always smiling. He's a player who figures to be a long term face of this club, and we're happy to have him.