For the second time this week, we exchanged three questions with an opposing SB Nation blogger to get a fresh perspective on the team that D.C. United will be facing. In this edition, we turn to Daniel Robertson of Big D Soccer to find out more about FC Dallas.
B&RU: How is FC Dallas adjusting in the aftermath of David Ferreira's injury?
bDs: Well FCD came from behind to win 2-1 in Vancouver after Ferreira left the game and they defeated first-place Los Angeles 2-1 without Ferreira. There’s no doubt that he will eventually be missed badly, but right now FC Dallas looks alright. They haven’t changed around a whole lot, simply moving Eric Avila into the attacking midfield role that Ferreira possessed and while Avila isn’t really as good as Ferreira at anything, he provides the same type of player and he looked pretty decent against the Los Angeles Galaxy.
The biggest change has been moving Brek Shea back to left mid and he’s absolutely on fire scoring two goals in his last three games and lighting up the practice field. Look for Dallas to try and get the ball to Eric Avila who will look to link up with Shea and Marvin Chavez streaking down the wings.
B&RU: Give us one under-the-radar player to watch out for.
bDs: He won’t really be that under-the-radar to D.C. United fans, but Andrew Jacobson has quietly been coming along playing in the linking role between Daniel Hernandez and Avila in the center of the FC Dallas midfield. Having started the last three games, Jacobson and Hernandez are really coming into a comfort zone with each other while AJ’s size and athleticism causes problems for opposing defenses (see Jacobson’s assist on Fabian Castillo’s goal last weekend).
I remember last year that Eric Alexander, playing in the same role that Jacobson will play on Saturday, scored a goal and added an assist in the Dallas win at D.C. last season, so Jacobson is definitely one to watch on Saturday.
B&RU: Does FCD feel like they "won" the Dax McCarty trade? Oh wait. Dallas wasn't involved in the trade? They gave away McCarty for nothing? That sucks. Let me rephrase then. Does FCD miss Dax McCarty?
bDs: Oh there’s no doubt about it. I think Dallas is finally beginning to find their identity again, but losing Dax was a big blow for Dallas. I’ve put a lot of blame on FC Dallas technical director Barry Gorman for letting Dax McCarty go for nothing in the off-season, even If it was inevitable that Dallas would lose him. McCarty’s skill set is almost perfectly suited for the linking mid role in Frisco and his service on free kicks has been sorely missed.
While Dallas didn’t "win" the Dax McCarty trade, it was a part of the master plan that brought Fabian Castillo to Frisco so I guess it’s still a wait and see thing on that one.
bDs: D.C. United has given up the most goals in the league by quite a margin. What is the problem with the D.C. defense and how can they fix it?
B&RU: United has let a couple of games get away from them, there's no doubt about that. With so much youth along the back line and in goal, we're not surprised to see them making some mistakes, but we just have to hope that they'll improve as the year goes on. Certainly at least the chemistry and communication will. The defense did much better Wednesday night though against the Seattle Sounders when Perry Kitchen was moved out to the right. The rookie is supposed to be the leader of United's defense, but he'd struggled in the middle ever since returning from U-20 World Cup Qualifying. Against Seattle, he seems to have benefitted from having a little bit less responsibility, and was easily our best defender on the night.
bDs: Are D.C. fans as torn up about the season-ending injury to Boskovic as FC Dallas fans are about Ferreira’s injury? Is this a big blow to United or will they be able to survive losing a DP?
B&RU: Its a big blow to our playoff hopes, but Branko Boskovic isn't nearly as important to D.C. as David Ferreira is to Dallas. Boskovic wasn't even starting most matches, but the injury occurred just as he was beginning to find himself and looked poised to make an impact in MLS. Ben Olsen seems to have been using similar strategies with both Boskovic and Andy Najar - holding them out of the regular starting 11 until he felt they were ready. Fitness was rumored to be the reason for each, but I think there may have been some motivational aspect to it as well. For Najar, that paid dividends as he's now looking like the Rookie Of The Year Najar we were used to seeing in 2010. For Boskovic though, it backfired as United lost him for the season in an Open Cup Qualifying match.
bDs: What is it about Josh Wolff and Charlie Davies at RFK that is so tough for opposing teams to deal with right now?
B&RU: Both of the goals Wednesday night came from perfect runs to finish precise crosses. Wolff and Davies are both really smart players, and they both like putting on a show in front of the home crowd. The question for me is why can't these two former national teamers get it done on the road too? Some thought that Davies' early success was a bit of a fluke since so many of his goals were coming on penalties, but I think his performance against the Sounders proved that wrong.