RSL's Kwame Watson-Siriobe is one of the guys I expect to make a big difference on Saturday when FC Dallas comes to Rio Tinto Stadium. (Photo by Jessica Haydahl/Getty Images)
After some time away it is once again nice to visit an old staple of prematch prep, the exchange of 3 questions with a blogger who represents the opponents point of view. This time it is Big D Soccer's Daniel Robertson who was good enough to indulge us with his views on a couple questions about FC Dallas, so let's get started with my questions for him:
1) I have to ask it, what is the real deal with Brek Shea? I heard one person this week put it in a rather shocking way on the radio, that he was simply bored playing at FC Dallas and in MLS where he considers most people too slow of foot and mind to play with him. Is he ever going to be a factor for FC Dallas again?
A) "Everyone's got a different opinion on what the deal with Brek was, but I think the smartest argument, and what Schellas Hyndman said over and over again, was that everything got to be too much for him. The Olympic failure, the struggles with FC Dallas, the nagging turf toe injury he was carrying(which he only recently admitted to) and possibly being played out of position up at target forward.
The verbal exchange with Schellas Hyndman was the most public of the problems but it was really just the tip of the iceberg. What FC Dallas did was basically shut him down for a week to try and release all of his pressure and get back to what he does best which is play a happy-go-lucky style bombing down the left wing.
And it seems to have worked wonders. Shea has been very good the last two games since returning and of course everyone saw his play at Azteca. RSL should really look out this weekend because Shea coupled with an in-form Ferreira and Castillo could be deadly.
Whoever said that he was bored playing with FCD is just not informed. It was never anything like that or anything to do with his teammates. If anything, Shea was frustrated because he WASN'T able to lead his team when they needed him most while Blas and Ferreira were out."
more Q&A after the jump:
2) Anyone who has watched David Ferreira play the last couple matches knows how important of a player he is to FC Dallas, but it seems that as good as he is that his real value might be how good he makes everyone else on the team, who most is impacted by his return?
A) "Yes that's absolutely a fair statement and without a doubt the player biggest impacted by Ferreira is fellow Colombian Fabian Castillo. The 20-year-old has absolutely shined in the last month with three goals and two assists in his last six games. The knock on Castillo was always that he was all speed and no final product with some incredible runs on the ball that would never produce a goal or an assist.
With Ferreira to coach him around the pitch, Castillo has come into his own on the right wing and presents a pick-your-poison option. If you double team Ferreira, you leave Castillo open 1v1 with almost no defender in the league able to keep up with his pace. If you double team Castillo, Ferreira has room to operate which is obviously something you don't want."
3) I told people a few months ago after a RSL vs FCD reserve match that I thought Jonathan Top was going to be a big time player for FC Dallas, he got his first goal on Wednesday night in Vancouver. Tell me more about him and what you think his future might be with the team?
A) "Yes and he did the same thing to RSL in a reserve game in Frisco too! *Shameless Plug* you can read my story from yesterday on Jon Top http://www.fcdallas.com/news/
Perhaps the best thing for RSL/USA fans is Top is a major part of the preparations for the 2013 U20 World Cup Qualifying coming up later this year and seems to be firing on all cylinders as he challenges for a starting forward spot on the USA squad. The sky is the limit for Top, though he still has a long way to go to be an everyday MLS player."
4) Injuries have plagued FC Dallas this year, what is the latest Injury update for the team?
A) "Yeah, it's been pretty ridiculous. Starting forward Blas Perez is still probably a week or two away from returning for FC Dallas, he's been out since injuring himself with Panama during World Cup Qualifying way back in early June. Ugo Ihemelu probably won't play again this season with concussion issues and unfortunately may never play again which would be a shame.
Other than that, there's not so many major injuries as just tired and banged up players. FCD played a VERY rough match on the turf in Vancouver on Wednesday night in which the Whitecaps committed 24 fouls and 6 yellow cards so everyone is a bit banged up. One interesting player to track will be FCD's Brazilian Jackson who has missed the last few games with concussion symptoms but could return in a substitute role on Saturday.
Also, Dallas will be missing central midfielder Andrew Jacobson on Saturday due to yellow card accumulation. The replacement for Jacobson will likely be Julian de Guzman who will be moved from defensive midfield up to central midfield with Daniel Hernandez behind him."
I love that Daniel is as blunt and honest about his team as I am about ours, here are my answers to his questions:
1) What's the focus for RSL right now because it seems like San Jose might be a little bit too far to catch with 5 points and a game in had, but LA isn't a huge threat either below you. Is the feeling that RSL is locked into the 2 seed and have things been a little bit listless lately with the losing skid?
A) "I think if you look at the table it is 5 points between RSL and San Jose and while I don't think the Supporters' Shield holds the prestige it did when teams at least played every other team twice, it would be a nice goal. Realistically it comes down to two things, finish in one of the top 3 spots in the conference (avoid the wildcard match) and win our Champions League Group. I do think that for RSL things broke their way earlier in the year, and we know that often that balances out over the season and my hope is that we are back in balance and we can just get back to playing the game and having the results not base themselves on bad calls, bad bounces, but more on the play of the teams."
2) Alvaro Saborio seems to be as hot and cold of a forward as there is in the league. How is his form right now?
A) "I would agree with you and a lot of RSL fans think it is that his work rate isn't nearly high enough, I on the other hand think he works hard each match based on what his role is but clearly I do think that he is a guy who takes some time in the season to get going. Traditionally he has been a player who just starts to hit form in July/August, and I think that is also the case this year.
All of that being said, he is in good form, but with him still having knee issues I don't expect that we will see him start against FC Dallas on Saturday, he went 90 minutes for Costa Rica on Wednesday in their loss to Peru, so when you combine that with travel and with RSL having a Champions League match on Tuesday. I would expect that we will see Fabian Espindola and most likely Justin Braun (maybe Paulo Jr.) up top, in fact I would be fairly surprised if he is even in the 18 man roster for the match."
3) It seems like Javier Morales has been good, but not great this season while Ferreira was able to basically come straight back into MVP form after 15 months out. Is Morales the same player he was before his injury, how is his season going and is he an injury concern as he's listed as questionable for the game?
A) "I would agree with you that something just doesn't seem right with Javier Morales and for me I think the difference is that it seems like he rushed back to action, when he came back at the end of last year I thought it was a mistake then and I still think it is a mistake that has impacted him ever since. Now clearly the doctors cleared him to play last year and for RSL I think a big push was to help him out mentally with his recovery, but it was clear that he was tentative in how he played last year and I think that is more dangerous than playing hurt. When a player holds back it often means they are open to worse injuries because of their either deliberate or unintentional changes in how they move, how they tackle and how they respond. To start this season Javi was still hurt and only saw limited action in most of RSL's first 8 matches, just one 90 minute performance, and since then he has suffered from two things that have impacted that return to form.
First, he has picked up several minor injuries that have either kept him out of matches, or from playing at 100%. Even RSL head coach Jason Kreis said that for Javier to be at his best he has to be the fittest player on the pitch. He is right and that hasn't been the case this year. Second, several teams have simply targeted him for what we are calling Hack-a-Javi, where someone is simply kicking him in the ankles every time the ball is near him. The shame is that despite MLS's edict last year to protect the offensive playmakers from those types of tactics, after the injuries to Javi, David and Steve Zakuani, little has actually been done.
I think the fact that FC Dallas has been a lot more patient than RSL is probably due to the fact that RSL is aware they are an aging team and wanted to try to ensure that they could make big runs this year in both MLS and Champions League. I will say that since David has come back and it doesn't look like he has missed a step, now some of that could be that he simply has lifted those around him up from the depths of their rough start, but it sure makes clear that he is a very special player."
4) Bonus: Who's a lesser-known RSL player that could have a big impact on Saturday?
A) "There are two that I will offer up, the first is Kwame Watston-Siriboe who will be starting at centerback for the injured Jamison Olave. He is a younger player that we signed from the Chicago Fire as a project player for C.J. Brown to work with and eventually become a bigger part of RSL's team, but injuries and suspensions have pushed him into action and while he played no minutes in MLS last year, he already has 5 starts since joining RSL. He is a big, strong, physical back who has simply stepped up and been very impressive as he adapts to the RSL back line.
Second is a guy who may be known but has struggled this year, Paulo Jr., he was expected to be a guy who pushed Fabian Espindola and Alvaro Saborio for starting minutes this year, and the first month of the season he was one of our starting forwards but then as others got healthy and in form his minutes dropped off and eventually last month lead to him being sent out on loan. He came back to RSL a couple weeks ago, and impressed the coaching staff enough that he was back in the 18 and the forward of choice coming off the bench last weekend. He seems to have regained his confidence on and off the ball and that could be a great thing for RSL, not so much for FC Dallas, not sure if he will start or come off the bench, but when he gets on the pitch you will want to keep your eyes on him."
There you go folks a little something for a Friday afternoon to help get you ready for the big match Saturday evening at Rio Tinto Stadium, be there early and be loud when you get there. Believe RSL.
OFF MY SOAPBOX