While Jason Kreis is trying to reason out how best to cope with the absences of several (read: a bunch) of key players, FC Dallas will be missing a few, too. Does that worry you, or are you more sure in your footing given that RSL will be without, oh, something on the order of 10-plus players?
I think FCD is pretty confident walking into this one. The team has their home record against RSL as well as the many absences y'all are facing. Over the off-season, the FO added siginifcant depth to our squad and anticipated losing players like Blas Perez and Raul Fernandez to international call-ups. Additionally, the win against Houston last weekend has really put a fire in our cannon!
Expect to see a fully charged FC Dallas squad pushing hard for 3 points.
What is it about Texas - and specifically Dallas - that's kept Real Salt Lake with such woeful performances? A response along the lines of, "It's not you - it's me" would be nice, but I'm not sure the whole thing can be blamed on one (albeit large) state.
I can kind of grant your wish.... I think it is all in RSL's head, and both clubs feed off of this trend.
Jason Kreis is still the leading goal scorer for Dallas. Since making the transition to coaching, he hasn't been able to get the result in Dallas, so it has become this mental mountain. On the flip-side, the FCD players know that history is on their side and that a loss at home would be historic. Nobody wants to be that team. I don't expect the trend to change this year, but stranger things have happened. Hell, we lost to Chivas USA.
Real Salt Lake's academy is purportedly one of the best (this remains to be seen, as we still haven't had any players net first team minutes)s, but your FC Dallas homegrown players have been highly successful in their own right. How much of your club's future relies on HGPs, and how important will it be for those players to get first-team minutes?
FC Dallas' future depends heavily on home grown players. The club has put an enormous amount of time and energy into the Academy setup. The Dallas Cup is played here; it is one of the premier youth tournaments in the world. To a certain extent, FC Dallas has a reputation to uphold, but it also just makes smart business sense to be self-sufficient. The Hunt family has been in the sports business for decades and has learned a few things.
FC Dallas performed their first ever HGP cleanse at the end of last season. They let several players go, and I think those guys were a victim to being the first class of HGPs more so then any other factor. The Academy teams have had incredible performances and achieved results worthy of professional contracts. The expectation was that they would be able to play on the first team or at least show well enough to be sold. When things became stagnant, FCD cut bait. I think this sets an example to those that remain - that this is a real full time job and it's incredibly competitive. I can't imagine being a 17, 18, 19 year old kid and becoming a professional athlete. No one wants to be the guinea pig on a new process, but somebody has to be.
The adjustment from Academy to Pro is still being worked out by the players as well as the club.
I think FC Dallas is going to figure out how to smooth the process, prepare the players for pro life, and I think you will see huge things come from FC Dallas HGPs in the next full years.
And, of course, here are my answers to questions from Brian.
What will it take for RSL to break the curse and win at FC Dallas Stadium?
Ah, well, if I knew that, I'd have a million-dollar idea on my hands, I suspect. It's a continual mystery. I mean, it'll take some confidence, some good form on the road, and some well-oiled attack to pull it off, but it always seems there's something more lacking, even when those things are around. One thing's certain, though: It'll take a lot more than a handful of starters and a squad full of less-used players to do it. Damn you, international "break."
Real Salt Lake wanders into FC Dallas Stadium a bit depleted. Which player should FC Dallas be watching out for that they may not be familiar with? Will we see Jason Kreis make a comback on the pitch?
"A bit" only touches the very surface, I think. We're missing players as follows: Balchan (maybe), Beckerman, Beltran, Mansally, Morales, Rimando, Saborio, Salcedo, Stephenson (maybe), Viana, Velasquez and Wingert. There's one player on the bench you're definitely not familiar with, though: Olmes Garcia. Of course, that presumes he makes the bench, but given that we could have 12 players out, he'd be one of 18 remaining players.
Garcia's a strong, fast, skillful and very, very raw striker. In RSL's most recent reserve match, he was far and away the best attacking player on the pitch during his 45 minute substitute appearance. I don't know that he'll see time, but if he does, maybe watching out is a good idea. Enzo Martinez might also feature, which would be good for the kid's confidence, but I don't know if he'd be worth watching out for or not - he's still very much untested.
Still running on the theme of a depleted team here: how has the departure of Fabian Espindola and Jamison Olave to New York impacted the squad, on and off the field? Is this a rebuilding year?
It's really hard to say what the long-term impact will be, but short-term, it's actually been a positive transition. RSL's early record isn't fantastic, but the overall depth of the squad is remarkable. Imagine, if you will, if this major injury build-up had happened in 2012 - Jason Kreis would be looking at a grand total of 14 of 26 players available for the match. There's a little bit of a rebuilding feel, but the additional solidity across the pitch could be a saving grace in 2013.
It's a difficult question to answer, but the most recent pronunciations of his name drop the "kwe," so let's go with that. You won't have to say it much, though, as it seems he's taken ill and will miss the match.