RSL Soapbox) Fabian Castillo started the season on fire. What has happened since then?
Big D Soccer) He stated starving. Mauro Diaz has been in and out of the lineup. Blas Perez has mostly been out with his national team during the Gold Cup. The service supplying Fabian has dried up, and he has started getting desperate trying to make it on his own. I think part of it is also fatigue at this point of the season. Fabian leads the team in minutes played, beat out only by Victor Ulloa who has played 123 more minutes than the young Colombian.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Fabian rested during this match against RSL. Historically, Real has not performed well in Frisco, so it is a good opportunity to let Castillo replenish his legs. As always, FCD keeps these sort of decisions very close to the chest, so we won't know for sure until Saturday.
RSL Soapbox) It looks like many of FC Dallas' players are playing out of position. How weak does that make them defensively and can RSL's bolstered attack take advantage?
Big D Soccer) It makes the team very weak, as we've seen these past few weeks losing at last-place Chicago and suffering narrow losses to LA and Vancouver. That little bit of edge could have been the difference between 3 points or 1 point or even zero points. Unfortunately, this is worse case scenario for FC Dallas. Seeing players out of position gives me butter-leather nightmares of the days when Schellas was at the helm. If Oscar Pareja were not so devoted to the youth on this team, I would worry that the team overall was taking a step backward, but that's not the case. I believe that Oscar is trying to do the best with what he has at his disposal. He is getting creative, trying to see if maybe this guy can play there or vice versa. Zach Loyd has been shifted back and forth between centerback and fullback that I don't even know which is his "natural position" anymore. The backline in particular has seen a plethora of midfielders filling in. It puts additional pressure on Kellyn Acosta and Victor Ulloa in midfield, while they are still developing as young homegrown players.
Some of the veteran attackers on RSL's roster can certainly take advantage when they see players hesitate because maybe they aren't playing the position that they prefer or have the best skill set for.
RSL Soapbox) Has FC Dallas' popularity been growing or remained steady over the past few years and why?
Big D Soccer) Up until this season, FCD's popularity has been growing steadily. I think this is thanks to the front office forging a defined identity under the youth banner as well as the Supporters Groups growing numbers in and out of the stadium. DFW is full of soccer fans, and many are finally waking up to MLS in their backyards.
However, we have seen attendance at Toyota Stadium tank this year. Some of it will be blamed on the extreme weather earlier this season or the inconvenient Friday game nights forced upon fans through the new television deal. While there is some truth to those excuses, the bottom line always comes back to the front office and what they have or haven't done to help put butts in seats. There is little marketing done for the club outside of social media. There is little to no major media visibility for FC Dallas, so it is still an uphill climb for fans who pour their money, time, and energy into the club. FCD has only had 1 sellout crowd so far in 2015, and that was earlier this month against the LA Galaxy and their stable of stars including Mexico International, Gio Dos Santos.
I'm not sure what the future holds. FCD is restructuring how tickets are valued. i.e. some sections increasing in price drastically while others drop or stay steady. It seems like the days of Groupon and Living Social deals are behind the team. The front office promises that it will all make sense in time, but many fans are grumbling about footing the bill while some magical justification floats off in the distance.
For RSL Soapbox's answers to BIg D Soccer's questions, go here.