1. How’s the team’s motivation after falling out of CCL in the knockout rounds? Will we see a team that’s extremely motivated after an unfortunate result, or will we instead see a team with heads down?
This is going to be fascinating to watch because the team knows they didn’t play well on Wednesday night. They may have gotten a win in the end but not advancing was certainly a massive disappointment and let down. Will it play a factor in Saturday’s game? I think so, as this team just doesn’t seem to be mentally there just yet given how early we are into the season.
I also think that some moments on Wednesday night felt a lot like last season for this bunch. You could see it in their body language and just how they were playing in general. If RSL can take an early lead in this one, they could find a result as I just don’t know if this FCD bunch as the mental toughness just yet to grind out a result.
2. Obviously, RSL has never fared particularly well in Dallas. What will be the key for Dallas to continue this excellent run of results?
Usually, it came down to weather for most of these results. That won’t be the case in this game as we’re expecting mid-60s weather that will be pleasant for all involved. I think the other factor in the past was always speed on the wings, which Dallas still has a great deal of still today. Newcomer Santiago Mosquera is going to be a factor for a lot of teams this season as he might be the second coming of Fabian Castillo for this team on the wings.
3. In some ways, it seems like RSL and FC Dallas swapped places after your demolition of us last year. How has Oscar Pareja worked to counteract the slide you saw in the second half of 2017?
There was a pretty big roster turnover this offseason, especially in the defense which was a strength of the team early in 2017. The team gave up a lot of goals in the final 15 games of the season, including a couple blowout losses along the way. Newcomers like Anton Nedyalkov and Reto Ziegler are tasked with helping solidify the defense again with Matt Hedges and Homegrown right back Reggie Cannon.
Outside of that for Pareja, it is all about getting the chemistry that was working so well in 2015 and 2016 back. Some how he lost it along the way in 2017 and couldn’t find the recipe to return to it and the team suffered for it. I’m not confident that the good chemistry has truly returned yet based on what we’ve seen in the preseason and in the Champions League. At times this team looked great but at times they still looked disjointed and sloppy.
Cannon - Hedges - Ziegler - Figueroa
Gruezo - Hayes
Barrios - Diaz - Mosquera