It’s the third game for Real Salt Lake in a week. RSL has always struggled away to Dallas, so this game will be a major test for the team. We reached out to Drew Epperley of Big D Soccer to get some insight ahead of this game.
FC Dallas has been a bit more inconsistent in 2019 than what we’re used to seeing, but they’re still above the playoff line. How would you rate their season so far?
Right now if you had told me back in January when Luchi Gonzalez had just taken over this team from Oscar Pareja, that his team would be this young on a consistent basis, his new formation and system would actually work out well enough to keep them in the playoff hunt by summertime, I would have thought it was a bit of a lie. I know at the beginning of the season I thought that as long as the returning core of the team held up their end of things, this group would be fine but really it has been a lot of the younger core leading the charge. Jesus Ferreira, Paxton Pomykal, Brandon Servania, Edwin Cerrillo and others like Reggie Cannon are the main reason why this team is where they are at right now. They’ve had plenty of ups and downs already, which was expected out of this group but I think the last few weeks have actually shown us a good glimpse of what really is to come with this group. So overall, I’d give them a passing grade of a B-, they have plenty to work on but they haven’t had a super long stretch of struggles like we saw under Pareja the last two years either.
The goalscoring from Dallas has been very similar to RSL, with Dallas on 31 goals and RSL 30, but Dallas’ highest goal scorer is Jesus Ferreira on 6 goals. Has spreading out the goal scoring across multiple players been beneficial or a challenge for the team?
Finding a true go-to scorer has been kind of a big issue for this club over the last few years. Really since the days of Kenny Cooper or Blas Perez has this team truly had a guy that will give them 15-20 goals in a season. So we’re left with several guys carrying the load, which has some pluses and minuses as well to it. On the positive side, the wealth of talent scoring right now means that anyone is capable of finding the net on a particular night. But on the flip side, if two or three guys like Ferreira, Dominique Badji, Michael Barrios or Santiago Mosquera go cold at the same time, it means this team is in a lot of rough games offensively.
Much like RSL, Dallas is a significantly better team at home. How does the strategy for Dallas change at home vs. on the road?
You get a real sense in this league that everyone is just more comfortable at home than they are away. The elite teams like LAFC are able to win just about anywhere it seems but like you said, Dallas and RSL are similar in they do well at home and struggle away. I think last week was a good example though of how Gonzalez changes up his strategy when the team is away. They still do a good job of possessing the ball but they’re more willing to sit back and take in pressure. At home, they tend to take it to teams a bit more with the ball possession out the back and will work through the wings to get chances upfront.
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