The LA Galaxy open the 2017 season with a match on Saturday, March 4th versus the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and Supporter Shield winner, FC Dallas on Univision at 1 PM. Prior to the match, I sat down with FC Dallas play-by-play man Mark Followill to preview the upcoming season opener.
The takeaways from the preseason for me are that Oscar Pareja has an incredible amount of talent, depth, and versatility at his disposal this season. Pareja challenged the club to bring in the kind of talent, during the offseason, that could compete for starting XI positions and it’s clear they have done that.
They’ve checked off every box that needed to be for areas they were looking to upgrade – a #9, outside back, speed on the wings, a #10 until Mauro Diaz returns from his Achilles injury suffered last October. The addition of talent means competition for places in the team which Oscar absolutely loves, the ability to rotate the team with CONCACAF Champions League adding important matches to the early season schedule, and choices in the formation to use as well.
FC DALLAS ADDITIONS!
Forward Cristian Colman from Paraguay, who scored the first goal vs Arabe Unido in Leg 1 of the CCL quarterfinals. Winger Roland Lamah, formerly of Premier League club Swansea City and La Liga side Osasuna. Longtime MLS veteran midfielder Javier Morales. Venezuelan midfielder Carlos Cermeno and two potential starting outside backs in Anibal Chala from Ecuador on the left and Hernan Grana from Argentina on the right. The latter had a brief run with Columbus Crew in 2015. Key subtractions, Zach Loyd (expansion draft) and Mauro Rosales.
CAN FC DALLAS WIN THE CCL?
Can FC Dallas win CCL? Why not. FCD cleared the quarterfinals hurdle which tripped up all four MLS clubs last year. Obviously, the quality of competition was an issue for the MLS quarterfinalists in 2016 but also the challenge of being in the preseason while Liga MX sides are in mid-season form.
A preseason training trip to Argentina which featured several games helped FC Dallas to be ready for Arabe Unido. Once you have reached the semis of any tournament then you have a chance. The talent and depth is there and the semifinal with Pachuca should be a great watch for fans of both clubs and for those waiting for the hope of an MLS team capturing the long sought after CCL crown.
WHO TO WATCH?
Galaxy fans will need to be aware of Kellyn Acosta. An injury cut short his January camp with the USMNT but he recovered and his first leg performance vs Arabe Unido was incredible. An outstanding header set up Colman’s opener for FC Dallas and Acosta scored two wonderful golazos in the 2nd half. Early returns say the 21-year-old homegrown midfielder is ready to take a major step forward. Defender Walker Zimmerman fresh off his first USMNT cap is ready to improve on his huge leap in 2016. In addition, take notice of new faces – the finishing ability of Cristian Colman, the willingness to get forward by right back Hernan Grana and the skill and pace of Roland Lamah on the left wing.
WHO GETS THE START?
Pareja implemented a 4-4-2 vs Arabe Unido which changed to a 4-2-3-1 when Morales came on. For a season opener away I’ll guess the latter tactical setup to allow for more possession rather than a two-forward setup implying a more aggressive mindset on the road.
- GK – Chris Seitz
- LB – Maynor Figueroa
- CB – Matt Hedges and Walker Zimmerman
- RB – Hernan Grana
- D-Mid – Carlos Gruezo
- C-Mid – Kellyn Acosta
- CAM – Javier Morales
- LW – Roland Lamah
- RW – Michael Barrios
- FW – Cristian Colman
The view of the Galaxy from the outside? It’s a time of transition. Transition creates uncertainty and I am looking forward to seeing some of those questions start to be answered. Bigger but older names are out, younger legs are in which might be the best thing for them. Of course, the change from Bruce Arena to Curt Onalfo is a huge unknown. If I had to guess, I foresee the changes as ultimately producing positive results for LA Galaxy, although with my particular rooting interest, a slow start for a week would be fine with me.
I am in my 6th season as the television voice of FC Dallas on DFW television station KTXA and call games with Bob Sturm, Daniel Robertson, and Steve Jolley. In 2016, I called Copa America and USWNT for Fox and Olympic soccer for NBC.
We’d like to thank Mark Followill for taking the time to update us on FC Dallas.