FC Dallas spent the majority of 2011 searching for a lone striker to be productive up top. This offseason, they may have just come up with another solution to their offensive woes – use two forwards.
In an exhibition against Southern Methodist University on Wednesday night, the team featured a 4-4-2 with Panamanian Blas Perez and Colombian Fabian Castillo up top. Though the final score was only 4-0, the team created numerous opportunities with the first team and looked efficient and dangerous offensively.
“I thought the first half was one of our better performances as far as quick play and combination play and people just kind of understanding the structure and coming along with it,” said manager Schellas Hyndman following the game. “So I was glad to see the progress.”
After sending veteran midfielder Marvin Chavez to San Jose this offseason, Castillo has primarily played out wide opposite Brek Shea this preseason. Though still too early to tell, Wednesday’s match may be an indication that Hyndman likes his talents elsewhere.
“I think Fabian is a player that likes a little bit more freedom,” said Hyndman. “It seems like we always have a little bit of difficulty when we restrict him because he is so fast you just can't leave him alone.”
Castillo was anything but alone on Wednesday night, combining freely with Shea and Perez to create a number of scoring opportunities.
The first team scored two first-half goals, hit two posts, and missed a number of additional scoring opportunities before giving way to a mostly reserve squad for the second half. Perez, who found the back of the net in the 22nd minute on a Zach Loyd cross, missed on a couple of golden opportunities early on.
“I thought he was a little bit unlucky,” said Hyndman. “He missed one goal to the left and then came back with a header he missed again and ends up probably scoring the more difficult goal. But yeah I think he's that striker that we hoped he would be and with time and him getting sharper I think he'll really be that player.”
Midfielder Andrew Jacobson, who has fully recovered from offseason knee surgery, played alongside Daniel Hernandez in the central midfield. Jacobson led the team with five assists in 2011 but envisions a potent attach should the team opt to use two forwards.
“It’s nice to have a lot of good attacking options,” said Jacobson. “If we can get all of those guys on the field and make it work, it’s going to look really nice. I think everyone felt really good tonight.”
Only time will tell if Hyndman makes the transition to a 4-4-2, but only one exhibition remains this offseason to tinker with the lineup.
The team hosts the University of Tulsa on Saturday before heading to Orlando for the Disney Pro Soccer Classic next Friday. The health of 2010 MVP David Ferreira could go a long way in determining how the team ultimately looks on opening day.
“Whether we go with two of those guys up front together or whether we go into a 4-1-4-1 will be determined by when the season starts with injuries, where is David,” said Hyndman. “We didn't have [Ricardo] Villar today, which is a player that really settles things down for us, and I thought today we did really well without those two.”