Frisco, Texas — Major League Soccer is suspended for a minimum of 30 days. The league halted before Matchweek 3 could begin.
What if the MLS Cup and all other competitions were decided instead by a 5-a-side soccer tournament — featuring five starters and three substitutes for every MLS franchise?
The rules are simple — you need one goalkeeper, one defender, two midfielders and a striker. Add in three substitutes, and the team is complete!
Garrett Melcer's 5-a-Side Squad
Goalkeeper — Jesse Gonzalez
As FCD’s regular first-choice keeper, Jesse Gonzalez gets the nod to start in goal for this 5-a-side team too. Not only does he possess impressive reflexes and a 6-foot-4 frame, Gonzalez has improved his ball skills and distribution over the last year under Luchi Gonzalez, which would serve him well in a smaller, fast-paced 5-a-side game.
Defender — Matt Hedges
No matter what kind of team we’re making, I want Matt Hedges to be a part of it. While the eight-season veteran is a typically a no-nonsense defender, he also possesses an impressive touch and dribbling ability for someone of his size—something that is apparent in FCD’s small-sides training games. That, combined with his natural defensive awareness, makes Hedges an ideal captain for this team.
Midfielder 1 — Brandon Servania
While he’s not the flashiest midfielder on Dallas’ roster, Brandon Servania can do it all. Blessed with a remarkable passing range and nonstop engine, Servania can pick a pass and cover the ground necessary to be lend a helping hand wherever he is on the pitch. As a sort of jack-of-all trades midfielder, the American international would transition well to 5-a-side.
Midfielder 2 — Paxton Pomykal
Every team needs a playmaker. And Paxton Pomykal fits the bill. Much like Servania, Pomykal never stops running and combines that energy with trickiness and creativity. While he’s able to contribute on the defensive side of things, Pomykal’s main duty in this team is to create scoring opportunities for his teammates, and himself.
Forward — Jesus Ferreira
FCD’s top scorer of last season is perfect for 5-a-side. Ferreira is able to play as an attacking midfielder, false No. 9 and center forward and is adept at both creating chances and taking them. He’s also the most natural finisher in Dallas’ team, for my money anyway. Ferreira will lead the line for this team and drift into midfield to help pull the strings alongside Pomykal.
Substitutes — Reto Ziegler, Thiago Santos and Kobra
A penalty and set-piece master who’s capable of playing left back and center back, Ziegler is a handy player to have on the bench for 5-a-side. While nominally a defensive midfielder, we’ve seen Santos be a difference maker on both sides of the ball in his first two FCD games. If we need to hold on to a lead late in the game, Santos is the first man off the bench to sure things up defensively. Need a late goal? Kobra is your man. While Ferreira’s versatility earns him the starting spot, Kobra’s goal-scoring instincts and passion off the bench is vital when the team is trailing.
Michael Ramirez's 5-a-side Squad
Goalkeeper — Jesse Gonzalez
In 5-a-side, you need a keeper who is great with his feet in order to distribute the ball, and FC Dallas' first-choice keeper is an ideal candidate for ANY MLS team. This one is easy for me — it has to be Jesse Gonzalez.
Defender — Ryan Hollingshead
It should be illegal to have Hollingshead as your "defender" in a squad, but he counts! The swiss army knife of FC Dallas played nearly every single position in the 2019 season, and even though perhaps Matt Hedges or Reto Ziegler are better at defending, you have to select Hollingshead, in my opinion. His vision, pace and distribution is crucial for this competition.
Midfielder 1 — Paxton Pomykal
Do you need an attacking-minded midfielder who can play box-to-box if needed? Paxton Pomykal is your answer. Gifted on and off the ball, Pomykal is a headache for opponents, whether he's cutting your defense apart or disrupting build up in the midfield. It's an easy choice for me.
Midfielder 2 — Fafá Picault
OK, this choice was a little difficult for me because the midfield is the deepest group on the FC Dallas roster. The other candidates I was considering were Michael Barrios, Thiago Santos and Santiago Mosquera. Barrios's distribution speaks for itself with the amount of assists he's racked up for the club over the years, Santos is an absolute force in the midfield, and Mosquera is so gifted on the ball that I feel like this type of competition would suit his abilities. But Picault has the defensive work rate, he's so quick and he can score goals. He's my pick.
Striker — Zdenek Ondrasek
So, I considered Jesus Ferreira and Ricardo Pepi for this position, but it's hard to argue against Kobra's form at the end of the 2019 season and his start to 2020. The guy simply scores goals, and he finds a way to score them, even when the chances look bleak. He's the ultimate competitor, and a 5-a-side competition could see him be a leading goal-scorer in all of MLS.
Substitutes — Jesús Ferreira, Thiago Santos and Matt Hedges
Ferreira won the FC Dallas Golden Boot last year for a reason. For that reason alone, you have to include him in your team. He's a natural, gifted goal-scorer and he can create chances for his teammates as well. I chose Santos as my midfielder substitute because he's so hard to get past, and we saw him drive forward many times in his first two games for FC Dallas. Hedges is probably FCD's best defender, so you need a player like that to come in and finish out a game to hold a result.
Now, it's your turn to build your own team! Have a lineup that you think can't be stopped? Tell who you picked on all of our social media channels, @FCDallas!