Starting XI

Breaking down potential starting XI

Guest columnist Drew Epperley is the founder and editor of His blog covers everything MLS and U.S. Soccer. You can follow him on Twitter @WVHooligan.

All preseason long FC Dallas manager Schellas Hyndman has been experimenting with his lineup.

In some games the gaffer used a traditional 4-4-2 formation while in other contests the favored 4-1-4-1 was used.

With the new faces on the roster and returning players getting back to normal fitness, Hyndman has some decision to make going into the First Kick.

It all comes down to which players are healthy and ready to go as to what formation and lineup will be used.

Based on how the club looked in Orlando last week, conventional wisdom suggests Hyndman will stick to the usual 4-1-4-1 formation against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday.

Sit George John or Start Him?

One of the biggest questions going into the season opener with New York is whether or not George John will start at center back.

The Washington native returned to the club this week after spending the last two months on loan with English Championship side West Ham.

This gives Hyndman another strong player in the center of defense but it also raises the question, sit him or start him?

The majority of the preseason, new team captain Ugo Ihemelu has partnered with newcomer Hernan Pertuz. The two formed a solid partnership that helped guide Dallas to a third place finish in the Disney Pro Soccer Classic last week.

More than likely Hyndman will go with what has worked for two seasons – including a trip to MLS Cup in 2010 – and start John alongside Ihemelu in the middle.

Ferreira 50/50

David Ferreira continues to be one of the big talking points that centers around the club going into the new season.

The 2010 MLS MVP played strong in his first game back from injury against Swedish side BK Hacken - going the full 90 minutes for the first time since last spring.  But against USL-Pro side Orlando City - the Colombian picked up an Achilles injury – after only 45 minutes of play.

With a doubtful Ferreira, look for Hyndman to turn to Ricardo Villar to fill the central attacking midfielder role.

Villar should feel comfortable in that position as he played in started in that role 14 times in 2011.

Lone striker up top

With Hyndman using a 4-1-4-1, expect to see newcomer Blas Perez hold down the fort up top for Dallas on Sunday.

Perez started the majority of the preseason games up top – while scoring just one goal against Orlando City.

Perez showed early on in the preseason that he was the guy that fans have been waiting on in Dallas. He showed the ability to hold the ball well up front and draw defenders into mistakes – as well as he helped cause a penalty against the Houston Dynamo.

The usual suspects

The rest of the starting lineup should have a familiar look to it for fans.

Kevin Hartman will return once again to be between the pipes – the veteran keeper has racked up 22 shutouts in his two seasons in Dallas.

Zach Loyd and Jair Benitez will once again be asked to man the two fullback spots. Ahead of them on the flanks will be Brek Shea and Fabian Castillo. Both Shea and Castillo could also slide into a striker role should Hyndman want to mix things up and go with a 4-4-2 during the game.

The center midfield duo of Andrew Jacobson and Daniel Hernandez should be expected the sit above the defense. Both players are coming off injuries but each have looked strong so far this preseason.