FRISCO - It's a windy Monday in DFW and the team has a much-deserved day off before returning to practice tomorrow, so let's dive into the Mailbag and answer some questions from the week that was:
"During the Gold Cup, if Hedges, Zimmerman and/or Acosta get called up, who will step up to the center back role?" - FC Danny
Luckily for FCD, they have until the Gold Cup to worry about international call-ups affecting the roster. Dallas will likely see at least two of those three called in to the USMNT for World Cup Qualifiers following the New England game, as well as likely Carlos Gruezo (Ecuador) and Tesho Akindele (Canada friendly). Thankfully, FCD has an off weekend on March 25-26.
Come Gold Cup, however, all three Americans could be called in, and in that case, you're looking at Atiba Harris - a converted center back throughout the preseason - and either Homegrown Aaron Guillen or SuperDraft pick Walker Hume. You could also see Maynor Figueroa slide over to the center back role, but between the four, I think FCD can survive the Gold Cup window with a two-week break during the group stage games. You're looking at just one game - at Montreal on July 22 - without your Gold Cup players, if they advance to the knockout round.
"Arabe Unido disappointed (in a great way) as a No. 2 seed, but now we face one of the Mexican big boys. How do you think FCD stack up against Pachuca?" - Heath V.
First and foremost, the Arabe Unido side that Dallas faced was nothing like the one that qualified for CCL as 2015 Apertura Champions in Panama. When teams in smaller, Central American countries have success, the bigger clubs across North and South America swoop in and offer prices clubs can't refuse for some of the top players. This was the case with Arabe Unido, who were doing the best they could with a thinner lineup than they qualified with.
It was, however, a great result for FC Dallas. And they face a tall task against Pachuca starting next week. But if there is a team suited for the international style of play, it's FCD. The altitude will prove difficult in Leg Two, but Dallas is lucky in the fact that they play in Colorado just three days prior and will likely stay in the altitude to acclimate as best they can (Ben also asked about this topic). You never know what can happen against international opponents, but a big Leg One at home on Wednesday, March 15 is a must-win if the CCL journey is to continue to the Final.
"Should Papi rest the starters against KC, for the Pachuca game?" - Juan Garcia
For those who read last week's column, I said that I expected a more reserve-heavy lineup against Arabe Unido ahead of the season opener in LA, and I couldn't have been more wrong. Not only did Oscar Pareja start a almost-full blown XI, he doubled down bringing Cristian Colman and Atiba Harris in at half. Paxton Pomykal did make his professional debut and Roland Lamah and Figueroa were held out of the match, but by-and-large, it was no secondary lineup in Panama.
That being said, I think you have to rest some of the regulars this weekend, even if it is for 45 minutes or so like we saw last week. You're facing a Pachuca side that is vastly more dangerous than Arabe Unido next Wednesday at home in a must-win heading into Leg Two. You always want to start the MLS season with a win - especially against the Galaxy - but the second game of the season carries considerably less weight than the CCL Semifinals.
I'll probably be proven wrong yet again, but I'm sticking to my prediction here. It's gotta work one of these times, right?
Have a great week and we'll chat again next Monday!