Monday Mailbag Barrios RSL
USA Today Sports Images

MONDAY MAILBAG: Managing Offensive Talent, Hedges and Zimmerman for USMNT Center Back Duo and Javier Morales in RSL.

FRISCO - Another busy week in the Mailbag after a 3-0 FC Dallas win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night. Let’s dive right in:

“With Acosta, Akindele and Urruti looking prolific in a 4-4-2 how does Pareja plan to integrate Mauro Diaz and Colman?” - Spencer

It’s quite the problem to have, Spencer. So many attacking threats and not enough room on the field unless you can dress five up top. 

Realistically, though, Oscar Pareja is showing us early on this season that he fully plans on using both formations and all of his players. We saw against Sporting KC and Portland that Dallas went back to a 4-2-3-1 to start the matches and Pareja said after the game he was looking to work his team in that shape to get them ready for when Mauro comes back, being able to use a more methodical style of attack with heavy passing through the midfield rather than the long-ball game in a 4-4-2. Late in games last season, Dallas would move to a two-striker look on occasion with Akindele and Urruti, but it’s been a more primary look to start this season without Diaz.

In regards to player personnel, it’s 100 percent a week-to-week battle in practice for those minutes. Pareja will play who is performing best, and everyone will have their opportunities.

I’m not going to even attempt to predict how exactly FC Dallas will look once Diaz, in particular, returns, but it’s been made clear that both will be used over the course of the season and even over the course of a single game. This team is built around a solid No. 10 and the fact that the 4-4-2 is working spectacularly is icing on the cake.

“Should Zimmerman and Hedges be the starting CB duo for the USA in the Gold Cup?” - Giovanni Salazar

If I’m Bruce Arena? Absolutely. But I’m not (shocking, I know).

In the shortened preparation times for international competitions, I think having two players who are at the top of their games who play together every single week is invaluable - especially at a position dependent on communication and instinctually knowing your partner’s movement and preferences.

Without a doubt, both should be called into the U.S. roster for Gold Cup, but I don’t see a full-on switch with both of them starting in the back line. Yet, at least. 

“Why didn't Javi get to play?” - Attalie

Attalie, I know this was a big disappointment on many fronts to not see Javier Morales make his return to Rio Tinto in what was sure to be a standing ovation moment, but the game is bigger than any one player. 

I myself was waiting in anticipation of the final sub and I know having seen Javi after the game, he was disappointed not being able to get back in front of the RSL faithful, but as a 37-year-old veteran he understands this is a team game. You can read more on Oscar’s decision to bring him on late in the match and what Morales had to say about it here, but bottom line is you had to close out the game and get the win. 

This is a Dallas side that was, at the time, holding a 2-0 lead in the 88th minute when Atiba Harris was brought on. Just getting over a minor issue of closing out games (i.e. two goals in stoppage time vs. Arabe Unido in CCL, last-second goal against Pachuca in CCL Semis, late equalizer against San Jose last month), this was the move that had to be made to secure three points.

In the 10 minutes leading up to the final substitution, RSL had four dangerous looks on goal and another three after Harris came on. Every point and every goal matter in this league, and Oscar made the decision he thought was best, regardless of the emotions of the moment.