FRISCO - It’s position battles galore in the Mailbag this week after a third draw in the early going Saturday night against the Colorado Rapids. Let’s dive right in.
“Do you think that Papi will start Colman with Diaz now?” - Veronique
There is a mass reaction to Saturday’s equalizer that Cristian Colman should be starting in place of Maxi Urruti. I don’t think it’s wrong to want to see the duo of Colman and Mauro Diaz with more time together, but I think the quick reaction to dump Urruti for Colman is a little over the top, especially considering the at-large frustration that has long surrounded his play until this point. There also isn’t really a side-by-side case study from Saturday because Colman and Urruti were both still on the field, as were four other attacking players.
Pareja said after the match that he agrees Colman should’ve come into the match sooner and it’s a trend we’ve seen more and more to get the striker on the field earlier in matches. I do think that is what we’ll see more of in the future and we will see more minutes overlap between he and Diaz, but I don’t know that we’re at a point to do a straight swap. A conversation about Urruti’s role as a striker and the need for him to stay further up field defensively could be had, as MLSSoccer.com’s Matt Doyle alluded to this week, but, in my opinion, too much is being made about Colman’s playing time with Diaz and not about the perfectly-threaded, 60-yard needle that Diaz played to even make this a conversation. Urruti and Colman each have their own strengths, but let’s not flip the entire FCD script based on the last 20 minutes of a game with six attacking players on the field.
“In your opinion, who has played better: Gruezo or Hayes? How do you think the team is going to handle Acosta’s return?” - Nathan Hill
For as much as we talk about the battle for time on the wings and up top, I think this is the more intriguing question to watch in coming weeks. I think it’s pretty easy to say Jacori Hayes has been the more impactful player in a variety of roles this season. He’s been the deep holding mid, winning back balls in the middle of the field. He’s played an advanced role as a linking No. 6 more like Kellyn Acosta likes to play. And he’s done both with, I think, a little more effect than Carlos Gruezo.
There’s something to be said for the chemistry and relationship that Gruezo and Acosta have developed over two seasons and maybe some attribution to that for a lesser role in 2018. Regardless, it’s telling for Oscar Pareja to have subbed out Gruezo before Hayes on Saturday - especially when you think about Dallas pressing numbers forward and the Ecuadoran’s usual ability to single-handedly control the defensive midfield in those situations.
Granted in all of this hypothetical speak, it comes down to how quickly Acosta can return to his early 2017 form, but right now I’m ever so slightly leaning towards an Acosta-Hayes tandem deep in the middle.