Nashville SC play their first match in 157 days this Wednesday. The Boys in Gold take on FC Dallas in Frisco, Texas, to make up the first of three group matches in the MLS is Back Tournament. Both sides were withdrawn from the tournament following clusters of Covid-19 cases within their traveling parties.
To get a more in-depth look Nashville’s opponents, we turned to Buzz Carrick of 3rd Degree. Buzz founded 3rd Degree in 1997, covering soccer in North Texas for 22 years. Make sure to follow their excellent work at www.3rddegree.net.
Ben Wright: It’s obviously been a strange season for both Dallas and Nashville, with the MLS is Back Tournament not going according to plan for either side. How do you feel Dallas have handled the ups and downs of the break, and what kind of shape do you think they’re in to begin competitive play again?
Buzz Carrick: Obviously it’s been difficult mentally, Coach Gonzalez said it’s painful to watch the MLSisBack tournament. On the upside, the break allowed them to keep working tactics and get pretty much everyone healthy. And I think they are, as a team, a bit pissed. Not at themselves or anyone else, but at the missed opportunity. They truly felt they had a shot at the thing. Now they really want to be playing and I expect them to have a chip on their should with a “we’ve got something to prove” mentality.
BW: In their first two games, Nashville played with a strong backline mixed in with a bit of a high press at times. How do you think Dallas is set up to play against that type of team?
BC: FC Dallas uses a high press and a built from the back play style. Coach Gonzalez openly admires Pep and Klopp and looks to emulate that method. Against a defensive team that sits back, FCD will be happy to hold the ball for long stretches, draw the defense out, and look for gaps to exploit. A deep, patient low block can sometimes be trouble as the young attackers are still learning to break that kind of packed defense down. Also expect to see fluid, shifting tactics. Whatever shape FCD lines up in, and they use multiple shapes, will flex and shift in transition looking like multiple shapes.
BW: Dallas have a great record of producing and using young talent, up there with New York Red Bulls as maybe the best academy system in the league. Who are some young players that you’re excited to watch in this Nashville series, as well as the rest of the season?
BC: Sometimes it feels like the bulk of FC Dallas’ roster is exciting young players so it can be hard to pick just one. Paxton Pomykal looks to be the biggest game-changer when he’s healthy. So I’d probably say I’m hoping to see him get a full season healthy and in top form more than anything. I also really like Brandon Servania. He hasn’t won the linking-8 job outright from Bryan Acosta yet, but I think the kid’s got big upside.
Again, big thanks to Buzz for his perspective on FC Dallas. For great content on Nashville’s next two matches from a Dallas perspective, make sure to follow @3rdDegreeNet.