Obviously the loss of Mauro Diaz hurts, just how do FC Dallas cope with his injury and how do they replace him?
You can't simply replace someone like Mauro Diaz but Oscar Pareja is definitely going to give it a pretty good try in these last few games of 2016. A lot will come down to who the club is playing that day as to whether or not they roll out a 5-3-2 like they did Thursday night in the Champions League, or if they go with a 4-4-2, or even if they go bold enough with the 4-2-3-1 that they've been using the majority of the season.
I think one way to cope would be to unleash Kellyn Acosta a little more in the midfield. The kid has shown before that he can carry some extra weight in the attack. Earlier in the season, FCD traveled to New England and won that one 4-2, largely in part to two assists from Acosta as he was pushed up into that attacking midfield role that Diaz typically occupies. Another option is to go with our other Mauro...Mauro Rosales that is. He's proven pretty useful these last few months either off the bench in late-game situations or from the start in a 60-75 minute role.
Walker Zimmerman and Matt Hedges have been arguably the best center back pairing in all of Major League Soccer this season, how important have the duo been?
It is a bit funny that at the beginning of the season we weren't really talking about Zimmerman that much. He left Dallas before preseason to try and find something in Europe and then came back before the start of the season with a new contract. But he still had to overcome being second in line behind veteran Zach Loyd. Once Loyd went down in the USOC fifth round match with a concussion, Zimmerman stepped in and the duo haven't been separated much in league play ever since. They have a pretty remarkable ability to control the middle of the field and limit what teams can do on set piece, and they can also score some set pieces of their own. I'd also throw in a load of credit to Carlos Gruezo in front of them as well. The Ecuadorian has been a huge pickup for this team this season and has been worth every penny that the club spent to get him.
Finally, with the Supporters' Shield on the horizon, what would it mean to lift a second trophy this season?
The USOC was a huge deal, let me be up front about that. You could really tell from the players, to the coaching staff, to pretty much everyone in the front office at the club that it was a weight lifted off their backs to win that title. Heck, it was like that for us that follow them and have been covering them. But the Supporters' Shield would be just as big, if not bigger. To be the best team for an entire season, or at least the majority of a regular season is a big deal to me. Not to mention if they get even just a draw they make history in the sense that they'll be the first team to go back-to-back seasons earning 60 points. That is pretty remarkable for a team that isn't a huge spender like some teams in the league.
This Sunday’s match kicks off at 1:00 PM PST on Sunday afternoon!